If a Man was a Woman

“Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if he were unrelentingly assessed in the terms of his maleness, if everything he wore, said or did had to be justified by reference to female approval; if he were compelled to regard himself, day in day out, not as a member of society, but merely (salva reverentiea) as a virile member of society. If the centre of his dress consciousness were the codpiece, his education directed to making him a spirited lover and meek paterfamilias; his interests held to be natural only as far as they were sexual. If from the school and lecture-room, press and pulpit he heard persistent outpourings of a shrill and scolding voice bidding him to remember his biological function. If he were vexed by continual advice on how to add a rough male touch to his typing, how to be learned without losing his masculine appeal, how to combine chemical research with seduction, how to play bridge without incurring suspicion of impotence.

His newspaper would assist him with a ‘Men’s Corner’, telling him how he could attract the girls and retain his wife’s affection. People would write books called ‘History of the Male’ or ‘Psychology of the Male’ or ‘Males of the Bible’ and he would be regaled daily with headlines, such as ‘Gentleman Doctor’s Discovery’ and ‘Men Artists at the Academy’. 

If he gave an interview to a reporter, he would find himself recorded in such terms as these: ‘Professor Bract, although a distinguished Botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has in fact, a wife and seven children; when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache’. “

-Dorothy L Sayers, from an article written as a radio talk but rejected by the British Broadcasting Corporation because “our listeners do not want to be admonished by a woman” … about 1924/26

Noted 15/2/1979

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