Monday, March 21, 2011

In Which Dr Johnson Pisses Off Chicks

Dr Johnson was never known for being delicate.  He was known for eating like a pig and having the opinions of one as well.  Despite counting Hester Thrale as a close friend Johnson had some choice words about women.  It's no wonder the two bickered! 

"Publick practice of any art, and staring in men's faces, is very indelicate in a female." An exception to this rule were actresses who in Johnson's opinion had a long history of "indelicacy." Women should also not talk more than necessary and certainly not become preachers because "a woman preaching was like a dog walking on its hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all."

Of course when a woman called him out on his sexism, Johnson responded with little reason but with just as much dry humour.  Mrs Knowles commented to him about the double standard women face and Johnson responded with "It is plain, Madam, one or the other must have the superiority. As Shakespeare says, 'If two men ride on a horse, one must ride behind.'"

Thanks Doctor.


  1. His actions spoke very differently though, when you think of the many women writers he praised, supported and encouraged. It's like Sammy and the Scots, he said and wrote so many horrid things about them, but more than half of his amanuensis on the dictionary were Scots.

    We just got to take him with a pinch of salt.

  2. Very good point! Thank you for posting a "devil's advocate" response!