From a letter to an American woman, 31.7.62
I have a notion that, apart from actual pain, men and women are quite diversely afflicted by illness. To a woman one of the great evils about it is that she can’t do things. To a man (or anyway a man like me) the great consolation is the reflection “well, anyway, no-one can now demand that I should do anything.” I have often had the fancy that one stage in purgatory might be a great big kitchen in which things are always going wrong – milk boiling over, crockery getting smashed, toast burning, animals stealing. The women have to learn to sit still and mind their own business: the men have to learn to jump up and do something about it. When both sexes have mastered this exercise, they go on to the next.
A clarification written 03.09.62
[this] is simply my lifelong experience – that men are more likely to hand over to others what they ought to do themselves, and women more likely to do themselves what others wish they would leave alone. Hence both sexes must be told “mind your own business” but in two different senses.
I think that’s very incisive. By the way – how serious do you think he is about “purgatory”?