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The Second Sex

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Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir’s masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaki Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir’s masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir’s pioneering and impressive text remains as pertinent today as it was back then, and will continue to provoke and inspire generations of men and women to come.


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Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir’s masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaki Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir’s masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir’s pioneering and impressive text remains as pertinent today as it was back then, and will continue to provoke and inspire generations of men and women to come.

30 review for The Second Sex

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Le Deuxième Sexe = The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex is a 1949 book by the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, in which the author discusses the treatment of women throughout history. Beauvoir researched and wrote the book in about 14 months when she was 38 years old. She published it in two volumes, Facts and Myths and Lived Experience. Some chapters first appeared in Les Temps moderns. One of Beauvoir's best-known books, The Second Sex is often regarded as a major work of Le Deuxième Sexe = The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex is a 1949 book by the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, in which the author discusses the treatment of women throughout history. Beauvoir researched and wrote the book in about 14 months when she was 38 years old. She published it in two volumes, Facts and Myths and Lived Experience. Some chapters first appeared in Les Temps moderns. One of Beauvoir's best-known books, The Second Sex is often regarded as a major work of feminist philosophy and the starting point of second-wave feminism. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 2003میلادی عنوان: جنس دوم، تجربه عینی؛ نویسنده: سیمون دوبوار؛ مترجم: قاسم صنعوی؛ تهران، توس، چاپ پنجم 1382؛ در 728ص؛ شابک 9643155625؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی - سده 20م کتاب جنس دوم در دو جلد نگاشته شده؛ جلد نخست در سه قسمت با نامهای «سرنوشت»؛ «تاریخ»؛ و «اسطوره»؛ و جلد دوم در چهار قسمت با عنوانهای: «شکل‌گیری»؛ «موقعیت»؛ «توجیه‌ها»؛ و «به سوی رهایی» هستند؛ در این شک ندارم، که بانو «سیمون»، استعداد شگفت انگیزی دارند، بررسیها و یافته هایشان برایم جالب بود، جایی نخوانده بودم، ستم دیدگان را از یاد نبرده بودند، باور دارند، که بدبختی گاه میتواند امری طبیعی باشد، گاه از امتیازهای یکطرفه برای جنس دوم، چشم پوشیده، و برابری مرد و زن را باور کرده، و در نهایت کوشش نموده اند همگان را وادارند، تا بر سرنوشت خویش پیروز شوند تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 10/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    The fact that we are human beings is infinitely more important than all the peculiarities that distinguish human beings from one another; it is never the given that confers superiorities: ‘virtue’, as the ancients called it, is defined on the level of ‘that which depends on us’. My life has led me to develop a love for thought, a love heavily dependent on the context of reality and my personal view of such, a love that has been, is, and will continue to grow through heavy doses of words both The fact that we are human beings is infinitely more important than all the peculiarities that distinguish human beings from one another; it is never the given that confers superiorities: ‘virtue’, as the ancients called it, is defined on the level of ‘that which depends on us’. My life has led me to develop a love for thought, a love heavily dependent on the context of reality and my personal view of such, a love that has been, is, and will continue to grow through heavy doses of words both spoken and printed. I will admit to being biased towards the printed, as well as to being biased in many things as a result of characteristics both physical and mental; the fault of nature and nurture, neither one of which I can help very much. My method of coping with having a love for thinking, while being aware of the inherent inaccuracies of said thinking, is a rabid interest in argument, debate if you will, on many fronts that concern me. Being a woman concerns me. With that, let us begin. I am a white middle class female undergraduate who has spent all twenty-two years of her life in the United States. I did not read this book for a class. I do not in any way claim that this book speaks on all women’s issues, or deem women’s issues more important than those of any other oppressed group, whether via race, sexuality, financial security, et al. I simply don’t have the firsthand experience with other issues that, I believe, would accredit me to speak on them to such length. Account for the inherent biases as you see fit. Females are biologically different from males in the interest of propagation of the species, resulting in imposed monthly cycles that involve a whole host of painful and bloody side effects, as well as the inconvenient and sometimes dangerous states of pregnancy and giving birth. Females also have a more difficult time of building up muscle mass and other aspects lending to physical movement, due to the consequences of puberty and resulting chemical development. The bearing of maternity upon the individual life, regulated naturally in animals by the oestrus cycle and the seasons, is not definitely prescribed in woman - society alone is the arbiter. The bondage of woman to the species is more or less rigorous according to the number of births demanded by society and the degree of hygienic care provided for pregnancy and childbirth. Thus, while it is true that in the higher animals the individual existence is asserted more imperiously by the male than by the female, in the human species individual 'possibilities' depend upon the economic and social situation. We are now acquainted with the dramatic conflict that harrows the adolescent girl at puberty: she cannot become 'grown-up' without accepting her femininity; and she knows already that her sex condemns her to a mutilated and fixed existence, which she faces at this time under the form of an impure sickness and a vague sense of guilt. Her inferiority was sensed at first merely as a deprivation; but the lack of a penis has now become defilement and transgression. So she goes onward towards the future, wounded, shameful, culpable. In the United States, the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920, which declares that: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. This occurred 144 years after the US declared independence, 137 years after the US was recognized as independent, and 132 years after the Constitution itself was ratified. In masculine hands logic is often a form of violence, a sly kind of tyranny: the husband, if older and better educated than his wife, assumes on the basis of this superiority to give no weight at all to her opinions when he does not share them; he tirelessly proves to her that he is right. For her part, she becomes obstinate and refuses to see anything in her husband's arguments; he simply sticks to his own notions. And so a deep misunderstanding comes between them. He makes no effort to comprehend the feelings and reactions she is not clever enough to justify, though they are deeply rooted in her; she does not grasp what is vital behind the pedantic logic with which her husband overwhelms her. On June 20, 2013, many news organizations issued articles discussing a report released by the World Health Organization titled Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence. The results? One in three women has faced intimate partner violence or sexual violence. 40% of women killed worldwide were slain by the partner. And therein lies the wondrous hope that man has often put in woman: he hopes to fulfill himself as a being by carnally possessing a being, but at the same time confirming his sense of freedom through the docility of a free person. No man would consent to be a woman, but every man wants women to exist. Man has no need of the unconditional devotion he claims, nor of the idolatrous love that flatters his vanity; he accepts them only on condition that he need not satisfy the reciprocal demands these attitudes imply. He preaches to woman that she should give—and her gifts bore him to distraction; she is left in embarrassment with her useless offerings, her empty life. On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself—on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger. In the meantime, love represents in its most touching form the curse that lies heavily upon woman confined in the feminine universe, woman mutilated, insufficient unto herself. The innumerable martyrs to love bear witness against the injustice of a fate that offers a sterile hell as ultimate salvation. There is currently in the US a widespread political machination in many states aiming towards the eradication of legalized abortion, in essence granting living women less rights to their bodies than dead individuals who in life chose not to donate their bodies to science. ...modern woman is everywhere permitted to regard her body as capital for exploitation. The fact is that a true human privilege is based upon the anatomical privilege only in virtue of the total situation. That the child is the supreme aim of woman is a statement having precisely the value of an advertising slogan. ...the distortion begins when the religion of Maternity proclaims that all mothers are saintly. For while maternal devotion may be perfectly genuine, this, in fact, is rarely the case. Maternity is usually a strange mixture of narcissism, altruism, idle day-dreaming, sincerity, bad faith, devotion and cynicism. Also current in the US is the discussion of rape culture and slut shaming in light of the events of the Steubenville High School Rape Case, where media outlets offered biased coverage that sympathized with the rapists and rarely focused on the victim. As a matter of fact, the privileged position of man comes from the integration of his biologically aggressive role with his social function as leader or master; it is on account of this social function that the physiological differences take on all their significance. Because man is ruler in the world, he holds that the violence of his desires is a sign of his sovereignty; a man of great erotic capacity is said to be strong, potent - epithets that imply activity and transcendence. But, on the other hand, woman being only an object, she will be described as warm or frigid, which is to say that she will never manifest other than passive qualities. It is a mistake to seek in fantasies the key to concrete behaviour; for fantasies are created and cherished as fantasies. The little girl who dreams of violation with mingled horror and acquiescence does not really wish to be violated and if such a thing should happen it would be a hateful calamity. Masculine desire is as much an offence as it is a compliment; in so far as she feels herself responsible for her charm, or feels she is exerting it of her own accord, she is much pleased with her conquests, but to the extent that her face, her figure, her flesh are facts she must bear with, she wants to hide them from this independent stranger who lusts after them. Man encourages these allurements by demanding to be lured: afterwards he is annoyed and reproachful. But he feels only indifference and hostility for the artless, guileless young girl...she is obliged to offer man the myth of her submission, because he insists on domination, and her compliance would only be perverted from the start. In the US, prostitution, the ‘business or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment’, is illegal. The Cinderella myth flourishes especially in prosperous countries like America. How should the men there spend their surplus money if not upon a woman? Orson Welles, among others, has embodied in 'Citizen Kane' that imperial and false generosity: it is to glorify his own power that Kane chooses to shower his gifts upon an obscure singer and to impose her upon the public as a great queen of song. When the hero of another film, 'The Razor's Edge', returns from India equipped with absolute wisdom, the only thing he finds to do with it is to redeem a prostitute. One remarkable fact among others is that the married woman had her place in society but enjoyed no rights therein; whereas the unmarried female, honest woman or prostitute, had all the legal capacities of a man, but up to this century was more or less excluded from social life. Sewers are necessary to guarantee the wholesomeness of palaces, according to the Fathers of the Church. And it has often been remarked that the necessity exists of sacrificing one part of the female sex in order to save the other and prevent worse troubles. One of the arguments in support of slavery, advanced by the American supporters of the institution, was that the Southern whites, being all freed from servile duties, could maintain the most democratic and refined relations among themselves; in the same way, a caste of 'shameless women' allows the 'honest woman' to be treated with the most chivalrous respect. The prostitute is a scapegoat; man vents his turpitude upon her, and he rejects her. Whether she is put legally under police supervision or works illegally in secret, she is in any case treated as a pariah. The Equal Pay Act was signed into law in the US in 1963. The male-female income difference in the US was in 2010 at a female-to-male earnings ratio of 0.81, medium income in full-time year-round workers being $42,800 for men compared to $34,700 for women. When he is in a co-operative and benevolent relation with woman, his theme is the principle of abstract equality, and he does not base his attitude upon such inequality as may exist. But when he is in conflict with her, the situation is reversed: his theme will be the existing inequality, and he will even take it as justification for denying abstract equality. Woman is shut up in a kitchen or in a boudoir, and astonishment is expressed that her horizon is limited. Her wings are clipped, and it is found deplorable that she cannot fly. Let but the future be opened to her, and she will no longer be compelled to linger in the present. The history of literature is dominated by male writers. Since 1901 when the first annual Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded, out of the 109 individuals that have received it, twelve were female. More women have been awarded the Nobel in this field than any other, save for the Nobel Peace Prize, of which fifteen of the 101 recipients were female. When he describes woman, each writer discloses his general ethics and the special idea he has of himself; and in her he often betrays also the gap between his world view and his egotistical dreams. …the categories in which men think of the world are established from their point of view, as absolute: they misconceive reciprocity, here as everywhere. A mystery for man, woman is considered to be mysterious in essence. And while her lover fondly believes he is pursuing the Ideal, he is actually the plaything of nature, who employs all this mystification for the ends of reproduction. 'Pendants have for two thousand years reiterated the notion that women have a more lively spirit, men more solidity; that women have more delicacy in their ideas and men greater power of attention. A Paris idler who once took a walk in the Versailles Gardens concluded that, judging from all he saw, the trees grow ready trimmed.' –Stendhal Feminism is, well. You tell me. I have to say, though, bra-burning and unshaven legs seem empty condemnations in comparison to rape and domestic abuse. The truth is that just as—biologically—males and females are never victims of one another but both victims of the species, so man and wife together undergo the oppression of an institution they did not create. If it is asserted that men oppress women, the husband is indignant; he feels that he is the one who is oppressed—and he is; but the fact is that it is the masculine code, it is the society developed by the males and in their interest, that has established woman’s situation in a form that is at present a source of torment for both sexes. It is perfectly natural for the future woman to feel indignant at the limitations posed upon her by her sex. The real question is not why she should reject them: the problem is rather to understand why she accepts them. I thought about keeping a list of how many authors/philosophers/lauded historical people I’d have to completely boycott due to misogyny. That action makes as much sense as completely boycotting those who favor feminism. Think about it. Alternative Title: Woman Fucks/Fucking Terrifies Man - A Treatise

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dolors

    Reading De Beauvoir’s seminal “feminist manifesto” has allowed me to compose my genealogical tree, for The Second Sex is a book about my mother and the mother of my mother and the mother of my grandmother and of all my female ancestors in endless regressive progression who rebelled before obeying and who ended up capitulating like slaves shackled to the indomitable future of preordained inferiority. “Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not re Reading De Beauvoir’s seminal “feminist manifesto” has allowed me to compose my genealogical tree, for The Second Sex is a book about my mother and the mother of my mother and the mother of my grandmother and of all my female ancestors in endless regressive progression who rebelled before obeying and who ended up capitulating like slaves shackled to the indomitable future of preordained inferiority. “Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being.” (16) Reading De Beauvoir’s concentric lines of argument framed within the existentialist discourse about the inward and outward implications of being a woman in a world devised by the masculine mind has glued the fragmented selves of my dispersed persona back together. My inner cracks have been filled with irrefutable evidence amalgamated from diverging fields of study infused with patriarchal metanarration such as the scientific, in its medical, biological and psychoanalytical aspects; and the humanistic, taking philosophy, mythology, literature and historical materialism as pinpointing references. “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” (295) What I inferred to be particular quirks and shortcomings of my own character like the incessant urge to please, the lack of firmness when I voice out my opinions, the sense of displacement in my professional life, the unavowed guilt of my indecision on motherhood and many other details turn out to be the partial result of centuries of alienation from a position of imbued dependence and subservient otherness in relation to man, whose gender inherently assigns the role of “the essential” and “the independent” to him. The female, on the other hand, achieves fulfilment finding her reason to be in the free conscience of the masculine figure. Man is the mirror where women seek their reflection. Reading De Beauvoir’s subversive account on the status of women in the context of the modernized Western societies has revealed the double trap of the socio-political organizations in developed countries where women have reached equality, economic autonomy and a more relevant presence in the public institutions only in appearance but not in ethos. Women’s voices must be not only generalized and active but also questioning and disruptive in order to reinvent the endemic hierarchy of a society culturally and traditionally built on the oppression of half of its population. Are my ambitions, dreams and yearnings my own? Or are they the result of subliminally indoctrination passed through generations of tamed female mentality? Reading De Beauvoir has put me on the ropes, reminding me of my privileged situation compared to the atrocious and reiterative abuse inflicted upon women, victims of dogmatic fundamentalism or totalitarian governments in most countries of the world: cases of ablation, rape, physical and psychological maltreatment saturate the media, tragic facts that back up De Beauvoir’s theory that femininity is neither essence nor destiny but an artificial construction of the cultural, societal and historical requirements of time and place. Reading De Beauvoir has sharpened my feminism, rekindled my empathy and opened my eyes to the impending call to redefine the socio-political, economic and cultural frames of a so-called democracy, which is only de jure and not de facto, and to avoid the postmodernist doctrine of the difference feminism that allots innate and intrinsic qualities to the feminine gender, to establish a collective front that will guarantee new models of egalitarian coexistence for women, inside and outside the public and private spheres. A collective outcry arises from the underground that joins many others, a dull murmur gathering momentum from those living on the fringes of society: women, immigrants, those of another race, the others, the marginalized, whose voices have been chocked by gratuitous despotism for centuries, start intonating a demand in unison. Don’t you hear it? It’s the canon of collective indignation roaring to achieve individual emancipation. “Resignedness is only abdication and flight, there is no other way out for woman than to work for her liberation.” (639)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elenabot

    To seem, rather than to see, to appear, rather than to be: this, in a nutshell, has been woman's existential project thus far, according to de Beauvoir. Woman's historic destiny has prohibited her from developing into a self, understood as an autonomous ontic unit and agent. Instead, hers has been a merely instrumental existence defined entirely by her social roles. Never a maker of meaning, her success in life was defined to the extent that she was a suitable canvas for receiving others' meanin To seem, rather than to see, to appear, rather than to be: this, in a nutshell, has been woman's existential project thus far, according to de Beauvoir. Woman's historic destiny has prohibited her from developing into a self, understood as an autonomous ontic unit and agent. Instead, hers has been a merely instrumental existence defined entirely by her social roles. Never a maker of meaning, her success in life was defined to the extent that she was a suitable canvas for receiving others' meanings. This philosophical document is first of all, whatever else it might be, a sustained exploration of what it means to know, to be, to make, and ultimately to become a self. De Beauvoir starts from the perplexing situation in which she encounters her selfhood as somehow incomplete, and deeply problematic to herself. From this starting point, she can ask the million-dollar question of philosophy anew (and for our benefit): and namely, What does it really take to know a self, our self? The first thing one should note about this book is that it was not originally intended as a political treatise; it wasn't made with the intention of shouting shrill slogans over a megaphone. Its aim is philosophical understanding of the human condition, not political expediency. As such, it eschews neat and tidy ideological divisions in its essence, and prefers to obliquely cast a searching light on the rich ambiguity of this queer dual nature we experience as sexual beings, and the implications this has for our sense of identity and our experience of meaning. De Beauvoir's work finds insight not in ideological formulations, but in the poignant and possibly unanswerable questions brought up by the tensions and dualities that seem intrinsic to the human condition, and that, perhaps, the ideologue in his/her search for the perfectly defined political dogma will always and of necessity gloss over. Her highest strength as a thinker attempting to venture in this gender minefield is that she guides herself therein less by a pursuit of ideological neatness, and more by an effort to attain a philosophical consciousness that can comprehend a perhaps intractable ambiguity. The impulse to “Know thyself” is shown here to cut across all artificial barriers of specialization: de Beauvoir comes to herself through biological and historical research (hormones and hearth, glands and cosmetics), literary and mythological critique, with all of this capped by philosophical reflection. She shows how, in the effort to know our condition, philosophy can contain, inform and direct all partial disciplinary inquiries and perspectives (a modern and biographical take on the more traditional ideal of philosophy as a “queen of the sciences”). When most people think of self-knowledge, they tend to conceive this process in purely subjectivist terms, in short, in terms of looking into material accessible only to the individual consciousness. Somewhere in the swarmy mess of impulses, affects, personal memories, belief commitments and gut feelings, you are told, you shall find Your Self. In contrast, I suspect she would sympathize with Mann's insight in The Magic Mountain: “A man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of his epoch and his contemporaries.” As such, the work goes far beyond our culture's subjectivist approach to self-knowledge, in order to illuminate us to ourselves in our guise as participants in the unfolding of larger historical patterns. Our lives are shaped by the accreted sediment of decisions made by past generations; within the domain circumscribed by those decisions, we exist. And some of the most fundamental decisions we make and inherit are decisions regarding meaning, or about how to shape our human experience. The semantic tools available for the shaping of self are our most critical inheritance from the past. Self-knowledge thus implies far more than insight into personal experience; it necessitates developing a historical consciousness of the inherited patterns of meaning-making that we have available for shaping our individual consciousness of self as it emerges at this given moment in time. So, to understand the female self as it has been historically constrained to develop, she targets her philosophical analysis to the representational tools - and their limits - that she has had available for her self-construction. The problem of incompletely formulated selfhood that she starts from, de Beauvoir takes great pains to suggest, is not merely a piece of her idiosyncratic subjective biographical trajectory, but is, in a sense, our problem as well, to the extent that we are inheritors of a cultural heritage that does not afford us with the semantic tools that we need in order to lay claim to our experience through its shaping. It is in this effort of shaping that autonomy is slowly consolidated and that we become a genuine acting unity, or a full-fledged individual. A guiding thematic thread in her work is the exploration of how various cultural myths restrict woman to the contrary of autonomy, which she calls a state of “immanence.” This state of immanence is, for her, a stultifying state for a human existent to occupy, whose inward striving relentlessly impels her to a “transcendence” through autonomy. The inherited semantic tools, far from helping woman shape her experience so as to converge on an autonomous perspective, instead restrict her to an "immanent" identity wholly defined by her contingent web of relations. She must ever define herself as daughter, as mother, as wife, as friend, as helper, as nurturer, as muse, as treacherous slut. The one position that is off-limits is her own, that is, her knowing of herself as irreducible existent and autonomous center of meaning. Her knowing of the one thing that no one can give to her, nor take away from her, is unavailable to her as so long as she operates through the inherited, self-alienating semantic paradigm. This centrifugal, purely contingent existence, de Beauvoir persuasively argues, is a humanly incomplete mode of being. As long as we only know to look outside ourselves for our psychological substance, we are lost to ourselves. We never fully come to be, as a self. The trouble is that, for a woman coming to consciousness, the collective heritage she finds is invariably an inheritance of scars, caricatures, and symbolic deformations. A young woman, growing to consciousness of self, must find herself in relation to an inheritance of meanings predominantly shaped by her male Other, for whom she can only figure as an object that exists solely in relation to his aspirations and needs. Her fulfilment as an existent – as well as her fitness in the world - are both defined in instrumental terms, in relation to her capacity to fulfil his need for meaning. The pressing existential issue becomes, for her, to mould herself so as to become meaningful to him, whatever meaning he might need for her to embody. It is a queer sort of destiny, to exist only insofar as one is an object for the perception and appreciation of another. De Beauvoir lingers on this strange self-alienation, say, in a woman's use of self-ornamentation, in which she reflexively comes to see herself from the outside in. The reductive mirror image becomes internalized, creating a profound sense of dissociation from herself. “The lived body,” as Merleau-Ponty calls it, becomes merely an object to contour just-so, for another's gaze. She can seldom ever just be; she must ever seem, through some kind of relentless necessity, even as in so doing she merely starves herself of her true sustenance. Such can only be provided by a richer relationship with her world, established intrinsically, through the taproot of her autonomy. “The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages,” Woolf aptly put it, and de Beauvoir concurs: others' gazes determine to a very profound extent the shape of our destinies as women. There are so many painfully surgical descriptions here of the growing woman's developmental history as she finds herself sliced up, bit by bit, by others' glances, and hedged into what becomes “her place”: “The young girl feels that her body is getting away from her. (...) On the street men follow her with their eyes and comment on her anatomy. She would like to be invisible; it frightens her to become flesh and to show flesh.” Thus, a growing woman learns that she, as an embodied being, is not just a locus for meaning-making, but, even more urgently for her survival and flourishing in the world, is an object-for-others. She must continually extrude herself from Herself, and shape herself as an object of perception and evaluation for the Other. The goal of life is for her not learning to see, but managing how others see her; it is not coming to realization, but being instrumental to others'. As she matures, woman is progressively constrained to inhabit her subject-stance only partially, to the extent that meanings gleaned from the Other's, often alienating perspective afford her indirect access to her self. She must ever seek herself through his eyes. As such, she is doomed to encounter herself only as image. In phenomenological parlance, her stance is self-objectifying, never fully subjective. De Beauvoir's extensive analysis here of how background mythical constructs of Nature regulate the alternative ways women are perceived is brilliant. Through the identification of woman as an instrument of nature, she acquires the characteristics – positive or negative – ascribed to Nature itself. This makes some psychological sense. Aside from our own bodies, nature comes closest to our minds in our confrontation with the other sex. The other sex is nature to us, nature come terrifyingly/ecstatically close... and yet, nature that remains ungraspably other and alien to our consciousness. The problem here, is of course, that it is only the male that is the center of perspective; the female is the “absolute other,” and is thus -identified- with pure (inhuman) nature. She is either the nurturant mother “nature,” the all-encompassing nurturant principle of sympathy, or else, nature as the beast that ensnares merely to devour. She thus finds herself in a rather impossible position, internalizing a tradition of self-alienating representations made of her, which supposedly exhaust her nature, while nonetheless being radically alien to this tradition in the innermost truth of her experience, for which she has inherited few clear words that she can make entirely her own, few artistically embodied meanings, and almost no usable philosophical formulations. What self can she scrounge up out of such scattered fragments? This dissociation from lived experience and personal meaning-making is a big price to pay for social survival. And if Mary Pipher is correct in Reviving Ophelia, this same fate of premature developmental arrest due to internalizing a self-alienating perspective still awaits young girls today. The choice is grim: a girl must choose between love and belonging, on the one hand, and full self-development, on the other. The situation's rigged such that she often cannot have both. As Pipher ruefully notes, when questioned, people define “feminine development” and full “adult development” in antithetical terms. Thus, to be a properly “feminine” woman, as per our cultural norms, is to be a psychologically disabled adult, incapable of agency or of self-directed logical judgment. In short, she must choose between the demands of her relational self and those of her autonomous self, between alienation and amputation. The tension created by attempting to inhabit a subject stance only through self-alienating representational tools is only part of the conflict de Beauvoir finds in a woman's coming-to-consciousness. A further tension is added by the very duality of human, sexual nature, which introduces an additional, and deeply ambiguous constraint through the relational mutuality of the sexes. De Beauvoir finds, “with a kind of surprise” - and it seems to me also (understandable) dismay - that she is first and foremost a woman. Yet am I first a woman when I close my eyes and think? Is our sexuality really the primal reality of our conscious experience? When I sit down and reflect, and there's nobody in the room, I seem to myself to be just a good ole thinking... thing... A light flickering in the darkness. I seem to myself indivisible, the center of my phenomenal experience, a sort of singularity. Wittgenstein seems to have got it better than de Beauvoir: “The philosophical I is not the man, not the human body or the human soul of which psychology treats, but the metaphysical subject, the limit - not a part of the world.” I become a aware of my sexuality only when confronted by another, and shoved back into being just a partial being, one item of the duality of human nature – a woman. Does Simone de Beauvoir really mean to say that walking in the forest, alone, with only the trees for her companions, she really feels the word “woman” has any meaning when applied to her conscious experience? Well, no, as she describes those rare moments in nature when one fully inhabits oneself as a center of meaning-making consciousness, uncircumscribed by any Other's gaze. From her text I glean that sexuality is a kind of polarization we undergo when mingled with others; it is the form of our being-in-relation. We get pushed into one pole to complement the encountered other and to balance out the interaction. There is the same sort of difference here as between the dark expansiveness that Woolf's Mrs Ramsay (“To the Lighthouse”) encounters in herself when she rests contained in her unreachable solitude, on the one hand, and her gushy all-nurturing effusiveness when circumscribed within her role as mother/wife/society pillar, on the other. This implies a strange double meaning for her foundational self-recognition as a woman: she is, simultaneously, one part of the sexually dual form human nature manifests, and an autonomous, irreducible unity in her own right. She is fundamentally free, yet also fundamentally a self emerging and constructing itself in relation to an other. This brings me to the central difficulty I have with her argument. The former is in keeping with her Existentialist commitments: absolutely autonomous, free choice is the stuff of human life.The latter suggests a teleological ordering of the sexes into a structure of essential relatedness and interdependence. The former divides the world into sovereign individuals, each initiating contractual relations through the sheer force of personal choice unmotivated by any natural impulse to relate; the latter makes of us community animals, as both sexes are partial beings, each requiring union with the other for its completion. The whole drama of this conflict comes out in sharp relief in her description of the queer metamorphosis of selfhood that is motherhood. "Pregnancy is above all a drama that is acted out within the woman herself. She feels it as at once an enrichment and an injury; the fetus is part of her body, and it is a parasite that feeds on it; she possesses it, and she is possessed by it; it represents the future and, carrying it she feels herself vast as the world; but this very opulence annihilates her, she feels that she herself is no longer anything. (...) Ensnared by nature, the pregnant woman is plant and animal, a stock-pile of colloids, an incubator, an egg; she scares children proud of their young, straight bodies and makes young people titter contemptuously because she is a human being, a conscious and free individual, who has become life's passive instrument." Motherhood is just such a time when one's usual notion of autonomous, individual selfhood is terrifyingly overthrown. At such a time, a woman becomes swamped by immanence, she feels herself to be a mere "passive instrument" of life. She is completely absorbed into the relational function of her subjectivity. Here, in motherhood, de Beauvoir comes in headlong collision with the critical problematic of female identity, and its seemingly intractable struggle to preserve a sense of independent self that survives the pressures of impinging relationships, for motherhood is the ultimate of all impingements. Your sense of self before and after cannot remain the same. The birth of my two children, at least, was experienced as a crisis moment in which I myself was tasked to a rebirth, a movement from independent to interdependent selfhood. How DO you reconcile these two? Well, she doesn't. It seems to me that she gives perfect expression to the whole problem of our dual nature (both uncompromisingly autonomous and intrinsically relational), without truly recognizing it as a problem, never mind venturing a solution. Learning to simultaneously honour the self in its autonomy and in its full capacity for self-giving relationship, or to reconcile, in short, the seemingly conflicting demands of self-actualization and relational self-transcendence, would bring greater harmony to a society deeply divided between these two currently conflicting trajectories. A lot of the meaning of "woman" and "man," she says, was written over and distorted by a great deal of symbolic mechanisms gone wrong and taking on a life of their own, thereby blocking the spontaneous expression of our true sexual nature. "When we abolish the slavery of half of humanity, together with the whole system of hypocrisy it implies, then the "division" of humanity will reveal its genuine significance and the human couple will find its true form." Just so, the full realization of one element of the duality empowers the other to find his true form, in a relation that now manifests its true form for the first time. What if we have never really spoken truly about ourselves, about our experience, and about the true nature of our relations? This thought haunts much of her work, and I respect that. Thus, she very profoundly partakes of the modern project to re-define the fundamentals of the human condition, or, at least, to re-explore, once more, what seemed to be a foreclosed issue. Her philosophical work is a clearing ground for accreted symbolic clutter that lives on only by a kind of inertia and distorts all that is seen and felt, thereby blocking out deeper reserves of meaning. It is for us to ponder the means to a larger perspective that can contain the intractable ambiguities that she has so faithfully recorded for us here. Her work provides a map that lays out what it takes to genuinely know – and fully become - our own selves. Her unique historico-philosophical approach to self-knowledge encourages us to know our lives by placing our most intimate personal experience in the context of the broadest perspective attainable at our historic moment. Like all great thinkers who had anything of value to teach about self-knowledge, de Beauvoir holds before us the image of a great tree. In order to understand our particular twig, we must recover a map of the larger tree that holds us in place. The meanings that shape us and limit us can be seen truly only in this perspective of historical depth. This map is the surest ground on which we can lay out our personal stories.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Foundational and packed with insight, so much so that much of the work's worth checking out, even if parts now read as dated. In dense, dizzying prose the first volume critiques psychoanalysis and Marxism, overviews the history of women in Western civ, and unpacks the assumptions behind sexist cultural myths; the second walks through the major stages of human life and considers how they differ for men and women, implicitly focusing on the experiences of middle-class white Europeans. The first is Foundational and packed with insight, so much so that much of the work's worth checking out, even if parts now read as dated. In dense, dizzying prose the first volume critiques psychoanalysis and Marxism, overviews the history of women in Western civ, and unpacks the assumptions behind sexist cultural myths; the second walks through the major stages of human life and considers how they differ for men and women, implicitly focusing on the experiences of middle-class white Europeans. The first is more specific and engaging than the second, which's prone to long stretches of abstraction about the condition of bourgeois housewives that are easy to skim today, though Volume II's observations on birth control, sex work, and what Adrienne Rich would later rebrand as compulsory heterosexuality are sharp and still spot on. As with other paradigm-shifting thinkers of the 20th century, de Beauvoir's thought's been absorbed into the mainstream, but there are shades of nuance drawn here that are often lost in summaries of her work.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jojo Richardson

    The part of this book that has affected me the most in the ten years since I've read it is most certainly the introduction, where de Beauvoir says that in order to define herself to herself she must start with, "I am a woman". This surprised her then as it surprises me now when I realize that that is how I must start, too. Although I grew up in a post-feminist "you can have it all" type of environment, it was eye-opening and disconcerting to learn that women are considered "the other" as opposed The part of this book that has affected me the most in the ten years since I've read it is most certainly the introduction, where de Beauvoir says that in order to define herself to herself she must start with, "I am a woman". This surprised her then as it surprises me now when I realize that that is how I must start, too. Although I grew up in a post-feminist "you can have it all" type of environment, it was eye-opening and disconcerting to learn that women are considered "the other" as opposed to the default, regardless of how I choose to see myself. The book is divided into philosophical, literary, and biological reflections of the feminine. While the biology hasn't necessarily stood the scientific test of time (an inevitable danger when you combine science and philosophy), de Beauvoir still brings up interesting points. Similarly, although I hadn't read- nor have I bothered to read since- many of the authors that she delves into in the literary section, the book has had the effect of making a sort of gender studies media critic out of me, always asking how and why women are represented in the larger culture. For me, the most solid part of the book was the philosophy section (which one might expect from a philosopher). The ideas that de Beauvoir has put forth about what it means to be a woman, not in a trite "Mars and Venus" kind of way, but at a fundamental level and seen through the lens of society, have encouraged me to look at the world and my place in it in a more thoughtful and rigorous manner.

  7. 4 out of 5

    El

    As a feminist, it's been recommended to me for years that I read Simone de Beauvoir's 1949 book, The Second Sex. As a regular person, though, I have always felt like it "wasn't the right time" to read it. What does that even mean? As someone living as "the second sex" myself, there is no excuse for this. I was lazy, bottom line. It's a big book, and while big books do not normally frighten me, I was worried I wouldn't be smart enough for Simone de Beauvoir. She was, from what I understand, a highl As a feminist, it's been recommended to me for years that I read Simone de Beauvoir's 1949 book, The Second Sex. As a regular person, though, I have always felt like it "wasn't the right time" to read it. What does that even mean? As someone living as "the second sex" myself, there is no excuse for this. I was lazy, bottom line. It's a big book, and while big books do not normally frighten me, I was worried I wouldn't be smart enough for Simone de Beauvoir. She was, from what I understand, a highly intelligent and talented existentialist writer, and here I am practically picking my nose while I decide what kind of cereal I want to eat for dinner tonight. I mean, I'm not the dimmest light in the pack, but I'm also not the brightest. I'm just regular. But as I am pushing 40, it's been on my mind that I should really read this book. There's probably never the right time, maybe the time is right now. We read this as a group here on GR, and I'm afraid to say I sort of disappeared during any discussion of it because life got in my way, but I persevered anyway because I was finally ready to commit to Simone. And what a commitment it was. I read Betty Friedan's classic The Feminine Mystique a few years back and what was surprising to me about that book was that it read so easily and smoothly. I think for that reason alone Friedan may have reached more of her audience than Beauvoir did, though this does not automatically mean we should be ignoring Beauvoir. Quite the opposite, really. The book is large, yes. And it is dense, yes. Beauvoir insists her readers give a bit of themselves in order to read this book, I think. She covers a lot of ground in this book, more than Friedan, though the comparison is unfair since they achieved different things with their writing and came at it from slightly different angles. Beauvoir's approach covers biology, philosophy, religion, history, you name it. There's very few stones that Beauvoir did not turn in the process of writing this book. She begins with the science of gender and sexuality, and then she walks the reader through the entirety of a woman's life, from her young days to maturity to old age. Beauvoir was 41 when this book was published. Just how long did it take her to write this? Because I'm 38 and she was probably writing this at that age (based on the size and the amount of research she did), and this makes me feel like a colossal failure. The information here may seem dated to a reader today. There's also so much information that it's easy to glaze over at times. Beauvoir was a French writer, and her lack of love for the Americans is evident in several places in sometimes subtle (other times not so subtle) ways. It's amusing to look back at it now, but the point is she wasn't even wrong. She may have written things in a condescending manner, but she still hit the nail on the head. Much of her information is still relevant today. There was a section I especially recall in which she talks about abortion, a topic discussed openly way less often back in 1949, and she writes about it in a very matter-of-fact manner. The part that I especially love is that she pointed out how so many people want to prevent abortions, and they encourage many to keep their child. And then, once the woman carries the baby for the greater part of a year, and gives birth to this thing, those same people who encouraged her to keep the baby are suddenly nowhere to be found to help ensure that she and the baby receive all the financial and other support that they need. This is a still a topic of debate today, how conservatives want to tell women what to do with their bodies with lots of promises to "help", and then when the time comes they shrug and say "Not my problem." I'm totally paraphrasing here. Beauvoir was much too classy to write "Not my problem." I do recommend this book to, well, anyone who can manage to get through it. It's not the easiest book to read because it just seems too boring. Well, I'm sorry that a woman's life is boring to you. Beauvoir's point was (and should still be) that women are here, we are the other part of the population, and we have a history and a voice of our own.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Knocked Up Preggers Up the Spout A Bun in the Oven * * * The word “pregnant” is pregnant with connotation. And for women—often viewed in more bodily terms than men—nothing foregrounds a woman's body more than pregnancy. It’s interesting to consider what Simone de Beauvoir, dubbed the "mother" of modern feminism, thought about motherhood itself. Given what she writes in The Second Sex, Beauvoir would probably concur with my friend’s attitude… ...A number of years ago, a friend of mine spoke to Knocked Up Preggers Up the Spout A Bun in the Oven * * * The word “pregnant” is pregnant with connotation. And for women—often viewed in more bodily terms than men—nothing foregrounds a woman's body more than pregnancy. It’s interesting to consider what Simone de Beauvoir, dubbed the "mother" of modern feminism, thought about motherhood itself. Given what she writes in The Second Sex, Beauvoir would probably concur with my friend’s attitude… ...A number of years ago, a friend of mine spoke to me of her desire to have a baby. She felt—being in her early thirties—she should get on with it but would not consider being pregnant while she was still in graduate school. When I asked her why, she responded that pregnancy made you into such a “body,” and in the environment of graduate school, she would feel like “a body among minds.” Her fear encapsulates a number of assumptions: A mother is a body. A body does not think. Intellectuals—graduate students, faculty, writers—think. Mothers do not think. A woman—as a graduate student or a professor—writes, talks, produces, thinks from the position of a daughter, that is, from the position of a female body still unencumbered enough to think. Pregnancy or maternity, besides being a position traditionally at odds with intellect (consider the old caveat: “the baby or the book”), also represents loss of control and a resultant discomfort with the body (somatophobia). Marianne Hirsch, in The Mother/Daughter Plot, isolates both lack of control and somatophobia as two areas “of avoidance and discomfort with the maternal” (165) often apparent in feminist rhetoric. In The Women’s Room, one of Marilyn French’s characters sums up pregnancy as a time when a woman loses control of her body (and, by extension, her mind) as well as her identity: Pregnancy is a long waiting in which you learn what it means completely to lose control over your life. There are no coffee breaks; no days off in which you regain your normal shape and self, and can return refreshed to your labors. You can’t wish away even for an hour the thing that is swelling you up, stretching your stomach until the skin feels as if it will burst, kicking you from the inside until you are black and blue. You can’t even hit back without hurting yourself. The condition and you are identical: you are no longer a person, but a pregnancy. (69) With pregnancy, you are “no longer a person,” you are no longer “you.” Logically, the next question is, “Will you still be you when you become a mother?” For Simone de Beauvoir the answer would be “No”: pregnancy and motherhood rob a woman of her identity and her intellect. Over and over again, in her interviews and in her books, Beauvoir refers to mothers as slaves reduced to bodies and cut off from intellectual pursuits. Beauvoir’s description of pregnancy, from her influential book, The Second Sex (1949), sounds very much like the description quoted above from The Women’s Room. While French’s character emphasizes how much pregnancy overtakes a woman’s identity, Beauvoir goes further and depicts pregnancy more like a disease that ultimately annihilates awoman: [the fetus is:] an enrichment and an injury; the fetus is a part of her body, and it is a parasite that feeds on it; she possesses it, and she is possessed by it; it represents the future and, carrying it, she feels herself vast as the world; but this very opulence annihilates her, she feels that she herself is no longer anything. (emphasis added, 495) In this theorization, a woman not only loses her former identity in the process of pregnancy, but actually loses her mind, as Beauvoir illustrates when she describes the pregnant woman in less than human terms: . . . but in the mother-to-be the antithesis of subject and object ceases to exist; she and the child with which she is swollen make up together an equivocal pair overwhelmed by life. Ensnared by nature, the pregnant woman is plant and animal, a stock-pile of colloids, an incubator, an egg; she scares children proud of their young, straight bodies and makes young people titter contemptuously because she is a human being, a conscious and free individual who has become life’s passive instrument. (495) Beauvoir’s perspective in the above quotation attracts comment. Though The Second Sex ostensibly is presented as an objective critique there is no attempt at objectivity here. In what often amounts to an emotional tirade, Beauvoir relentlessly focuses on the pregnant woman’s body, equating it with an “animal” or a “stockpile of colloids” and then—rather gratuitously—states that a pregnant woman “scares children” and makes them “titter contemptuously.” Beauvoir’s descriptions of pregnancy illustrate her attitudes about the pregnant body and the resultant disintegration of the mind and identity she sees occurring with maternity. Beauvoir’s attack on motherhood is surprising unless you've read Beauvoir’s autobiographical works. There, you can see how Beauvoir systematically rejects the body—particularly a woman’s body—in favor of the life of the “mind.” And Beauvoir’s research on motherhood proves less than scientific. While she presents her findings in The Second Sex as though they are objective and backed by evidence from broad samplings, her viewpoints on motherhood rest largely on her observations of a few friends, quotes from novels, and her own personal life. Beauvoir, for instance, posits that the nausea women suffer in pregnancy demonstrates that pregnancy is not a natural state for human women given that nausea is “unknown for other mammals” (498). In evidence for this conclusion, Beauvoir preemptively cites herself, referring the reader to an earlier point in her own text! Whatever groundbreaking work Beauvoir accomplishes in The Second Sex needs to be balanced against Beauvoir’s privileging of the mind over the body as well as her evident distaste for women’s bodily processes and pregnancy in particular. Furthermore, Beauvoir’s desire to erase the body doesn’t work. Ironically, as Jane Flax points out, the search for truth in the world of pure mind ultimately leads right back to the body: The self, which is constituted by thought and created by an act of thought, by the separation of mind and body, is driven to master nature, because the self cannot ultimately deny its material character or dependence on nature. Despite Descartes’ claim, the body reasserts itself, at least at the moment of death. (28) And, can one really separate the mind from the body? Jean-François Lyotard provocatively explores this question in his essay, “Can Thought Go On without a Body?” Lyotard considers whether technology could create machines “to make thinking materially possible” after our bodies are destroyed (77). Lyotard concludes that not only is thought impossibly entwined with the body but that the body actually creates thought: “Thinking and suffering overlap” (82). Thought, Lyotard posits, attempts to create endings, to once and for all silence the discomfort of the unthought: The unthought hurts. It’s uncomfortable because we’re comfortable in what’s already thought. And thinking, which is accepting this discomfort, is also, to put it bluntly, an attempt to have done with it. That’s the hope sustaining all writing (painting, etc.): that at the end, things will be better. As there is no end, this hope is illusory. (84) The impasse of artificial intelligence thus hinges on desire: thought without body has no impetus. Indeed, Lyotard questions why machines designed to mimic human minds would ever start thinking without the discomfort of the unthought making “their memory suffer” (85). We need, he continues, “machines that suffer from the burden of their memory” (85), i.e., machines with bodies. But it is precisely this burden, the burden of memory, the burden of the body, Beauvoir hopes to silence as she fashions her life into a trajectory of pure intellect. Increasingly, Beauvoir identifies herself with the life of the mind she associates with the male sphere while simultaneously excising all that connects her to her female body. Though Beauvoir points out many of women’s inequities in A Second Sex and argues that women have often been viewed as the lesser or “other” sex, ironically, it is a sex that Beauvoir seems to reject as well. adapted from a prior publication

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    it seems it has taken me almost a year to finish this book. in my defense it's 701 pages. for as long as i can remember, since first i heard her name and after when i knew that there is a book called the second sex written by a French woman (and i admire the french), i have wanted to read it. the years passed by, i was playing with the idea of learning as much french as i can to read it in the original but alas, so little time, so many books to read. and i also have a fetish for books in paper and it seems it has taken me almost a year to finish this book. in my defense it's 701 pages. for as long as i can remember, since first i heard her name and after when i knew that there is a book called the second sex written by a French woman (and i admire the french), i have wanted to read it. the years passed by, i was playing with the idea of learning as much french as i can to read it in the original but alas, so little time, so many books to read. and i also have a fetish for books in paper and i search all over the world before i resign to reading a PDF of a book. well i searched and searched and then searched some more but no signs of this book (and the Persian version doesn't count cause let's face it when things get tough, translations get rough). anyways, as a student of English Literature and discovering myself through the years, i realized the more i live, the more i see, the more i read, the more i feel that i am a feminist, so i picked up (or got stuck with) my thesis subject: Difference Feminism, and NOW i had to read this book, let's face it. This woman started Feminism. and so it began, my one year journey to reading this masterpiece. first chapter and i was blown away, even though it's all about biology (the first chapter), she talks about the female of a lot of species but even that is interesting. in the next chapters she looks at women from every single possible view, within, without, social, biological, philosophical, historical, cultural, she probes everywhere, the conscious and the unconscious, she goes deep and then deeper than you knew existed, to explain the why and the how and the when of why women are the way they are, who is doing this to us, why hasn't it changed through the years, who benefits from all this and then after 600 pages of fabulous reading, comes the sweet conclusion of how to fix it, how to change it, how to overcome. and i love how she just like Woolf is not interested in separating men and women, she believes in difference and equality. no one needs to hate, we don't need to fight, we just need to look deep inside and find our answers, because no matter how hard you fight it, the future IS coming, and the future is equal.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Lather

    700 pages of magical reality. Beauvoir is one of those handful writers, worth a name. Simone's narrative quality is so much powerful, I've never experienced before. A must read for third world. I will be revisiting this book very soon. 700 pages of magical reality. Beauvoir is one of those handful writers, worth a name. Simone's narrative quality is so much powerful, I've never experienced before. A must read for third world. I will be revisiting this book very soon.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    This unfortunately was the short version of Simone de Beauvoir's 'The Second Sex' as I made a mistake when ordering (because of the price), so this is only extracts from the full version which hopefully will read at another time. As a passionate supporter of feminism, equality and sexual liberation for women this was an interesting and for it's time controversial take on feminist philosophy and would suit anyone who doesn't have the time on their hands to read the longer edition, but I am a litt This unfortunately was the short version of Simone de Beauvoir's 'The Second Sex' as I made a mistake when ordering (because of the price), so this is only extracts from the full version which hopefully will read at another time. As a passionate supporter of feminism, equality and sexual liberation for women this was an interesting and for it's time controversial take on feminist philosophy and would suit anyone who doesn't have the time on their hands to read the longer edition, but I am a little frustrated as it clearly has nowhere near the depth that obviously the full version would have. It did however send me on a trip down memory lane as a few years back with my then partner I participated in a rally/demo for women's lib which lead me to believe the only man present would be me, not true at all, there were men and women of all ages that totally blew me away!, it was a peaceful and worthy way to show my solidarity with the opposite sex. I am sure this book had a massive impact back in the late forties when first released, and opened the eyes of the repressed and those who felt chained to the kitchen sink. Well done Simone.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    No Wonder Intrigue and Strife Abound "A Man never begins by representing himself as an individual of a certain sex; it goes without saying that he is a Man." Man represents himself as both the positive and the neutral. He represents Woman as the negative. Man represents himself as objective. He represents Woman as subjective. Ironically, Man is the Subject, but objective; Woman is the Object, but subjective. Aristotle defines a Woman in terms of a certain lack of qualities and therefore as de No Wonder Intrigue and Strife Abound "A Man never begins by representing himself as an individual of a certain sex; it goes without saying that he is a Man." Man represents himself as both the positive and the neutral. He represents Woman as the negative. Man represents himself as objective. He represents Woman as subjective. Ironically, Man is the Subject, but objective; Woman is the Object, but subjective. Aristotle defines a Woman in terms of a certain lack of qualities and therefore as defective. Woman is defined relative to Man. Man is not defined relative to Woman. Yet, both together constitute a pairing, a duality, "a totality of which the two components are necessary to one another." A pairing does not necessarily imply the permanent subjection or submission of One to the Other. Yet, a certain level of subjection is present in all relationships. "The category of the Other is as primordial as consciousness itself." It derives from the duality of the Self and the Other. De Beauvoir argues that subjection would be incomprehensible, "if in fact human society were simply a Mitsein or fellowship based on solidarity and friendliness." However, according to Hegel, we find in consciousness, the ego, itself "a fundamental hostility toward every other consciousness; the subject can be posed only in being opposed." Thus, there is subjection, but it is not simply in one direction. The Subject opposes the Object. It defines itself as the essential as opposed to the inessential. However, the other consciousness, the other ego, makes a reciprocal claim. In its (the second consciousness’) perception, it is the Subject and the first consciousness is the Object. Each Subject is the Master and each Other is the Slave. "Willy-nilly, individuals and groups are forced to realise the reciprocity of their relations." De Beauvoir asks the killer question, "How is it, then, that this reciprocity has not been recognised between the sexes, that one of the contrasting terms [the Male] is set up as the sole essential, denying any relativity in regard to its correlative [the Female] and defining the latter as pure Otherness? Why is it that Women do not dispute Male sovereignty? No Subject will readily volunteer to become the Object, the inessential; it is not the Other who, in defining [itself] as the Other, establishes the One. The Other is posed as such by the One in defining [itself] as the One. But if the Other is not to regain the status of being the One, [she] must be submissive enough to accept this alien point of view." What, then, is the origin of Woman’s submission? What is the origin of Man’s domination of Woman? Why does Man "stabilize" Woman as Object and doom her to be "overshadowed and forever transcended by another ego (conscience) which is essential and sovereign? The drama of Woman lies in this conflict between the fundamental aspirations of every Subject (ego) – who always regards the Self as the essential – and the compulsions of a situation in which she is the inessential? What circumstances limit Woman’s liberty and how can they be overcome?" Although built on a philosophical foundation, "The Second Sex" seeks concrete answers to these questions.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Helynne

    This extensive, scholarly study, written in 1946 by French existentialist novelist and feminist Simone de Beauvoir is a seminal text for 20th-century feminism. The lengthy study contains numerous chapters, beginning with the history of women in societies throughout the world. Beauvoir's first basic observation is that the world has always been dominated by men--hence, her title that names women as "the second sex" or "le deuxième sexe." Her premise that runs through the book is that there is no This extensive, scholarly study, written in 1946 by French existentialist novelist and feminist Simone de Beauvoir is a seminal text for 20th-century feminism. The lengthy study contains numerous chapters, beginning with the history of women in societies throughout the world. Beauvoir's first basic observation is that the world has always been dominated by men--hence, her title that names women as "the second sex" or "le deuxième sexe." Her premise that runs through the book is that there is no valid reason for the age-old phenomenon of a male-dominated world. "But what privilege has permitted [men] to dominate women?" she asks. She notes that it was men who created values, mores, and religions. Therefore, male prejudices rather than any inborn defects in women, have resulted in the debased position of females in society. Beauvoir is equally adamant about the need for women to rise above the traditionally inferior education with which men have limited their influence. Beauvoir also criticizes the fact that married women under French law were treated for centuries as minors; that is, more as daughters of their husbands than as spouses. The law that allowed such subjugation—and even demanded that a wife obey her husband— continued in France until 1942, just four years before the publication of Le Deuxième Sexe. And here is a fact that I complain about to my French students all the time: American women did not receive the right to vote until 1920, which is bad enough, but French women did not get to vote until 1946 (coincidentally, the same year The Second Sex was published)! But lest I am giving the impression that Beauvoir is a man-hater, I hasten to add that she is not. She is simply urging equality of the sexes and the chance (and desire) for women everywhere to reach a higher potential and to function mentally, emotionally, and creatively on the same level that formerly has been reserved just for men. Also, although Beauvoir opted not to marry or have children (in fact, she was one of the first women to request and receive a tubal ligation), she had a long live-in relationship with fellow existential writer Jean-Paul Sartre. Theirs was a true meeting of the minds. There are many, many more interesting points Beauvoir makes about feminism as she urges women of her time and in the future to rise to their full intellectual and creative potential. This is a fairly long and dense read, so plunge in, take it slowly, mark up the text, and take a billion notes. I plugged away gamely at the French version for a while, then relented and read the rest of the work in English with my French version nearby for highlighting and note-taking. It was well worth the time in both languages!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    The Second Sex is one of those dense old feminist classics I was embarrassed not to have read. When I finally started it last month, it was almost impossible to put it down (though I did take a break in order to read William Vollmann's new magnum opus.) Simone de Beauvoir theorizes, hypothesizes, and generalizes about every phase of a woman's life, from infancy to old age, and the events marking each phase, such as menarche, sexual initiation, childbirth, and menopause. While Nick's review makes The Second Sex is one of those dense old feminist classics I was embarrassed not to have read. When I finally started it last month, it was almost impossible to put it down (though I did take a break in order to read William Vollmann's new magnum opus.) Simone de Beauvoir theorizes, hypothesizes, and generalizes about every phase of a woman's life, from infancy to old age, and the events marking each phase, such as menarche, sexual initiation, childbirth, and menopause. While Nick's review makes some very inarguable points about the over-generalizations and untestable hypotheses that are offered throughout the text, most of the ideas proffered are fascinating and recognizable to probably any woman who reads it. Bearing in mind that this book was published in 1949 and translated (poorly, according to many scholars) into English in 1953, it's worth noting that gender relations in Western society have advanced tremendously since this time; however, there remains enough insidious and institutionalized sexism for de Beauvoir's theories to still be relevant.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    Video Review 2020: Hopefully I won't be burnt at the stake for making an unfavourable review about this. -----2017 Review------ This isn't light reading, and in retrospect, I wouldn't recommend you read it unless your university or lover forces you to do so. This was a painful and frustrating read for me as reflected in the names I gave it I soldiered through it: "Being second, sucks" "Why Kurt Vonnegut hated the semi-colon" "The most masochistic thing I ever did" "Comprehensively diabolical" "Two legs b Video Review 2020: Hopefully I won't be burnt at the stake for making an unfavourable review about this. -----2017 Review------ This isn't light reading, and in retrospect, I wouldn't recommend you read it unless your university or lover forces you to do so. This was a painful and frustrating read for me as reflected in the names I gave it I soldiered through it: "Being second, sucks" "Why Kurt Vonnegut hated the semi-colon" "The most masochistic thing I ever did" "Comprehensively diabolical" "Two legs bad, four legs good" "Acrimonious Marriage Simulator" "Disempowering pregnancy" "How Men Disgust Me" "Having and Eating Your Cake" This book could be structured as: Vol.1.Pt.1.: Simone pretends to be an authority on biological psychiatry, psychoanalysis and history. Vol.1.Pt.2: Simone notes innumerable instances, as if it were not somehow already apparent, that history has always kept woman in a subordinate socioeconomic position within the family. Vol.1.Pt.3.: Simone uses fiction to support her views on how real women feel in real situations. Vol.2.Pt.1-3: Simone uses psychiatric case studies and anecdotes to describe the psychological development of girls as they grow up. Best part of the book. Vol.2.Pt.4: She states that she thinks that a woman's identity should be independent of her relation to man. In this review I'm going to omit my personal feelings and experiences and try and argue that this book receives more attention than it deserves and is most likely not worth your full attention (you can skim-read it, sure). a. Genre issues I believe the book is a polemic. To me this not a work of ethical philosophy, sociocultural theory, psychoanalytic theory or history, because it posed no constructive system of behaviour, no original insight to dystopian or utopian ideals regarding gender, no original explanation of instinctive drives behind behaviours, and no extensively cited or statistically weighted accounts of previous standards of civilization. A strong polemic to me requires a clear goal, structure and discarding of counterarguments, which I think were undeniably absent from Volume One, and anticlimactically emerged at the end of Volume Two. b. Excessive & Unconstructive Quotations First, it is no exaggeration that at least a third of the book are direct quotes other books. Even if she wrote the remaining two thirds brilliantly, the majority of it should be based on interpreting the work of others and so this text should be seen as a critique/review/meta-analysis of other feminist works before it. This is the main reason I think this book is highly rated generally: readers appreciate someone bringing citations of works classed as feminist together that they will never have to read so they can sample the best of them and perhaps recognize their names in the future perhaps so as to sound progressive. Second, school teaches us PQD: make a point, cite evidence perhaps in the form of a quotation, and then develop what this means to the specific question. This book is almost entirely PQPQPQ ad nauseam. Evidence of this comes from the fact that when you ask people to tell you what is exceptional about this book they will blindly repeat "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman". I'd like to tell you that she was the first to insinuate this, or to say that she develops this any further, but I simply can't. Third, I think her quoted sources provide greater insight and constructive views, I just find that Wollstonecraft's Vindication may be dated but had a clearer goal, Woolf's A Room With A View was more honest and unifying for heterosexuals, and Plath's works have more detailed and realistic representations of heterosexual bitterness and disgust. c. Playing Teacher One of the general issues I have with the book is that her haughtiness is more than obnoxious—it obfuscates deficiencies of evidence. While I surprisingly commend her criticisms of Freud on female psychology (better than some I saw in Horney's work), I think she is being dishonest in trying to make counterarguments in these fields in which she is clearly not specialized. The semi-colons don't come across as logical affirmations, but as passive aggressive backhands. She assumes with the authority of a psychiatrist that the female psychiatric patient anecdotes (which make up most of her evidence) are accurate, and in no way involve misguidedly or disproportionately projecting female suffering onto man. This book demonstrates that citing more sources and adding more pages does not add weight to your argument if you are not using them appropriately, even if you insist this is the case. She rambles for points which add nothing to her argument and weakly dismisses highly relevant counterarguments, such as suicide gender ratios in economically developed countries. d. Pseudo-separatism I just don't see how this book can benefit societal relations, when it promotes only resentment, and between socioeconomic/class heterosexual subgroups: careerist women vs. family women, careerist women vs. men, women vs. feminist men. I'm more forgiving and perhaps empathizing of explicitly separatist feminism, because this book seems to be on the fence about what it concretely wants from and to do with men. I'm also a bit disappointed that she seems to try to distance the book from feminist agenda in the introduction, while clearly being 'a greatest hits for first-wave feminism' if there ever was one. ------ No irony intended but I don't think this book was written for me and so my review is probably not all that helpful to those I think it was intended for—hopefully you won't find it as tedious to read as I did.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Monson

    Fantastic! Should be distributed in 7th grade to all females. It is the handbook we were looking for.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vartika

    Most people consider The Second Sex to be the Feminist 'Bible'. While Beauvoir's text is certainly a seminal text in feminism — both in terms of feminist theory and the larger movement for emancipation — it has some of the same flaws as its theological counterpart(s). Beauvoir starts her nearly-800-pages-long existential project for the woman's condition with a hugely impressive Introduction highlighting some of the principal arguments of the feminist movement and why it exists. Going forth, s Most people consider The Second Sex to be the Feminist 'Bible'. While Beauvoir's text is certainly a seminal text in feminism — both in terms of feminist theory and the larger movement for emancipation — it has some of the same flaws as its theological counterpart(s). Beauvoir starts her nearly-800-pages-long existential project for the woman's condition with a hugely impressive Introduction highlighting some of the principal arguments of the feminist movement and why it exists. Going forth, she divides The Second Sex into two books, the first of which, entitled 'Facts and Myths', undertakes meticulous research in looking at and seeking to counter male arguments about women through biology; psychology; historical materialism; history; mythology; and literature. Book II, 'Woman's Life Today', traces the various phases and conditions of women throughout their development, debunking the myth of the "eternal feminine" and arguing about the development of this feminine through various factors in lived reality and conditioning that thwart women into alterity instead of transcendence. She looks at the various roles the adult bourgeois woman performs, studies some ways in which they reinforce their own dependency, and looks at the barriers to real equality the independent woman in the 1940s continues to face. Much of Beauvoir's arguments hold currency today in that they deal with issues that are as yet prevalent. Her ideas about education/upbringing and feminine narcissism as well as those regarding birth control and marriage are those that we still discuss in terms of feminist perspective today. Particularly striking are her statements about some fundamentals of women's oppression — that as victims of class and other male institutions they are unable to form a coherent group of their very own and representing their own interests, despite comprising roughly half of all human population. However, just like many revered theological texts such as the Bible, a good chunk of The Second Sex emerges through the test of time as horribly dated; some of it may even be considered sexist when looked at from the lens of our times. One obvious limitation lies in the sources available for the author to refer to and infer from: in the fields of biology and psychology; and especially psychoanalysis; most of the studies Beauvoir interacts with in writing this book have since then been disproven and discarded, and moreover also suffer from the subjective biases of the men who conducted and recorded them. Moreover, while Beauvoir often refutes and counters the affirmations of these studies, she also bases some of her own suppositions on them. Thus, many of her arguments — particularly those about women's pain and 'imagined' diseases and women's behaviours in marriage and old age — end up perpetuating the same masculinist assumptions and attitudes they collectively seek to fight against. Similarly, while she lays ground for the performativity of gender that Judith Butler later explores in her own work on queer theory; Beauvoir takes a rather ambiguous stance on homosexuality, asserting lesbianism as a matter of choice but not quite, a confused and confusing conundrum. In fact, many errenous assertions in The Second Sex, such as its stance on lesbianism, result from the restrictions of her theoretical framework (namely that of Existentialism). Beauvoir is also guilty, as many women of her time, of overlooking intersectionality: her work is modelled on women of her own kind, and yet she generalises these specific behaviours onto all of womankind. While she does include examples from the Orient, she only does so to fit her own thesis and does not situate them in a proper context. Thus, perspectives from women belonging to the working class and women of colour are absent in her work, and the actualities and values of the women she constructs throughout the text difficult to ascribe. It is also true that Beauvoir's writing here is prone to taking to the inaccessible flourishes of the ivory towers of academese, and one often finds her work difficult to engage with and to sustain interest in. I found myself skimming over at least some of her ideas — perhaps only because my position in time means that I know better, but also out of the sheer tedium of reading through some things. I guess that as a woman writing at her time, Beauvoir had to really justify her assertions, but at some points she seems to have done it at the cost of lucidity. Nevertheless, The Second Sex raises some of the most important and undeniably cogent points regarding the subjection and emancipation of women, as well as about human nature itself. The book lays essential groundwork for what we learn and build on as feminists today, and even its mistakes allow us the space for greater assertion and amendment. It remains, despite its flaws, an essential read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Petre

    The Second Sex examines gender as a social construct in society, especially how the position of women determines their oppression through setting woman as "other" in relation to man and masculine institutions. The book represents a classic manifesto of the liberated woman, its subversiveness has changed how we think of women. This book explores wholeness of a woman's life. The first part is about facts and myths, exploring the woman through the point of view of biology, psychoanalysis and histori The Second Sex examines gender as a social construct in society, especially how the position of women determines their oppression through setting woman as "other" in relation to man and masculine institutions. The book represents a classic manifesto of the liberated woman, its subversiveness has changed how we think of women. This book explores wholeness of a woman's life. The first part is about facts and myths, exploring the woman through the point of view of biology, psychoanalysis and historical materialism. The second part examines the lived experience of women in childhood and their sexual initiation, marriage, woman as a mother, their social life to old age. The book ends with project toward liberation and emergence of the independent woman. Must Read: 4.5/5

  19. 4 out of 5

    Soycd

    “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Incredibly interesting and eye-opening essay that describes the oppression of women throughout the years. Beauvoir analyses the historical, biological and socio-economic conditions that have led females to become the second sex and tries to define a path for them to overcome that disadvantages and fulfill their destiny. One of the best passages was the chapter where Beauvoir depicted the circumstances that led woman to be left behind in art: Men we “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Incredibly interesting and eye-opening essay that describes the oppression of women throughout the years. Beauvoir analyses the historical, biological and socio-economic conditions that have led females to become the second sex and tries to define a path for them to overcome that disadvantages and fulfill their destiny. One of the best passages was the chapter where Beauvoir depicted the circumstances that led woman to be left behind in art: Men we call great are those who—in one way or another—take the weight of the world on their shoulders; they have done more or less well, they have succeeded in re-creating it or they have failed; but they took on this enormous burden in the first place. This is what no woman has ever done, what no woman has ever been able to do. It takes belonging to the privileged caste to view the universe as one’s own, to consider oneself as guilty of its faults and take pride in its progress; those alone who are at the controls have the opportunity to justify it by changing, thinking, and revealing it; only they can identify with it and try to leave their imprint on it. Until now it has only been possible for Man to be incarnated in the man, not the woman. Moreover, individuals who appear exceptional to us, the ones we honor with the name of genius, are those who tried to work out the fate of all humanity in their particular lives. No woman has thought herself authorized to do that. How could van Gogh have been born woman? Every woman should read this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Poet Gentleness

    Why I never manage to find the right edition of the book I'm reading on Goodreads baffles me. Twice I've read Beauvoir in French. Mine is an old treasured edition, which I didn't find listed here. So, I set to read it again in English. It would be quite weird to write the review in English and quote Beauvoir in French... Alors, on y va! Humanity is not an animal species, it is a historical reality. Human society is an antiphysis – in a sense it is against nature; it does not passively submit to Why I never manage to find the right edition of the book I'm reading on Goodreads baffles me. Twice I've read Beauvoir in French. Mine is an old treasured edition, which I didn't find listed here. So, I set to read it again in English. It would be quite weird to write the review in English and quote Beauvoir in French... Alors, on y va! Humanity is not an animal species, it is a historical reality. Human society is an antiphysis – in a sense it is against nature; it does not passively submit to the presence of nature but rather takes over the control of nature on its own behalf. This review was due for a few weeks because I have a passion and a non-orthodox view of Beauvoir's ideas. (Or maybe I have a full comprehension of her ideas and that still surprises me. I'm always wondering and wool-gathering about philosophical concepts). Raised in a very traditional Portuguese and Italian family, the first time I claimed I loved Beauvoir's works, there was an uproar in my house. I was astonished: both my grandmothers worked as teachers, my mother was (is) a lawyer and I was already in Law School... So, why was all that commotion about? Oh! Beauvoir was one of those who threw their bras in the bonfires and was not feminine; had weird relationships, was an atheist, talked about coitus and penis, so on and so forth... Being young then, I just shrugged inward and as a good girl let the oldest and wisest lecture me, but with a strike of defiance already blazing in my veins, I hummed a litany in my mind: Your words are not compatible with your behaviours and for sure I'll not be submissive to anyone. What I didn't perceive then, and I can see clearer now is that at the time Le Deusième Sexe was written, women, specially those raised in Christianity, were still regarded as appendices of men - And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. in the Bible And in the middle the authoritarian Brazilian regimen of the 80's, independent women yet saw themselves as utterly dependable and submissive to their strong, rich (or not), all-so-powerful-male husbands. I don't particularly like this quote, but as we are not talking about domestic violence here, this is a truth that cannot be denied: It must be admitted that the males find in woman more complicity than the oppressor usually finds in the oppressed. Even more surprising to me was that all the women in my family truly believed that, to be feminine and agreeable, they had to be submissive to their husbands' whims, even though they had their own professions, jobs, opinions and wealth. Their existences were strictly linked to their husbands and children, and that was a powerful leash they would not release. Their family came first. Their husbands were the head of the family, the chiefs, the ones who gave the last word. And they, the women, the wives, the mothers, were the keeper of the key to that golden cage, which they secretly entrusted in their souls. Well, that was in the 80's; but I can fairly say that nowadays there are many that still live in that caveman style. And, to my chagrin, I have been seeing a backward movement, done by a few more people - or by a lot more? - who, by sheer ignorance, are willing to return to the past dominant-submissive paternalist regimen. I questioned myself: Will this dreadful movement spread? That is why I choose to re-read 'The Second Sex' a third time (and I'll will probably revisit it in a decade or so). IMHO, her most famous quote: One is not born, but rather, becomes a woman., highlights she has never denied that women are women from the very beginning, that we are born females, physiological different from males, who when grown will become the stronger, bigger Tarzan stereotypes because girls and boys are taught differently on how to behave; And in their Tarzan mask or not, men are no less different from their females or males companions because strength is not an issue anymore, but individuality is. So, I can say myself that: Men are not only born men, but raised as one, confirming themselves as Tarzans. Also, what she wants to emphasise with the quote above is that us, society, have to learn to see oneself as ONE first, to then appreciate the other ONE, with all their oddities and similarities and therefore choose, or not. Freedom to be. For me, it's exactly in this point where resides the power of Beauvoir's work: existentialism. TO BE A WOMAN, to become a woman, is to accept and LEARN the full capacity of what a woman has intrinsically in her being, not denying weaknesses, not diminishing strengths, and, especially, not trying to emulate man. The duality of weakness and strength varies in each and every one of us, human beings, creating a beautiful diversity that allows us to choose, match and collaborate to fulfil whatever another ONE is in need, and as a team, walk together in the path of life. I am a woman; I don't have the same strength as another man of my size and age has, but I have other capacities that equal or maybe even excel his; And then no man can gestate, give birth or feed an infant, and that doesn't diminishes my rights - or his rights - as a human being - much on the opposite, I have different rights because of my womanly differences. (Thank God!!) But if I had been born a man, stronger, quicker and taller and could not find a woman that would stand by me, to join forces with me, what would I be? A nothingness, a waste, because One doesn't exist without the Look of another One. Women were, are and, will always be alike to men, Others too, which populated this world, because To decline to accept such notions as the eternal feminine, the black soul, the Jewish character, is not to deny that Jews, Negroes, women exist today – this denial does not represent a liberation for those concerned, but rather a flight from reality. In a splendid and easy analysis - sometimes even in an odd hilarious way, as Beauvoir quotes absurdities stated by great philosophers, zoologists and others scientists, concerning ovules, spermatozoids and copulation - she wanders through and plunges deep in biology, physiology, psychoanalysis, history and politics, to question, and question again why is such the inferior position of women in society. She doesn't pretend to have all the answers, although she is quite opinionated. What she wants and does magnificently is to point and destroy so many stereotypes that had been firmly entrusted in the feminine and masculine beliefs and behaviours, showing how far those concepts drove women and men apart, when the road should have united them. I particularly like this passage: All these dissertations [about psychophysiological parallelism and existence of a natural hierarchy] which mingle a vague naturalism with a still more vague ethics or aesthetics are pure verbiage. It is only in a human perspective that we can compare the female and the male of the human species. But man is defined as a being who is not fixed, who makes himself what he is. As Merleau-Ponty very justly puts it, man is not a natural species: he is a historical idea. Woman is not a completed reality, but rather a becoming, and it is in her becoming that she should be compared with man; that is to say, her possibilities should be defined. What gives rise to much of the debate is the tendency to reduce her to what she has been, to what she is today, in raising the question of her capabilities; for the fact is that capabilities are clearly manifested only when they have been realised – but the fact is also that when we have to do with a being whose nature is transcendent action, we can never close the books. Furthermore, it's baffling the easiness with which Beauvoir dismantles and pushes away psychoanalysis notions (especially Freud's and Adler's) - not disregarding their scientific contributions and insights - of the penis as a symbol of power and dominance, by simply demonstrating that Freud and Adler were not only males, partial judges not entirely cognisant of the feminine psyche, but also lacking in never having used the feminine libido as a starting point, always having as their initial assumption the masculine libido. Besides, it doesn't escapes her Freud's confessed ignorance of the origin of male supremacy. In addition, there was an already artificial stablished situation; economical and social structure, that connected individuals of identical conditions of society, therefore setting a predeterminate behaviour, which could only be viewed and understood on its historical circumstances. Analysing their theories - and others - in reference to their time and, reinforcing that psychoanalysis dealt with the concept of the 'collective unconscious' and that it sees the drama of the individual unfolding within oneself, which thus removes the possibility of freedom, of choice, Beauvoir refutes their concepts as the psycho drama often and only happens because of the relationships, that are only possible when One is in contact with the other Ones around oneself and the world; In the materialism chapter, or rather on her analysis of government politics, she confronts Engels, Marx, socialism, totalitarian and authoritative regimens, revealing their tricks to revive with force the paternalistic notions and the subaltern position of women in their society. One by one, she rips away the veils, and unclothed, none are able to explain or justify their means, such is their simplicity of thought. As she had done with psychoanalysis, she bares all the theses from their false premises, which turned technology and sexuality in reasons to make women the other, the subject. In her hands, they are just mysterious abstractions, unless they are fully integrated with the individual and Its position in society. No technology, no sexuality are valuable to define or justify the existence of women as an object of subjugation, a slave to men's domination. The main point here is: women are women and men are men and, as such, they exist as peculiar individuals - or rather, they should; AND MORE, imho, Beauvoir doesn't make the distinction based on sex or on gender, but in ethics, ideas, and behaviour. That is what I unconsciously meant when I reviewed a book about gender gap a few months ago. We are not genders; We are not religions; We are not colours. We are all different human beings, living in the same space and we should respect the One as the other One should respect us. And to complete the though, if the One doesn't show us Its respect, be One a man or a woman, we don't need to resort to unbounded violence or indignant, criminal behaviours to be heard or seen. Many successful revolutions were made in peace and with calm, well-spoken words. This and much more make this work of art so special and such a must read. It was brilliantly written by a woman, who succeeded by her own merits, and stood her ground not being a subject, but as One, seeing herself not only as a woman, but as a conscious being, deserving respect of society, her pair, and her peers. It's a landmark, that states that if we, as society, don't respect ourselves there will never be true respect neither for men, nor for women, because one is the half of the other. There is no value in the subdued look of a defeated or crushed other; There is no real complicity between a couple when one is controlled by power, force or fear of the controller. There is no authenticity in a subjugated behaviour of an oppressed; And there is no dignity to an unfair conquerer; a liar tyrant or an aggressive dominator. If we, as society, become more conscious of our differences, we will understand that we are all Ones and at the same time Others. Her conclusion, which I'll not spoil because it should be read, re-read and read again, it's fabulous and astonishing, because even though this text was written in 1949, it still applies to too many situations women still find themselves in the so-called contemporary and enlightened societies. It goes without saying that in some places of this round world some women have not even reached the first stage of knowledge or freedom of thinking of such subjects. Unfortunately. As I don't pretend to have or propose answers to such a difficult subject that have been discussed for others much more capable than myself, I end this review bowing to Beauvoir's wiseness - and why not say, dream - hoping it will become true - and soon, and make hers my words: it is not as single individuals that human beings are to be defined in the first place; men and women have never stood opposed to each other in single combat; the couple is an original Mitsein, a basic combination; and as such it always appears as a permanent or temporary element in a large collectivity. P.S. - In my rustic German, I would translate Mitsein as communion. If anyone knows a better translation, please correct me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    This was surprisingly old-fashioned. It was published in 1949 but it just seems so out-dated and often - dare I say it? - wrong and irrelevant. de Beauvoir's mission is to define woman and find out why the male is the "default" or "normal" sex, while the female sex is the other, the one who deviates from the norm. She does this by looking at biology, psychoanalysis, the history of women from the stone ages to today (or well, 1949) in France, USA, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Scandinavia, the Middle East. This was surprisingly old-fashioned. It was published in 1949 but it just seems so out-dated and often - dare I say it? - wrong and irrelevant. de Beauvoir's mission is to define woman and find out why the male is the "default" or "normal" sex, while the female sex is the other, the one who deviates from the norm. She does this by looking at biology, psychoanalysis, the history of women from the stone ages to today (or well, 1949) in France, USA, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Scandinavia, the Middle East...She looks at how women have been represented in literature, religion and myths, and she looks at the different stages of a woman's life, from childhood through puberty to middle age. She leaves no stone unturned, and yet it just seems... out-dated. But what is worse, de Beauvoir comes across as a bitter old hag who blames men that their lives are so easy, while women's are oh, so hard. For instance, puberty is apparently easy for boys, while it leads to neurosis and mental break-downs in girls. Men love conquering the world and see women as silly, stupid puppets, while women hate their lot in life, hate their off-spring, hate their husbands and are filled with Freudian complexes. When de Beauvoir started analysing why some women become lesbians I had to laugh out loud (this is one of the places where the out-datedness shines through). The introduction was great and thought-provoking, the first chapter boring, the next handful of chapters OK, and from there on I started skipping pages here and there because of all the repetitions. de Beauvoir's central message can be boiled down to this: Men achieve transcendence, women are doomed to immanence (and I cannot tell you how many times she wrote that during the 740 pages. Every third page had de B. blaming men their transcendence and regretting women their immanence from whence everything bad comes. Oh, the repetitions!) And also, much as I love literature, I hardly think quoting passages from D.H.Lawrence, Tolstoy or even my beloved Virginia Woolf constitutes hardcore truth or facts that can be used in scientific study, which is what Simone de B. does here. Finally, it is hard to take someone seriously who claims that a) marriages are never founded on love but is merely a social institution meant to keep women in place, and b) "Women's fellow feeling rarely rises to genuine friendship" because women must fight individually to gain a place in the masculine world and so they are hostile towards other women. Seriously. Simone de Beauvoir has not aged well.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jill Collins

    I read several criticisms that assert Simone de Beauvoir must hate women, or perhaps she simply hates being a woman. These reviewers are so close to insight but they do seem to miss the point. Throughout The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir constantly reaffirms the state and condition of femininity is a direct result of woman's situation. Women are not victims of hormones or mysterious whims, they are victims of systematic oppression. Women are defined as other, they have no identity of their own, I read several criticisms that assert Simone de Beauvoir must hate women, or perhaps she simply hates being a woman. These reviewers are so close to insight but they do seem to miss the point. Throughout The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir constantly reaffirms the state and condition of femininity is a direct result of woman's situation. Women are not victims of hormones or mysterious whims, they are victims of systematic oppression. Women are defined as other, they have no identity of their own, everything is in relation to man. Woman's purpose, joy, sorrow - man, man, man. Does Simone de Beauvoir write about women with judgement, occasionally bordering on disgust? Yes. And while there is a fair share of man blaming, de Beauvoir certainly holds women accountable for their reluctance to assert themselves. I was particularly interested de Beauvoir's focus on the inclination of women to throw their lot in with the men oppressing them - instead of joining women of other races and social class. Perhaps this is why many read this volume as "woman hating," because Simone de Beauvoir is not babying women, she is critical instead of consolatory - this is the swift kick in the ass women need to propel themselves forward. Simone de Beauvoir does not hate women, she hates what women have allowed to transpire. "One is not born, but rather becomes, woman." Simply put, she hates what we have allowed ourselves to become.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    It might be owing to our short-term memory loss as masses but humanity is generally a very thankless species. The negative criticism that feminism receives, especially from women, seem, to be the result of this ingratitude. If you don't think we are all thankless folks, then tell me who invented condoms? Times are changing fast and things one generation fought so hard for could be taken for granted by the next one - and to this new generation, the struggles of the previous generation might seem It might be owing to our short-term memory loss as masses but humanity is generally a very thankless species. The negative criticism that feminism receives, especially from women, seem, to be the result of this ingratitude. If you don't think we are all thankless folks, then tell me who invented condoms? Times are changing fast and things one generation fought so hard for could be taken for granted by the next one - and to this new generation, the struggles of the previous generation might seem comical. People had grown to dislike her while she was still alive. The negative reviews of Simone De Beviour's thesis seem to spring from this lack of understanding. I am not a feminist myself (assuming men can be that) as it seems to mean a lot of different things to different people. I can't ever be sure what a particular person means when he or she say that they are feminist. If the belief in the fact that women are worse off in society be the definition of feminism might be used as defining characteristic, than one runs the risk of calling people with patronizing ways toward women feminists - most religions have such patronizing ways. A lot of people in India would want women to stay indoors after dusk 'for their own safety' - sometimes they are genuinely concerned but the point is most feminists I like reading from won't agree - I don't either. .... Or it might mean to others, stronger women. The worst of it is Indian School girls being taught karate so that they might be able to defend themselves. An example I have seen commonly among western people is to shame weak female characters. Any weak female characters especially one weakened by love for a man is a 'spineless' character. Two examples of fictional characters that are criticized for this are Bella from Twilight (which I have not read) and Tonks from Harry Potter series (Tonks btw was the only character in series I had a crush on). From saying that 'it is the duty of every woman to be strong' you are just one step away from saying 'whatever happens to a weak is deserved by her because of her weakness'. I think it a great precept of Feminism that every woman should have a source of her own income, but not all of them can or they might not find work best suited to their abilities and to some people - both men and women, even having breakfast is an act of anguish. I hope you get why I don't like calling myself a feminist. But I do have an outsider's admiration for certain feminists - Charlotte Bronte, Henrik Ibsen, Woolf and now Beauviour. Like most writers who are too rhetorical, she is open to misinterpretation at times - especially if you only read the book in parts. But if you ignore follies of her language, she means by feminism what every such egalitarian philosophy should mean - that we are all individuals. That not all girls (or humans) want to learn or care for self-defense techniques. What would be the purpose of laws and police if such assumptions are encouraged? That some women (and men too) can be emotionally weak at times, get depressed, for no good reason or because they are abandoned by ones they love - and that is no reason to guilt trip them. (Sometimes it is even a sign of strength or quality. Tonks was strong enough to be an Aurora but loved putting smiles on faces of others, it makes sense she should get depressed to know that someone as good a person as Lupin should give up on all hope of ever being happy). That at least seems to be a general message though Behaviour's language actually seems to encourage the opposite idea - that she is trying to talk in stereotypes. She uses the words like 'woman' and 'she' which seems to invite prejudice; but what she really means most of those times are 'some woman' and 'some of them'. She s a novelist and it shows in how she presents her arguments - many of which could make very good fictional short stories. I think Eastern Feminists can gain a lot more from the book. A lot of anti-feminist arguments she had to answer are not raised in the west anymore but might still be common in East - women have smaller brains or are less of humans, why housewife will not have a fulfilling life) or shaming based on mensuration or the arguments raised because of biological reasons. It can be a good starting book for one studying feminism at least in India. There are things though from which whole world can look - the heavy focus given to looks when we take character estimates of women (men are udged for far more qualities - their brains, physical strength, kindness, wealth etc all come into consideration but such qualities are not as valued as much among women; women are less likely to be complimented for such things); about how women are more likely to 'respect' men or make sacrifices for them (which sits at root of women giving up their careers for their husbands, a lot of D/s - but not all relationships; especially ones that turn into abuse. Respect is always a bad thing - a distancing quality and often cruel to people you worship as well as a way of lowering yourself; true for lovers friends, parent-student relationship too and true even if it is men that are supposed to respect women as the Indian version of feminists say men should - give each other a human dignity, anything more is to give them too much power for good of both parties. And sacrifices for your lover is equally cruel to both you and the lover), why women are more likely to be physically weak (less likely to be encouraged to do strength exercises in the gym, mostly they are in there to get thinner). The book though won't always stand the test of times. For example, the writer is too judgemental of actresses for example. There are a couple of more points I should like to make in case someone cares to read these boring reviews might be interested. I have recently seen feminism criticized for things that didn't result from it. One of them is the rising inequality of incomes. Some women from the USA who are quite intelligent and my friends have claim that now both man and woman have to earn when a few decades ago, one person's income was enough to maintain the household. Well, it is the fault of capitalism and not feminism - or lack of it, US government is failing to tax the rich corporations and is more willing to tax middle-class workers, so it is the fault of US government. In India too, much of inequality of income is owed to lack of proper laws and their implementation. Another related criticism is that children feel abandoned when both parents are working. It too is owed to capitalism. If incomes of middle and lower classes were to rise with GDP, that would have made the two parents to work lesser and avail them more time to spend with their children.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Fretty Panggabean

    I didn't read this book from cover to cover. See, I had to read this book because I was using feminism theory on my final thesis. But I do agree with Simone de Beauvoir's opinions that in many countries including Indonesia, women are positioned mostly as citizen number two who have less privileges than men do in so many aspects of life. What I dislike most is the double standards applied to women. It's not enough for a woman to be good at one aspect of her life, she has to be good in all aspects I didn't read this book from cover to cover. See, I had to read this book because I was using feminism theory on my final thesis. But I do agree with Simone de Beauvoir's opinions that in many countries including Indonesia, women are positioned mostly as citizen number two who have less privileges than men do in so many aspects of life. What I dislike most is the double standards applied to women. It's not enough for a woman to be good at one aspect of her life, she has to be good in all aspects to be called a good woman. For example, if you are a successful career woman, it will worth nothing if you are not a good mother (knows how to do everything at home), a good wife, a good caretaker. It doesn't work that way for men. They are either good at work or good at home and that's OK. When they're good at both, they are superb, a super dad, a super husband. And what makes it worst is, many women agree with this way of thinking. Sad.

  25. 5 out of 5

    jade

    “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. no biological, psychic, or economic destiny defines the figure that the human female takes on in society; it is civilization as a whole that elaborates this intermediary product between the male and the eunuch that is called feminine.” i know, i know. everybody and their mother (...) uses this quote when they talk about simone de beauvoir’s magnum opus: le dieuxième sexe, the bible of second wave feminism. the groundwork, the foundation, “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. no biological, psychic, or economic destiny defines the figure that the human female takes on in society; it is civilization as a whole that elaborates this intermediary product between the male and the eunuch that is called feminine.” i know, i know. everybody and their mother (...) uses this quote when they talk about simone de beauvoir’s magnum opus: le dieuxième sexe, the bible of second wave feminism. the groundwork, the foundation, the pillars upon which not only a movement but also a legislative revolution was built. the reason why i also included it, is because it’s pretty damn radical for a book from 1949. i mean, so many feminists these days have a real hard time grasping the difference between sex and gender, and yet de beauvoir already wrote it down for y’all 71 years ago! go ahead and check it out! this book is an ambitious, 800+ page meta-analysis that tackles biology, psychology, history, politics, economics and various social constructs with the purpose of answering the following question: “what is a woman?” as you can tell by the quote at the start, none of the academic fields i just listed provide the reader with a single, undisputed answer. so de beauvoir cites research, ideas, and opinions, and philosophizes from there in trying to find her answer. as a reader, you join her on that journey of (self-)discovery. it is very easy to see why this book was so revolutionary when it was published, and how some parts of it are still painfully relevant today. so many of the things de beauvoir argues for in this book are still being discussed and realized in 2020. just to name a few: redefining marriage, legalizing abortion, and ensuring that every woman has the same choice and opportunities as a man. however... not everything in this book has withstood the test of time. most of the ‘facts’ and research that de beauvoir cites is dated. especially regarding biology and psychology. and i don’t just mean dated, no, HORRENDOUSLY dated -- think fake-ass freudian analysis and the like. which she criticizes, don’t get me wrong, but she still accepts large parts of it as fact. it simply isn’t, which makes the first part of the book harder to read. and while we’re on the topic of readability... this book ain’t it, either. consider this a formal apology letter to every professor and/or lecturer i ever complained to about how their required reading was dry: i was wrong, and they were right. it was fine; at times it was even palatable. le dieuxième sexe, however, is a full-on Ivory Tower of Academia-style drought. i suffered from dehydration for two years while attempting to read this. no, the two year part is not a joke: i started and restarted this on-and-off for two years before i finally managed to finish it. it is incredibly dense, and lacks any subtlety, wit, humor or even just plain old sarcasm to spice it up with. there’s a plethora of other things you could criticize this book for, too: as a well-known philosopher, de beauvoir isn’t too short-sighted not to include observations on class interactions and colonialism. but it is never anything substantial on race or poverty, and it continues to be very far removed from reality on that aspect. and, uh, de beauvoir’s views on how lesbianism is acted upon and exists as a latent desire in all women is also… well, dated. let’s keep it at that and move on as quickly as possible. (i don’t think i have to discuss accessibility in general when i just spent a couple of paragraphs lamenting on how unreadable this is.) sigh. i feel like most of my reviews of Classique Feminist Literature™ tend to boil down to this: i get why these books were revolutionary at the time, and i commend the authors for having the guts to write them. i see how influential these books were in pushing actual change. they contain some very relatable gems, but also: huge chunks of them are dated and uncomfortable to read and make me want to tear my hair out.so! be smarter than i am and do NOT torture yourself for two years into reading this in full. check out the chapters on topics that garner your interest, and pick up a sparknotes summary on your way out. and if you’re more into spilling the tea, check out some articles on de beauvoir’s personal life. because DAMN, it was eventful. ✎ 3.0 stars.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I began reading The Second Sex in August, 2008; I finished it in May, 2010. It is not a book one reads for pleasure, in the usual sense of the word. It is written in the style of a textbook, with Jean Paul Sartre's version of existentialism as the underlying philosophical base. Since de Beauvoir wrote it in the late 1940s, it is to some degree an historical document with a French middleclass viewpoint. When I began reading and experiencing the density of the prose, I attempted to read 50 pages I began reading The Second Sex in August, 2008; I finished it in May, 2010. It is not a book one reads for pleasure, in the usual sense of the word. It is written in the style of a textbook, with Jean Paul Sartre's version of existentialism as the underlying philosophical base. Since de Beauvoir wrote it in the late 1940s, it is to some degree an historical document with a French middleclass viewpoint. When I began reading and experiencing the density of the prose, I attempted to read 50 pages a day, then decreased to 20 pages every few days and finally put it down for about a year. When I picked it back up, I finished it at the rate of about 10 pages a day a few times a week. If I hadn't studied up on some of the basic vocabulary and tenets of existentialism, I would never have made it. Since so much has been written, critically as well as hysterically, about The Second Sex, I will leave that stance alone and merely attempt to state what the book meant to me. I am very glad I read it. The author was born eleven years before my mother, so that is the generational context. My mother was an intelligent and perceptive woman with musical aspirations. She married at the age of 28, after a short career as an elementary school music teacher, and for the next twenty years devoted her days to housekeeping, marriage, raising three daughters and contributing to her church as Sunday school teacher and choir member. She made her compromises and it wasn't until my youngest sister was in high school that she even stopped to wonder who she had become and who she might have been. She raised us in the conventional attitudes towards women in 1950s middle class America. Even though I began to consider myself a feminist in the 1970s, that was primarily an attitude towards my first unhappy marriage. I have read The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer and other feminist writings, but it was The Second Sex that opened my eyes to the insidious examples, teachings and attitudes that pervaded my childhood concerning what it meant to be female. Reading this book was an experience in emotional upheaval. I discovered thought patterns and methods of existing which I hadn't even known were deep in my makeup. I have had countless hours of mostly beneficial therapy but none of that went as deep into personal self-knowledge as did some of the chapters in The Second Sex. Ultimately I finished the book feeling that I hadn't done too badly for a girl. Yes, I have missed several golden opportunities to become a more self-realized person but I feel at peace about all that. Now I am in my 60s, living the life I want to live with goals and achievements still ahead of me. I am writing a book which I hope will be enlightening for my grandchildren's generation as well as easier to assimilate than Simone de Beauvior's tome. The very week I finished the 1952 translation by H M Parshley (a male professor of zoology), a new translation, by two American women who have lived in Paris and taught English there for many years, was released. Reviews have been mixed but so were they in 1953. I will probably not attempt the new translation in the years I have left to read. I am not sure that women who could be my daughters need to read The Second Sex. In some ways it is dated for modern women growing up in Western democratic societies. But to anyone of any age who has the stamina, I would recommend reading some version of it. The book is not a man-hating work. It is a demonstration of the truth that to be oppressed you must agree with oppression; to be free you must agree with freedom and take responsibility for your own.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arda

    Additional notes (upon having read more parts on September 14): After reading the chapters on love and marriage, I had to come back here and upgrade the review from a 3 star to a 4 star, and I know I am not being generous here, because what reading those chapters did, at this particular point in time, was shift my entire way of thinking. In that respect, this book now represents a spiritual experience: an awakening of some sort. This is a reminder of the magic of books and to what people might re Additional notes (upon having read more parts on September 14): After reading the chapters on love and marriage, I had to come back here and upgrade the review from a 3 star to a 4 star, and I know I am not being generous here, because what reading those chapters did, at this particular point in time, was shift my entire way of thinking. In that respect, this book now represents a spiritual experience: an awakening of some sort. This is a reminder of the magic of books and to what people might refer to as "education." In search of a spiritual path, a calling, a faith of some sort to bring on "peace of mind", de Beauvoir shares the struggle of the path of WOMAN: Women just perceive things differently, and this "difference" embodied in the forms of sacrifice, giving and "love" - dressed up in the mask of "natural", is in fact, in many ways, indoctrination. All those expectations we have about what things should be, how men should "love" a woman, how woman is to be treated and loved, bring with them a series of expectations and ideals that will not be met. It's a lost battle. To want to "possess" and fully "have" a person leads you to a path of death: it in and of itself is targeted toward death, just like the faithful call to God: to fully losing yourself and abandoning yourself as a sacrifice to "God" is also a path of death, and "marriage," "motherhood," "love" all have within them those same "callings" for 'pure voluntary sacrifice'. It is a lost battle that drives a woman insane as she struggles to possess a man's love, to capture his eyes and looks, as she measures herself by the love that she receives, and she takes on all the insecurity that comes as a result of it all. These chapters may appear to be cynical or disappointing to some, but they have the captivating ability to shift one's complete way of thinking: particularly as a woman: wake up and do not abandon yourself in a never-ending quest for possessing anyone: not your loved one, not your children, not even your worth: the struggle to capture and possess is a never-ending struggle: give it up and realize that the path is not about abandoning the self, but about transcending beyond yourself and floating above this thing called life. "But there are few crimes that bring worse punishment than this generous mistake: to put one’s self entirely in another’s hands." "One of the misfortunes of the woman in love is that her love itself disfigures her, demolishes her; she is no more than this slave, this servant, this too-docile mirror, this too-faithful echo." "A passionately demanding soul cannot find tranquillity in love, because she sets her sights on a contradictory aim..... The situation of the woman in love is analogous: she only wants to be this loved woman, and nothing else has value in her eyes..... It is the harsh punishment inflicted on those who have not taken their destiny in their own hands." "The day when it will be possible for the woman to love in her strength and not in her weakness, not to escape from herself but to find herself, not out of resignation but to affirm herself, love will become for her as for man the source of life and not a mortal danger." Notes from Gender Studies Class (September 7): I was first introduced to Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” when I was a teenager. Why I was interested in purchasing this book when we had more than enough class reading to do at the time, I am not sure, but I do remember that reading this book back then started to make me feel more and more isolated. De Beauvoir had a certain power, I knew that, and, in turn, I knew that if I were to keep on reading her, there was a great chance I would metamorphose into something else which I was not sure I was ready for. And so, I did not continue reading at the time. This book, in some respect, scared me. For starters, De Beauvoir defies much of what we may want to learn and accept about that which has to do with conforming, pleasing, and, basically, to being feminine. We grow up with a certain notion and understanding of what it means to be a “girl” in the world at large, and in relationship to man in particular. But de Beauvoir declares that in fact “one is not born, but rather becomes, woman.” This sentence often re-visited me in different stages in life, and I would realize that regardless of the historical timeframe and the various social, geo-political perspectives that one is to consider, the sentence nevertheless has relevance, and in acknowledging an understanding of what the sentence means, we may begin to de-construct and re-construct our own perception, identity, and, eventually, our destiny as women. The general viewpoint in this book, much of which generated my discomfort in it years ago, has to do with the actual physical, biological, carnal and animalistic flesh of the makeup and libido of that which is woman. De Beauvoir refers to the female body as a “situation,” and she approaches the subject of the object (of woman) in a way that is beyond nature, and delves into questions related to what it means to “be” and “become” a woman. Woman, to some extent, is spoken about as sub-part: After all, man is whole, by which woman is part of. Man’s sexuality is deemed intact, while a woman’s libido is considered unexplainable, abstract, and incomplete. Man, in other words, is in one way or another the “it” that a woman follows, and eventually becomes part of. Among other things, de Beauvoir highlights on the other-ness of woman: she considers the subject of woman as she is presented to man as essentially being a carnal entity to an otherwise complete human being. In many ways, woman is considered as passive, and the destiny of woman is largely dictated by the social order that is attached to what becomes of her as a sexual body. To man, woman is the embodiment of sexuality, and this creates a juxtaposition between that which is instilled in the image of the mother vs. the carnal desire of sexuality. One of the expressions de Beauvoir uses is the “disquieting hostility” that woman presents to man. The sense of hostility presented by woman towards man is, to some extent, connected with the sense of intimidation I felt upon first reading this book years ago. To acknowledge much of what this book presents brings with it a sense of discomfort, and, in turn, a sense of hostility which is deemed as unfavorable to that which is otherwise supposed to be docile, accepting, nurturing, and feminine. The “feminine” has an expectation, after all, to obey and be submissive, as presumably determined by nature. De Beauvoir explains this submission in the form of woman “waiting” for man. It is this state of “waiting” which dictates much of a woman’s destiny, as it accordingly follows suit with that which is considered as going by “nature.” Yet de Beauvoir challenges what gets picked up as “nature”, and examines, instead, all of that which gets considered as nature but that which is essentially and remarkably the product of social behavior and conformity.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Luís

    "The Second Sex", six decades after it first got published, still stands supreme for its highly comprehensive work in the field of gender. Simone de Beauvoir, though writing keeping in mind her French upbringing, it is surprising to see how much her work is globally relevant, even today's time. She does not limit herself to a particular viewpoint, but sincerely tries to dig into the? Why? Of things that are concerned here. Her work is holistic, ranging from perspectives from the field of biology "The Second Sex", six decades after it first got published, still stands supreme for its highly comprehensive work in the field of gender. Simone de Beauvoir, though writing keeping in mind her French upbringing, it is surprising to see how much her work is globally relevant, even today's time. She does not limit herself to a particular viewpoint, but sincerely tries to dig into the? Why? Of things that are concerned here. Her work is holistic, ranging from perspectives from the field of biology, psychoanalysis, anthropology, sociology, law, psychology, history, amongst others! Exploring the issue, that just how the gender demarcation came into being and the whole sociology that goes along with it evolved remains her key inquest throughout the book. She initiates the book by explaining how women have not been allowed to exist in their real sense. What becomes of a woman is a social construct. The woman is what man will enable her to be. How Simone de Beauvoir puts it? Human Society is an antiphysis - in a sense, it is against nature; it does not passively submit to the presence of life but instead takes over the control of the environment on its behalf. This arrogation is not an inward, subjective operation; it is accomplished objectively in practical action? It is this viewpoint through which she tries explaining the gender discrimination that exists in the human mind. Is it in human nature to demarcate the world? Us? And the other? From a historical viewpoint, she explains that as man discovered better control over the quality, his fear and along with that, his respect for nature decreased. The women, who represented nature? For a certain mystique attached to her, and also because only she could produce life, now declined as man realized his worth. He explored, he discovered and accomplished new things. His self-esteem rose. With his increasing prosperity, his workload increased. When the man is not able to do everything himself, he has no choice but to enslave others. Woman's subjugation is a byproduct of this progress? She, who seen as the mystique in nomadic times, was seen as the other? The negative? The impure? In an agricultural society, as she could not keep up with the workload demanded from heavy agrarian tools, which the only man could handle. In a farming community, the concept of holding of property? Emerged, and with it came patriarchy, which worsened women's position to the hilt. She now is seen as a means of expanding economic and social ambitions, according to what suited the man. Recognizing the irony of things, the author explains that unlike tools that had restricted woman's participation, the industries, the machines opened for her a new era. The considerable workforce required which propelled her to come out of homes. The woman is subjected to beautification, to uncomfortable clothes, to high heels, so that she is never able to match the man's steps; that she remains so involved (read lost) in these particulars that it takes up the whole of her time and life's ambitions. The second part of the book explains women's socialization and development of self through the various stages of life, keeping in context her exceptional circumstances. She maintains how, contrary to Freud's psychoanalytic work, it is the boy who envies the girl because of the extra cajoling that she receives. Penis envy? According to her is more of a socially constructed phenomenon, rather than having any biological roots. She explains, in an entirely non-judgmental way, the insecurities and dilemmas that define women - At any stage of her life starting childhood, to attaining puberty, to being a woman in love, to being married, to sexual initiation, to being a mother, to enter old age. She also explains the situations of prostitutes and lesbians. Does she explain? Are prostitutes human sacrifices on the altar of monogamy? According to her is women's true nature, and it subjugated to meet the demands of men. Also, it explained how, through her children, a mother wants to conquer the world. Through her son, she wants to satisfy her ego. Because he is a male, he will be a conqueror, a leader one day. She takes pride in creating him. The problem starts when the children start individuating. She considers it an insult. She cannot tolerate the individuating of her double. Also, she cannot tolerate her little girl to be her double, to take her position so that the household can function without her, that the father gives more time to the daughter. Who is more charming than her - All in all, a highly detailed, deeply introspective work of utmost quality.

  29. 5 out of 5

    vicky.

    How could the Cinderella myth not retain its validity? Everything still encourages the girl to expect fortune and happiness from a “Prince Charming” instead of attempting the difficult and uncertain conquest alone. I am not a true woman. Because the majority of man that are featured in this book (and the majority of man in history) describe a true woman as “…frivolous, infantile, irresponsible, the woman subjugated to man.” Yeah, no. The book is not only about feminism, is a long essay about wom How could the Cinderella myth not retain its validity? Everything still encourages the girl to expect fortune and happiness from a “Prince Charming” instead of attempting the difficult and uncertain conquest alone. I am not a true woman. Because the majority of man that are featured in this book (and the majority of man in history) describe a true woman as “…frivolous, infantile, irresponsible, the woman subjugated to man.” Yeah, no. The book is not only about feminism, is a long essay about woman and its history. My history, my mother’s, my grandmother’s, every woman’s on earth. In its 800 pages Beauvoir tries to answer the question of how women became subjugated to man, how she is not considered an autonomous being, how women are not equals to man and exactly where the difference between them lay. She tackles these questions from a biological, mythological and social point of view, amongst others. It was truly interesting to see how through the years this views have change and how only it was in the last century that women have truly began to stand up for themselves and try to end with the crushing patriarchy. This book is consired the bible of feminists and with good reasons; every woman should read it, and then, men too. “… she harbors no desire for revolution, she would not think of eliminating herself as a sex: she simply asks that certain consequences of sexual differentiation be abolished.” It’s one of my greatest wishes –and after eight hundred pages I believe Beauvoir would agree- that one day the meaning of the word woman will sound less like slave, and more like equal.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    One isn’t born, but rather becomes, a woman Originally published in 1949, de Beauvoir’s massive analysis of the ‘othering’ of women across history and cultures is startling for its modernity, its breadth, its boldness and its unapologetic intellectual heft. Some of her assertions have been challenged more recently by feminist scholars, especially around questions of the gendering of biological bodies, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of this as a foundational and still relevant text. Some One isn’t born, but rather becomes, a woman Originally published in 1949, de Beauvoir’s massive analysis of the ‘othering’ of women across history and cultures is startling for its modernity, its breadth, its boldness and its unapologetic intellectual heft. Some of her assertions have been challenged more recently by feminist scholars, especially around questions of the gendering of biological bodies, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of this as a foundational and still relevant text. Some of the material must have been especially controversial and forward-looking for the late 1940s: the correlations drawn between misogyny and racism, for example; or the frank and direct discussion of female sexuality. Drawing on de Beauvoir’s vast amount of reading which takes in history, politics, economics, philosophy, anthropology, mythology, religion and literature, this is heavyweight and yet surprisingly engrossing and accessible reading. How depressing, then, that many of de Beauvoir’s conclusions remain as pertinent at the start of 2018 as they were in the late 1940s: Women’s actions have never been more than symbolic agitation; they have won only what men have been willing to concede to them; they have taken nothing; they have received. Nevertheless, de Beauvoir’s own fierce intelligence, boldly on show and unencumbered by any kind of modesty topos, remains itself a courageous, unbowed and ferocious feminist statement.

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