The second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) was published in 1949, at a time when women were considered inferior to men. In her book, Beauvoir argues that women have historically been considered abnormal and deviant, and have been refused control over their own existence, and were not allowed to have a job and be independent. Thus, in her work, she presents a feminism existentialism (influenced in this by her friend Jean-Paul Sartre) which prescribes a moral revolution. In fact Beauvoir has been quite influenced by the existentialist idea that existence precedes essence, and thus, one is not born a woman but becomes a woman "One is not born a woman, one becomes a woman", "today's woman is a creation of nature; we must repeat that in the human collective nothing is natural, and that among other things, women are a product developed by civilization." What Beauvoir demonstrates is that the fundamental oppression women are suffering does not have natural roots, but is rather constructed by the society they live in "it is the entire civilization that develops the intermediate product between the male and female described as a eunuch". Thus she claims that women are victims of men, and they should reject this system and free themselves from the domination of men "So far the potential of women were suffocated and lost to humanity, and it is high time that in its own interest and in that of all, that she finally gets her chance."
Her book is divided into four parts, all of which explain the different reasons why the woman is oppressed by the society she lives in, on the social, economical, political, and sexual level. She thus explains how some biological circumstances make the woman consider herself as inferior.
[...] That is how girls learn to have a passive behaviour towards the world, they are in fact resigned to the fact that they cannot do everything they want, that everything is not possible for them, contrary to boys who are strongly encouraged to express concepts such as violence, agressivity, power, domination, will, freedom etc. That is indeed how they are going to define their role in the society. Women on the contrary learn to become passive human being who do not realize anything, who do not bring their contribution to the world. The feminine sex is doomed to passivity and submission “vouée à la docilité, à la résignation, elle ne peut qu'accepter dans la société une place toute faite. Elle prend l'ordre des choses comme donné”. [...]
[...] "Le Deuxième Sexe", Simone de Beauvoir (1949) - la femme est-elle complice de sa propre oppression ? Le Deuxieme Sexe, from Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) was published in 1949, at a time when women were considered as inferior to men. Beauvoir argues indeed in her book that women have historically been considered as abnormal and deviant, were refused to take in their hands their own existence, to have a job and be independent. That is why she sets out in her work a feminism existentialism (influenced in this by her friend Jean- Paul Sartre) which prescribes a moral revolution. [...]
[...] She thus explains how some biological circumstances make the woman consider herself as inferior: in the first part for instance, Beauvoir explains that girls in their childhood would prefer to have a penis, and the fact that they have to sit when they go to the toilets shows a proof of inferiority. In this aspect, women are victims of the society because of this oppression. However, Beauvoir also insists on the fact that, in certain points, women are accomplice of this situation, mostly because they do not try to free themselves. Beauvoir considers indeed that women do not feel the need to revolt against this system as they feel protected by it and by men. [...]
[...] In her marriage, the woman is also oppressed in their sexual life. Indeed Beauvoir claims in her book that women are not supposed to find pleasure in their sexual intercourse, for them it is just a duty to achieve “mais le principe du marriage est obscéne parce qu'il transforme en droits et devoirs un échange qui doit être fondé sur un état spontané”. There is also another factor that enhances the oppression women are suffering from: motherhood. Beauvoir argues indeed that being a mother is a really ungrateful task. [...]
[...] Indeed mothers, who according to Beauvoir are often jealous of their daughter as it makes them realises how empty and shallow their life is, and all the opportunies they lost. And that is why they do not want their daughters to be any different from them, and they quickly make all the girl's ambitions, dreams vanish. Furthermore, three main obstacles prevent girls from freeing themselves from this oppression: firstly the fact that most families would not be supportive of a daughter who would like to live alone, have a job and be independent. [...]
Lecture en ligneavec notre liseuse dédiée !
Contenu vérifiépar notre comité de lecture