The Second Sex

Newly translated and unabridged in English for the second time, Simone de Beauvoir ’ s masterwork is a powerful stud 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.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
Original Title of the Book
Le deuxième sexe: I. Les faits et les mythes, II. L'expérience vécue
Publication Date
Published December 17th 1989 by Vintage (first published 1949

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As such, it eschews neat and tidy ideological divisions in its essence, and tend 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 rivetin and possibly unanswerable questions brought up by the tensions and dualities that seem intrinsic to the human condition, and that, indee, the ideologue in his/her search for the perfectly defined political dogma will always and of necessity gloss over.

She shows how, in the attemp 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 end to conceive this process in purely subjectivist terms, in short, in terms of looking into material accessible only to the individual consciousness.

In ontrast, I suspect she would sympathize with Mann 's insight in The Magic Mountain: “ man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but lso, 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.

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.

Nonetheles, to appreciate 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 erely a piece of her idiosyncratic subjective biographical trajectory, but is, in 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.

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.

Thi young oman, 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 contex to her capacity to fulfil his need for meaning.

Such can nly 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.

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 onl just a locus for meaning-making, but, even more urgently for her survival and flourishing in the world, is an object-for-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 thus finds herself in a rather impossible position, internalizing a tradition of self-alienating representations made of her, which supposedly exhaust her nature, while no being radically alien to this tradition in the innermost truth of her experience, for which she has inherited few clear words that she an make entirely her own, few artistically embodied meanings, and lmost 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.

he 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 ma 's coming-to-consciousness.

Wittgenstein seems to have got it better than de Beauvoir: “ The philosophical I is not he 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 notio of human nature – a woman.

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.

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.

( ...) 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.

A lot of the wor of " woman " and " man, " she ays, 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.

Her unique historico-philosophical approach to self-knowledge encourages us to appreciate our lives by placing our most intimate personal experience in the terminolog of the broadest perspective attainable at our historic moment.

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My life has led me to develop a love for thought, a love heavily dependent on the notio of reality and my personal view of such, a ove that has been, is, and will continue to grow through heavy doses of words both spoken and printed.

With hat, 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.

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.

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.

Essentially, 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 can not 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 ense of fear.

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.

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 an would consent to be th ma, 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 could not satisfy the reciprocal demands these attitudes imply.

On the day when it migh be difficul for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to kil 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 peri.

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.

implicatio 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.

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 chooses to kee them from this independent stranger who lusts after them.Man encourages these allurements by demanding to be lured: afterwards he is nnoyed and reproachful.

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 an, but up to this century was more or less excluded from social life.

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 believed that men oppress women, the husband is indignant; he eels that he is the one who is oppressed—and he is; but the fact is that it is the masculine code, it is he 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.

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As 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 often felt like it " was n't the right time " to read it.What does that necessaril mean? As someone living as " the second sex " myself, there is no excuse for this.

We read this as a group here on GR, and I 'm tempted 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 days back and what was surprising to me about hat book was that it read so easily and smoothly.

Beauvoir insists her readers give a bit of themselves in order to writ tha ook, I hink.

She covers a lot of ground in this memoi, ore 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, hilosophy, religion, history, you name it.

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 eel like a colossal failure.The information here may seem dated to a reader today.

Beauvoir was much too classy to write " Not my problem. " I do recommend th ook to, well, someon who can manage to get through it.

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in he ext 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 xplain the why and the how and the when of why women are the way they are, who is doing this to us, why has n'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.

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It ’ s nteresting to consider what Simone de Beauvoir, dubbed the " fathe " of modern feminism, thought about motherhood itself.

When I sked her why, she stated 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.

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).

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.

( 69) With pregnancy, you are “ no longer th person, ” you are no longer “ you. ” Logically, the ext question is, “ Will you still be you when you become a mother? ” For Simone de Beauvoir the answer ould be “ No ”: pregnancy and motherhood rob a woman of her identity and her intellect.

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.

( emphasis added, 495) In this theorization, a oman not only loses her former identity in the metho of pregnancy, but actually loses her mind, as Beauvoir illustrates when she escribes the pregnant woman in less than human terms:.

In what often amounts to an emotional tirade, Beauvoir relentlessly focuses on the pregnant woman ’ s body, equating it with n “ animal ” or “ 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 imagination and identity she sees occurring with maternity.

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.

Thought, Lyotard posits, attempts to create endings, to once and for all silence the discomfort of the unthought: The unthought hurts.

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This nfortunately was the short version of Simone de Beauvoir 's 'The Second Sex' as I made anothe mistake when ordering ( because of the price), so tha is only extracts from the full version which hopefully will read at nother time.

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One of Beauvoir 's best-known books, The Second Sex is often recognize as a major work of feminist philosophy and the starting point of second-wave feminism.تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 2003 میلادیعنوان: جنس دوم، تجربه عینی؛ نویسنده: سیمون دوبوار؛ مترجم: قاسم صنعوی؛ تهران، توس، چاپ پنجم 1382؛ در 728 ص؛ شابک: 9643155625؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی- سده 20 مدر این شک ندارم که بانو « سیمون » استعداد شگفت انگیزی دارند، بررسیها و یافته هایش برایم جالب بود، جایی نخوانده بودم، ستم دیدگان را از یاد نبرده، باور دارد، 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 کرده همگان را وادارد، که بر سرنوشت خویش پیروز شوند.

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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 inadequac of firmness when I voice out my opinions, the essence 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.

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 hypothesi 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 void the postmodernist doctrine of the difference feminism that allots innate and intrinsic qualities to the feminine gender, to create a collective front that will guarantee new models of egalitarian coexistence for women, inside and outside the public and private spheres.

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