Simone de Beauvoir was a Gallic experiential phenomenologist and the expansive doll of modern feminism. Beauvoir authored some two-dozen books, legion articles and one drama, but she is most known for Le Deuxieme Sexe, published in 1949[ 1 ]and translated into English in 1952.

The one-thousand page book -which hit American bookstores the same twelvemonth the 2nd Kinsey Report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, was released-[ 2 ]became a best marketer though it was non without its critics. The Kinsey Reports clinically discussed the antecedently forbidden subject of human gender detailing the consequences of study interviews which asked topics personal history about onanism, climax, sexual intercourse and sexual orientation. Published before the the sexual revolution in the 1970s, the groundbreaking Kinsey Reports were viewed as “ sex manuals ” from college campuses to suburban subdivisions.

On the encouragement of his married woman, American publishing house Alfred A. Knoff[ 3 ]published Beauvoir ‘s book for an American audience expecting that it would be received in the same vena by the academic and upwardly-mobile categories. The book was published Thursday, February 23, 1953. Three hebdomads later it appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers List, ranking 15th among non-fiction books. Other books on the NYT list included Annapurna, a book about a group of French mountain climbers breasting a 26,000 pes extremum in the Himalayans ; Norman Vincent Peale ‘s Power of Positive Thinking, Edward Murrow ‘s This I Believe, Carl Sandburg ‘s autobiography, Always the Young Strangers ; two spiritualty books, A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall and Thomas Merton ‘s The Sign of Jonas ; two life, one about Abraham Lincoln and one about his married woman, Mary Lincoln ; and The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Edition. The undermentioned hebdomad, The Second Sex had moved to figure nine, and it remained on the best-seller list for four more hebdomads.

Critics of both the Gallic editions and English interlingual rendition were non rather certain what to do of the controversial book which argued against the dominant paradigm: the domination of males over females in society. To do her instance opposing the essentialist position that subordinates adult females to work forces, Beauvoir began by analyzing the biological science of work forces and adult females and, in making so, left nil unexposed from prenuptial sex, to eroticism, to sapphism, to deliver control, and to abortion. Using biological science as a rhetorical device, The Second Sex is a full frontal onslaught on an deep-rooted system that begins with a blemished premiss: work forces are superior because they are work forces, therefore adult females are inferior due, merely, to their state of affairs of non being work forces.

One referee called The Second Sex “ frantically reasonable and brightly confused ” ( Hardwick, 321 ) . Archeologist Margaret Mead said the book gave “ penetration into the psychological science of one adult female whose society has convinced her that it is awful to be born a adult female ” ( 31 ) . Margaret Sanger, quoted in a reappraisal looking in The New Yorker, praised, “ It has taken me some clip to read this book, but I have eventually succeeded. It is truly an encyclopaedia of the development of adult female ” ( Hellman, 26 ) . The Catholic Church placed The Second Sex on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.[ 4 ]

After publication in France and the U.S. , The Second Sex was overlooked by bookmans for about 20 old ages until the second-wave of feminism in the seventiess. As the book turned 30, it began having serious attending by women’s rightists ( Pilardi, 1995, 30 ) and has since been elevated to the position of a authoritative. The book has now undergone a new much-anticipated English interlingual rendition on its 60th day of remembrance. The U.K edition was released in the autumn of 2009 and the American edition will be released following hebdomad.


Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris in 1908 to a in-between category household that had inherited money from her female parent ‘s household. The household suffered fiscal troubles as a consequence of World War I which made it impossible for them to piece a proper dowery for Beauvoir to pull an acceptable suer. The alternate class was to prosecute an academic calling which led her to the Sorbonne where she studied doctrine. In 1929, she completed the doctrine agregation test, ironically completing 2nd to Jean Paul-Sartre[ 5 ]who became her life spouse. Their coevalss included Paul Nizan, Jean Hyppolite, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Alberty Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Rene Maheu who nicknamed her “ Castor, ” the Gallic word for beaver because of her diligence and difficult work.

Beauvoir went on to learn in Marseilles and so Rouen. Recognized for her women’s rightist and anti-war positions, she was fired from her place when France was occupied by the Nazi ‘s. She secured another learning place but was once more discharged due to ailments that she had “ corrupted ” a pupil. She used the dismissal as an chance to purse her passion to compose. Get downing in 1943 her first published book, L’Invitee ( She Came to Stay ) , fictionalized her love trigon with Sartre and another adult female. Her 2nd published book, Le Sang des Autres ( The Blood of Others ) , was an experiential work, followed by Pyrrhus et Cineas, a philosophical essay which explores the ground for being and the relationship we have to one another. Between 1943 and 1946 she wrote Tous Les Hommes sont Mortels ( All Men are Mortal ) , and a drama, Les Bouches Inutiles ( Who Shall Die? ) . Beauvoir believed her life naming was to be a author.

Throughout her life she was viewed by many as a philosophical author known non because of her ain work but because of her personal relationship to Jean-Paul Sartre. Although Sartre had developed the stature of a philosophical giant of the experiential school, scholarship over the past 30 old ages has helped to uncover Beauvoir ‘s independent philosophical. Beauvoir and Sartre surely influenced each other, but by no agency was Beauvoir a Sartre ringer despite life in his public shadow.

Beauvoir and Sartre ‘s unfastened relationship, which involved both sapphic and heterosexual love personal businesss for Beauvoir, were the grist of a great trade of mid-twentieth century dad commentary that frequently eclipsed serious literary unfavorable judgment of her work.

Claiming to non be political, Beauvoir aligned herself with Marxist and dovish political relations. Her Hagiographas were political and philosophical commentary about her lived experience.

Among the many avant-guard things she did in her life, Beauvoir advocated for legal abortion by non merely subscribing but composing the text[ 6 ]of the “ le manifeste des 343 ” which came to be known as “ the Manifesto of the 343 slatterns ” and was signed by actress Catherine Deneuve and ecofeminist Francoise d’Eaubonne, among others. The declaration which petitioned for entree to deliver control and legal abortion was published in Le Nouvel Observateur April 5, 1971.

The Other: Woman or The Significant Other

Beauvoir ‘s worldview was deeply affected by World War II and her close association with Sartre and his interior circle. She had rejected her Catholic and bourgeois household background and embraced existential philosophy and phenomenology. Integrating the theories of Marx ( struggle theory ) , Hegel ( the double star of maestro and slave ) , and Levi-Straus ( structural linguistics ) Beauvoir created a intercrossed doctrine of “ experiential feminism ” ( Pilardi, 1999, 28 ) .

Although she did non see herself a philosopher, sing that a philosopher was “ person who has built a great system ” ( Simons and Benjamin 1979, 338 ) she “ pioneered a literary-philosophical method ” in her Hagiographas ( Simons, 2004 ) .

When Beauvoir began The Second Sex her intent was to compose an autobiography or “ a personal philosophical survey. ” ( Bair, 380 ) . Rather than to get down with herself, she began with the inquiry “ what is adult female? ” She seeks to reply this inquiry by analysing the state of affairs of adult females biologically, scientifically, anthropologically, culturally, and historically.

Her first reply is that:

“ adult female is a uterus, an ovary ; she is a female – this word is sufficient to specify her. In the oral cavity of a adult male the epithet female has the sound of an abuse, yet he is non ashamed of his carnal nature ; on the contrary, he is proud of person says of him: “ He is male. ” The term “ female ” is derogative non because it emphasizes adult female ‘s animal nature, but because it imprisons her in her sexa╦ć┬Žnevertheless he wishes to happen in biological science a justification for this sentiment. The word female conveying up in his head a saraband of imagination – a dramatis personae, unit of ammunition egg cell engulfs, and castrates the nimble sperm cell ; the monstrous and conceited white ant queen regulations over the enslaved males ; the female praying mantid and the spider, satiated with love, crush and devour their spouses ; the bitch in heat tallies through the back streets, draging behind her a aftermath of perverse olfactory properties ; the she-monkey nowadayss her posterior immodestly and so steals away with hypocritical flirt ; and the most brilliant wild animals -tigress, the lioness, the panther-bed down slavishly under the imperial embracing of the male. Females, sulky, eager, disingenuous, stupid, indurate, lubricious, fierce, abased – adult male undertakings them all at one time upon adult female. And the fact is that she is female ” ( Beauvoir, 1953, 3-4 ) .

After seting herself and her reader through an thorough analysis, Beauvoir ‘s concluding reply: adult female is “ Other. ” Whereas adult male is primary, adult female is secondary. Man is superior, adult female is inferior. Man is Essential ; adult female in non-essential. Woman is Other than adult male. Man is Self ; adult female is Other.

Although adult females experience biological maps that are non experienced by work forces, such as gestation and menstruations, these maps are non sufficient to warrant that adult females suffer a position secondary to work forces.

Beauvoir asks how did this semen to be?

In Chapter XI, Myth and Reality, Beauvoir examines the “ Eternal Feminine, the schizophrenic myth of adult female as Muse, female parent, goddess, virgin, every bit good as praying mantid, mandrake and demon all wrapped into one. These myths project onto adult females incongruous and equivocal books while denying adult females ‘s reliable worlds. Women become the whipping boy for all that is incorrect with human being, peculiarly hurting, agony and decease because if non for childbearing – a map which entirely belongs to adult females – adult male would non confront the panic and isolation of decease.

The development of adult females, harmonizing to Beauvoir, developed as a societal system exhaustively woven into political relations, faith, civil Torahs that was propped up through literary and cultural myth in order to warrant and perpetuate male laterality.

Work forces have projected the incomprehensible feminine “ enigma ” onto adult females which allows him to see adult female as “ outside himself ” ( Beauvoir, 256 ) . Woman as “ foreigner ” or “ alien ” ( Beauvoir, 257 ) is most surely Other -not human- and therefore it is justifiable to enslave or kill them ( Beauvoir, 261 ) .

In the procedure, adult females participate in their ain subjection and have a unusual, equivocal relationship with their subjugation in big portion because they lack the resources to claim their independency and because adult females are “ frequently really good pleased with her function as the Other. ” ( Beauvoir, 1952, xxvii ) . For adult female to go free from subjection and waies allowed to them ( married woman, female parent, concubine, chamber amah ) by men- the “ immanency ” – she must separately exceed the dominant paradigm and claim her liberty and independency.

Beauvoir uses the organic structure instead than “ being ” as the object of her experiential phenomenological survey. She argues against the doctrine that being born a adult females is an accident while admiting la difference that exists between the sexes. This difference is a all right line, but a difference, as Beauvoir inside informations, which does non warrant subordination.

Beauvoir provided a new linguistic communication for discoursing and a position for understanding the relationship of work forces and adult females. The most celebrated line from The Second Sex is the opening sentence of Book Two, “ One is non born but becomes a adult female ” ( Beauvoir, 267 ) . This is the bosom of Beauvoir ‘s differentiation between sex and gender, between being female and being feminine. Feminine is a societal building that is non built-in or natural, but imposed.

Although she has been criticized for a false universalism in assuming to using her apprehension on adult females everyplace, her review of patriarchate based upon biological science and societal myths has been well-received by women’s rightists as radical, peculiarly over the last 30 old ages. For Beauvoir, the terminal end is acknowledgment of equality between the sexes.