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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. View all 33 comments. Dec 29, Jojo Richardson rated it it was amazing.
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". 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.
Cultural Anthropology/Ritual and Religion - Wikibooks, open books for an open world
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.
Shelves: science-and-medicine , 20th-centurylit-early , cultural-studies-and-other , big-effing-books , hear-me-roar-and-gender.
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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 book, The Second Sex. 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 , 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. Beauvoir was much too classy to write "Not my problem. 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. View all 10 comments.
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Nov 09, Ellen rated it it was ok Shelves: feminism , theory. And for women—often viewed in more bodily terms than men—nothing foregrounds a woman's body more than pregnancy. 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.
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. There are no coffee breaks; no days off in which you regain your normal shape and self, and can return refreshed to your labors.
The condition and you are identical: you are no longer a person, but a pregnancy. 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. Though The Second Sex ostensibly is presented as an objective critique there is no attempt at objectivity here.
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. In evidence for this conclusion, Beauvoir preemptively cites herself, referring the reader to an earlier point in her own text!
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. 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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And thinking, which is accepting this discomfort, is also, to put it bluntly, an attempt to have done with it. As there is no end, this hope is illusory. 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.
How to Find That Book You've Spent Years Looking For
View all 22 comments. Apr 30, Giss Golabetoon rated it it was amazing. This woman started Feminism. View all 6 comments. 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. 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 defe 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.
Aristotle defines a Woman in terms of a certain lack of qualities and therefore as defective. Woman is defined relative to Man.