Simone de Beauvoir: Feminism and Existentialism
Simone de Beauvoir talks about women through the eyes of an existentialist in her book The Second Sex. Specifically, de Beauvoir’s views on how woman is “man’s dependent” shows the Subject and the Other relationship, a solution she gives to abolishing the oppression of women is that we need to abandon the idea that women are born feminine, second, weaker and not made, and the responsibility that she puts on herself and women for accepting the roles given to them are all very existentialist ideas.
Subjectivity as de Beauvoir uses it is created out of defining, or created roles for the people around you; it is a self given power. A man must be the ego, the subject, in order to do this and a woman must be the Other in order to accept this. While talking about existentialism in class we learned that people interact with each other by constantly switching from the subject to the object; I am at a stop light in my car looking at the people next to me, I am the subject until they look back at me, into my world, making judgments and what have you, and then I am the object, I am second, or the Other. I think the difference between how de Beauvoir uses it, is that women do not change from being the Other, or the second sex. In class we discussed that women who attempt to abandon their gender roles by becoming more like men, are simply mimicking them (in the workforce for example). But the act of trying to be something you are not promotes the idea that you are different, which ultimately says that you are not what you are trying to be. Women who have the brawn to be able to do everything men can do physically are seen as butch; masculine women. Women who are harsh bosses in the business world, who may have all the traits of a good male boss (hardiness, leadership, gall) are seen the same way; women trying to be men. It is a self defeating process. The way she uses the terms masculinity and femininity also relate to...
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