Simone de Beauvoir : Woman As Other

Excerpt from The Second Sex (1953 (1949))




  1. Woman defined relative to man. Not vice versa. Incidental v. essential; subject v. object; Absolute v. Other. (345.8)
  2. Otherness is a fundamental category of human thought. Female was not always a part of that duality.
  3. "No group sets itself up as the One without at once setting up the Other over against itself." (346.3)
  4. Levi-Strauss — oppositions/contrasts at heart of culture. Hegel: "the subject can be posed only in being opposed."
  5. In general, other-ness is always shown to be symmetrical. You are strange to me, but I am strange to you. But not so with the sexes. Why don't women dispute male sovereignty? (346.7)
  6. Women different from other subordinate categories. (1) not a minority; (2) no memory of "before we were enslaved." (346.9)
  7. Women's situation compared to the proletariat but former not a product of historical events or development. Not something that occurred. Unlike other groups, no "we," no critical group consciousness.
  8. DJR: because each has relationships with their "other" — men.
  9. Reason: women have no concrete basis for organization. Recall Marx noting that factories become a place where workers can connect socially. Women live "dispersed among the males." Allegiances with other social strata to which they belong. No way for women to dream of crushing the oppressor. "The couple is a fundamental unity which its two halves riveted together, and the cleavage of society along the line of sex is impossible." (347.7)

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