Simone De Beauvoir

Read Complete Research Material


Simone De Beauvoir

Simone De Beauvoir


Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir was a novelist, an early feminist, and one of the leading existentialist writers of the post-World War II decades. Her lifelong companion was Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). In her writing, de Beauvoir broadened Sartre's individualistic reflections to include social concerns, and extended his rather narrow rationalistic philosophical psychology to respect the decisive influence of childhood experiences—years before he addressed these topics himself.

Influence of Culture and Time Period

Sartre and Existentialist Movement

De Beauvoir's influence through Sartre and the existentialist movement of the 1930 is clear. Though, there are biological fixed points, one's social identity is a blank slate filled in either by the Fully deliberate choices of the individual or by the choice to abdicate these powerful human responsibilities. She was immensely affected by the cultural notion that women can regain their humanity by asserting the freedom of their will, or they may accept the condition of passivity imposed upon them by their social expectations (Scanlon & Cosner, 1996). Her higher calling, quite obviously was to actively participate in the culture-making responsibilities which heretofore had been the province of men alone.

At that time, the abdication of the culture-making responsibilities most often happened by accepting the stereotypes which their surrounding culture had placed upon them. In most, traditional Western, cultures of her, this social identity of women has appeared as fixed as their physiology of reproduction. The biological realities of the reproduction organisms, in fact, served as the justification for grounding a women's identity in her status as mother. For de Beauvoir, mothering is almost always laborious and burdensome: “Mother, wife, sweetheart are the jailers.”

Social Role

The cultural idea of that time that the social roles inevitably imprison a woman at home and away from public life influences her. They undermine her (women) ability to speak as men speak to the great issues of the day, or to create in the way men create the great works of culture. De Beauvoir longed for equality, not simply of opportunity in the public arena but also of actual cultural production. She wanted to unleash the potential of women to take on roles and responsibilities that had historically been denied them. She wanted women to become like men in this regard, exerting their wills separate of any cultural prohibitions. Removed from these limitations, she was convinced that eventually the ranks of cultural geniuses would include both women and men.

Comparison to Other Philosophies

Gender Philosophies

De Beauvoir challenged innumerable theories of his predecessors. The philosophies before her based their theories on biological realities, which led eventually to cultural stereotypes about gender and for which the Nazis simply employed one cultural variant of the universal tendency to subordinate women to men. A definite philosophy was used to construct gender identities unfairly favoring men. De Beauvoir argued that the human species alone among the animal kingdom did not have a fixed identity though the facts of their anatomy were indeed fixed: “I deny that [the biological ...
Related Ads