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Toril Moi reviews ‘The Second Sex’ by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier · LRB 11 February 2010
In The Second Sex Beauvoir formulates three principles and applies them to women’s situation in the world. First is her foundational insight that man ‘is the Subject, he is the Absolute: she is the Other.’ Man incarnates humanity; woman, by virtue of being female, deviates from the human norm. The consequence is that women constantly experience a painful conflict between their humanity and their femininity.

The next principle is that freedom, not happiness, must be used as the measuring stick to assess the situation of women. Beauvoir assumes that woman, like man, is a free consciousness. In so far as the status of Other is imposed on her, her situation is unjust and oppressive. But with freedom comes responsibility: when women consent to their own oppression and help to oppress other women, they are to be blamed. The epigraph to the second volume is ‘Half victims, half accomplices, like everyone else’, a line from Sartre’s 1948 play, Dirty Hands. But Beauvoir’s true yardstick is concrete freedom: institutions and practices are to be judged ‘from the point of view of the concrete opportunities they offer the individual’. Abstract equality (the right to vote, for example) is not enough: to turn freedom into reality, women must also have the health, education and money they need to make use of their rights.

Finally, there is the insight that women are not born but made, that every society has constructed a vast material, cultural and ideological apparatus dedicated to the fabrication of femininity. Throughout The Second Sex Beauvoir attacks ‘femininity’ in the sense of patriarchal or normative femininity. To her, a ‘feminine’ woman is one who accepts herself as Other; ‘femininity’ is the badge of the unfree. For women to be free, ‘femininity’ must disappear. Taken together, Beauvoir’s major insights are the foundation of modern feminism. Whether they acknowledge it or not, all contemporary feminists build on Beauvoir’s achievement.
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3 hours ago by sharon_howard
sister-hood interview with Mona Eltahawy. Feminist author and public speaker. - YouTube
[2:00] "For some reason — I don't know who did this because there's no women's and gender studies program in that university to this day — some renegade librarian or professor had put all these feminist journals on a bookshelf that I discovered. And they had all these feminists from my heritage, from the Middle East, from Muslim backgrounds, and also other feminists from different backgrounds. And I remember when I first discovered the word 'feminism' and discovered their writing. [It] terrified me. It terrified me. I would just put these books down and these journals down and just walk away because I was really scared because I understood that the more I got into that, the more it would just unravel everything. And I use that experience now to tell people, "when something really scares you, it's an indication that it's something you really need because it's going to really unsettle all of the things that you need to shake up in you life." Feminism saved my life and feminism saved my mind. And thanks to Saudi Arabia, ironically enough, I became the woman I am today."
monaeltahawy  feminism  change  books  2018  unlearning  learning  patriarchy  librarians  libraries 
14 hours ago by robertogreco
Twitter
It was fascinating to see women, young and old, posing by this statue
feminism  from twitter
2 days ago by kcarruthers

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