second sex Essay

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SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR
(1908-1986)

THE SECOND SEX
(Le Deuxieme Sexe)

First published in 1949

English translation in 1953 by H.M. Parshley (New York: Knopf)
Vintage Books paperback edition 1989

Introduction and Conclusion

C.S. 204

AMERICAN UNIERSITY OF BEIRUT

1

THE SECOND SEX
(Introduction and Conclusion)

INTRODUCTION
BOOK ONE:
Part I
Part II
Part III

FACTS AND MYTHS
DESTINY
HISTORY
MYTHS

BOOK TWO:
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VI

WOMAN'S LIFE TODAY
THE FORMATIVE YEARS
SITUATION
JUSTIFICATIONS
TOWARD LIBERATION

CONCLUSION

INTRODUCTION
FOR A LONG TIME I have hesitated to write a book on woman. The subject is irritating especially to women; and it is not new. Enough ink has been
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Thomas for his part pronounced woman to be an "imperfect man", an "incidental" being. This is symbolized in Genesis where Eve is depicted as made from what Bossuet called "a supernumerary bone" of Adam.
Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being. Michelet writes: "Woman, the relative being...." And Benda is most positive in his Rapport d'Uriel: 'The body of man makes sense in itself quite apart from that of woman, whereas the latter seems wanting in significance by itself. ... Man can think of himself without woman. She cannot think of herself without man." And she is simply what man decrees; thus she is called "the sex", by which is meant that she appears essentially to the male as a sexual being. For him she is sex ? absolute sex, no less. She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute ? she is the
Other.3
The category of the Other is as primordial as consciousness itself. In the most primitive societies, in the most ancient mythologies, one finds the expression of a duality ? that of the Self and the Other. This
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The Kinsey Report [Alfred C. Kinsey and others: Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male (W.B. Saunders Co.,
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