Monday, August 17, 2009

Simone de Beauvoir

Thus we must view the facts of biology in the light of an ontological, economic, social, and psychological context. The enslavement of the female to the species and the limitations of her various powers are extremely important facts; the body of woman is one of the essential elements in her situation in the world. But that body is not enough to define her as woman; there is no true living reality except as manifested by the conscious individual through activities and in the bosom of a society. Biology is not enough to give an answer to the question that is before us: why is woman the Other? Our task is to discover how the nature of woman has been affected throughout the course of history; we are concerned to find out what humanity has made of the human female. --The Second Sex
Simone de Beauvoir, feminist or not feminist?
It was not until the 1970s that Simone de Beauvoir publicly defined herself as a feminist. In an interview with Alice Schwarzer in 1972, she explains what has lead her to become 'une militante féministe'. Before 1970, according to Beauvoir, feminism was reformist and legalist, whereas the new feminism is radical. By 1972, she has adopted the slogan of Italian feminists: 'Pas de révolution sans émancipation de la femme, pas d'émancipation de la femme sans révolution' (Schwarzer 1984, 47).
For more musing on this question follow the link. Or listen to de Beauvoir below.

1 comment:

VanessaP said...

It may not be accurate or possible to create a reflexive adjective in this sense. She was a constituating principle (pal)of a radical ontological theory of gender more elaborated upon by others, while at the same time working well within a set (conservative) philosophic discursive tradition, even as she constituted and elaborated upon a radical general theory of ontology/epistemology. Like trying to determine whether Matisse was a modernist or a painter.