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Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. Prof. Wen-chuan Chu Student: Mann-chun Shen 69312105 Hsiu-yu Kuo 69412101 Xin-yi Liu 69412111 Chi-fang Tseng 69412113 Li-hao You 69512111 March 8, 2007.

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simone de beauvoir s the second sex

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex

Prof. Wen-chuan Chu

Student: Mann-chun Shen 69312105

Hsiu-yu Kuo 69412101

Xin-yi Liu 69412111

Chi-fang Tseng 69412113

Li-hao You 69512111

March 8, 2007


Chapter III

The Point of View of Historical Materialism

I. Woman could not be considered simply as a sexual organism, for among the biological traits, only those have importance that take on concrete value in action. Woman’s awareness of herself is not defined exclusively by her sexuality: it reflects a situation that depends upon the economic organization of society. (53)

II. Woman’s housework sank into insignificance in comparison with man’s productive labor—the latter was everything, the former a trifling auxiliary. The maternal authority gave place to paternal authority, property being inherited from father to son and no longer from woman to her clan. Woman is subjugated. (54)
III. The discovery of bronze enabled man, in the experience of hard and productive labor, to discover himself as creator and to dominate nature. (56)

IV. If the human consciousness had not included the original category of the Other and an original aspiration to dominate the Other, the invention of the bronze tool could not have caused the oppression of woman. (58)

V. She is for man a sexual partner, a reproducer, an erotic object—an Other through whom he seeks himself. (59)
chapter iv the nomads
Chapter IV The Nomads

I. Man’s superior strength must have been of tremendous importance in the age of the club and the wild beast. In any case, however strong the women were, the bondage of reproduction was a terrible handicap in the struggle against a hostile world. Pregnancy, childbirth, and menstruation reduced their capacity for work and made them at times wholly dependent upon the men for protection and food. (62)

II. Whereas in serving the species, the human male also remodels the face of the earth, he creates new instruments, he invents, he shapes the future. (64)

III. Whereas woman is basically an existent who gives Life and does no risk her life; between her and the male there has been no combat. (64, italics original)

chapter v early tillers of the soil
Chapter V Early Tillers of the Soil

I. In setting down on a certain territory, men established ownership of it, and property appeared in a collectivized form. This property required that its possessors provide a posterity and maternity became a sacred function. (66)

II. To say that woman was the Other is to say that there did not exist between the sexes a reciprocal relation: Earth, Mother, Goddess—she was no fellow creature in man’s eyes; it was beyond the human realm that her power was affirmed, and she was therefore outside of the realm. Society has always been male; political power has always been in the hands of men. (70, italics original)
III. It is because she did not share his way of working and thinking, because she remained in bondage to life’s mysterious processes, that the male did not recognize in her a being like himself. Since he did no accept her, since she seemed in his eyes to have the aspect of the other, man could not be otherwise than her oppressor. (78, italics original)
chapter vi patriarchal times and classical antiquity
Chapter VI Patriarchal Times and Classical Antiquity

I. He buys her as one buys a farm animal or a slave; he imposes his domestic divinities upon her; and the children born to her belong to the husband’s family. Because she owns nothing, woman does not enjoy the dignity of being a person; she herself forms a part of the patrimony of a man: first of her father, then of her husband. (82)

II. Her value compared to the male’s is like the slave’s compared with the free man’s. (83)

chapter vii through the middle ages to eighteenth century france
Chapter VII Through the Middle Ages to Eighteenth-century France

I. Tertullian writes: “Woman, you are the devil’s doorway. It is your fault that the Son of God had to die; you should always go in mourning and in rags.” (98)

II. Woman’s legal status remained almost unchanged from the beginning of the fifteenth century to the nineteenth, but in the privileged classes her actual situation did improve. (105)

III. Mrs. Aphra Behn earned her living by her pen like a man. (106)

IV. Virginia Woolf remarks, women writers have always aroused hostility. (107)

chapter viii since the french revolution the job and the vote
Chapter VIIISince the French Revolution: The Job and the Vote

I. It was on the economic, not on the

sexual plane that she suffered oppression. (109)

II. Balzac: “The destiny of woman and her sole glory are to make beat the hearts of men . . . She is a chattel and properly speaking only a subsidiary to man.”(111)

III. It is through labor that woman has conquered her dignity as a human being.


IV. The evolution of woman’s condition is to be explained by two factors: sharing in productive labor and being freed from slavery to reproduction. (121)


Chapter IX

Dreams, Fears, Idols

I. History has shown that men have kept all concrete powers; woman has been kept in a state of dependence; men’s codes of law have been set up against her; and thus she has been definitively established as the Other. (139)

II. Once the subject seeks to assert himself, the Other limits and denies him, is none the less a necessity to him. (139)

III. He endeavors to mold her into his desire. (139)

IV. Either she appears as an impersonal opposition, she is an obstacle and remains a stranger; or she submits to man’s will and permits assimilation, so that he can possess her through consuming her—that is, through destroying her.(139)

V. Each aspires to be a sovereign subject. Each fulfills himself by reducing the other to slavery. But the slave, though he fears, senses himself as the essential; and, by dialectical inversion, it is the master who seems to be inessential. (140)

VI. Each individual freely recognizes the other, each regarding himself and the other as object and as subject in reciprocal manner. (140)

VII. The dream incarnated is woman; she is the wished-for intermediary between nature, and the fellow being who is closely identical. She is a conscious being and can be possessed by the flesh.(140-141)

VIII. Eve was not fashioned at the same time as the man; She was taken from the flank of the first male. She was destined by Him for man. (141)

IX. The other, being regarded as the object in the eyes of the subject, is regarded as en soi; therefore as a being. (142)

X. Man seeks in woman the Other as Nature and as his fellow being. She is the earth, and man the seed; She is Water and he is Fire. (144)

XI. Menstrual blood represents the essence of femininity.(150)

XII. The virgin seems to represent the most consummate form of the feminine mystery. She is the most disturbing and fascinating aspect.(152)

XIII. Costumes and styles are often devoted to cutting off the feminine body from any possible transcendence. (158)

A. The costumes are intended less to accentuate the curves of the feminine body than to augment its incapacity. (158)

B. In woman dressed and adorned, nature is present but under restraint, by human will remolded nearer to man’s desire. (159)

XIV. The threadbare vocabulary of the serial novels describing woman as a sorceress, an enchantress, fascinating and casting a spell over man, reflects the most ancient and universal of myths. Woman is dedicated to magic.

A. In the society where man worships these mysteries, woman is associated with religion and venerated as priestess.

B. When man struggles to make society triumph over nature, reason over life, and the will over the inert, then woman is regarded as a sorceress. (164)

XV. It is Christianity which invests woman anew with frightening prestige. In Christianity, original sin makes of the body the enemy of the soul; all ties of the flesh seem evil. Woman remains always the Other and the flesh that is for the Christian the hostile Other is precisely woman. (167)

XVI. Deprived of her magic weapons by the marriage rites and subordinated economically and socially to her husband, the “good wife” is man’s most precious treasure. [. . .] Through her he displays his power. (175)

XVII. Woman flatters not only man’s social vanity; she is the source of a more intimate pride. He is delighted with his domination of her. (176)

XVIII. Since the appearance of Christianity the figure of woman has obviously been spiritualized to a considerable extent. [. . .] Woman incarnates at once their material core and their mystic mana. (177-78)

XIX. The ideal of the average Western man is a woman who freely accepts his domination, who does not accepts his ideas without discussion, but who yields to his arguments, who resists him intelligently and ends by being convinced. (184)

XX. Woman has often been compared to water because she is the mirror in which the male, Narcissus-like, contemplates himself. (185)

A. He must project himself into an object in order to reach himself. [. . .] Woman is the Other in whom the subject transcends himself without being limited.

B. She is so necessary to man’s happiness and to his triumph that it can be said that if she did not exist, men would have invented her. (186)

XXI. Many neuroses in particular have their source in a madness for the forbidden that can appear only if taboos have been previously established. (195)

example: Oedipus complex—it is an inner conflict within the subject itself.

the infant for the mother’s breast→ the rejection by weaning→ realize himself as a subject→ shameful and avoid thinking of her body→ wish her to be beyond all possession→ transfigure her and assimilate her to the pure image of sacred womanhood. (195-96)

chapter x the myth of woman in five authors
Chapter X The Myth of Woman in Five Authors

I. Montherlant

A. He holds that only epochs marked by weakness have exalted the Eternal Feminine and that the hero should rise in revolt against the Magna Mater. He undertakes to dethrone her. Woman-she is night, disorder, immanence.

B. It is first of all the mother who is the great enemy. (199)

C. Except for women athletes, women are incomplete beings, doomed to slavery, soft and lacking in muscle, they have no gasp on the world; so they work hard to annex a lover or a husband. (200-01)

D. The ideal woman is perfectly stupid and perfectly submissive; she is always ready to accept the male and never makes any demands upon him. (203)

E. Inferior, pitiful—he wishes woman to be contemptible. [. . .] It is not because they are contemptible that he disdains women, it is because he would disdain them that they seem to him so abject. (207-08)

II. Lawrence passionately rejects the antithesis: sex-brain; he has a cosmic optimism that is radically opposed to the pessimism of Schopenhauer; the will-to-live expressed in the phallus is joy, and herein should be the source of thought and action unless these are to be respectively empty concept and sterile mechanism. (214)
III. each member of the couple is a complete being, perfectly polarized; when one feels assured in his virility, the other in her femininity, “each acknowledges the perfection of the polarized sex circuit”(215)
IV. When Ursula and Birkin finally found each other, they gave each other reciprocally that stellar equilibrium which alone can be called liberty. “She was for him what he was for her, the immemorial magnificence of the other reality, mystic and palpable.”(215)
V. The lovers treat each other as instruments, engendering hate: so it is with Lady Chatterley and Michaelis; they remain shut up in their subjectivity; they can experience a fever such as alcohol or opium gives, but it is without object: they fail each to discover the reality of the other; they gain access to nothing. (216)
VI. Both ought to give themselves body and soul. If this gift were made, they would remain forever faithful. (218)
VII. Lawrence believes passionately in the supremacy of the male. The very expression “phallic marriage,” the equivalence he sets up between “sexual” and “phallic,” constitute sufficient proof. Of the two blood streams that are mysteriously married, the phallic current is favored. “The phallus serves as a means of union between two rivers; it conjoins the two different rhythms into a single flow.” (218)
VIII. Thought and action have their roots in the phallus; lacking the phallus, woman has no rights in either the one or the other: she can play a man’s role, and even brilliantly, but it is just a game, lacking serious verity. “Woman is really polarized downwards towards the center of the earth. Her deep positivity is in the downward flow, the moon-pull. And man is polarized upwards, toward the sun and the day’s activity. (219)
IX. Lawrence is far from execrating maternity: quite the contrary. He is glad to be flesh, he willingly accepts his birth, he is fond of his mother; mothers appear in his words as splendid examples of true femininity; they are pure renunciation, absolute generosity, all their living warmth is devoted to their children: they gladly accept their becoming men, they are proud of it. (220)
X. Lawrence detests modern women, creatures of celluloid and rubber laying claim to a consciousness. When woman has become sexually conscious of herself, “there she is functioning away from her own head and her own consciousness of herself and her own automatic self-will.” He forbids her to have an independent sensuality; she is made to give herself, not to take. (220)
XI. On the human plane she thus appears to draw her grandeur from her very subordination. But in the eyes of God she is a perfectly autonomous person. The fact that for man existence is transcended while for woman it simply continues establishes a difference between them only on earth. (229)
XII. Man gives his activity, woman her person. To sanctify this ranking in the name of the divine will is not at all to modify it, but on the contrary to intend its eternal fixation. (231)
XIII. And here woman is not distinguished from poetry. This is why she is the indispensable mediatress without whom all the earth is voiceless: “ She is wont, is nature, to be lighted up and to be darkened, to render me service or disservice, only in accordance with the rising and the sinking for me of the flames in a hearth which is love, the only love, that of one being. (235)
XIV. A great many women are doomed to idleness, when there is no happiness apart from work. This state of affairs makes Stendhal indignant, and he sees in it the source of all the faults for which women are reproached. They are not angels, nor demons, nor sphinxes: merely human beings reduced to semislavery by the imbecile ways of society. (239)
XV. Woman, however, as the other still plays a role to the extent that, if only to transcend himself, each man still needs to learn more fully what he is. (252)