This review was written by Eugene Kernes
Genre = Sociology
A detailed account of the women’s identity. Women are usually considered in relation to men, hence the second sex. She is the object while he is the subject. Women are not a minority persecuted by a majority. The lack of solidarity comes from the women’s identity in other function such as class and race. No single factor conspires against her as she is disadvantaged in economic, political, and legal circumstance. The outcomes of this condition are given a plethora of self-justifications. Women are seen to lack in the aims of men because of their values, but if the values change, so do the aims that create the outcomes.
The historic destiny of women was marriage and children. They did not control their situations as they were normally in a fragile state during pregnancy. With women’s control over their own bodies, over their reproductive cycles is the catalyst for the rise of women. It is not only biology which hindered women, but the stories told about them. In media and myths, women are normally represented as weaker, the object desired, not as the active agent. Correcting the way women are perceived, shapes how women are included in the society.
The book is important in its topic and grand scope, but the way in which it is written makes it difficult to engage with. Each chapter has many fiction and non-fiction quotes which Simone de Beauvoir engages with but as they are often out of context make the explanations to their relevance sometimes tenuous. Although the experience and examples are practical, the way in which it is written makes them appear abstract. Each chapter has a duality in trying to create a representative figure for women, but also show diversity. Transitions between different important lessons are poor, which make it so much harder to read. If this book would be edited in the future, it would be more readable to provide more breaks in between the lessons and a bit more explanations before moving on to the next example.
This is not a men hating book. Simone de Beauvoir puts men and women in perspective of their interaction with society. Biology, psychology, myths are expressed in how women are perceived and the way women actually are. The life of women throughout the ages and in different situation provides a glimmer into how society is shaped by women and how women shape society. Women have been gaining rights earlier than this book, and will continue to do so until women can be independent, and not be vassals of men. Connections based on independent individuals have more merit and value than historic alternatives of dominance.
Pages to read: 890
1st Edition: 1949
Ratings out of 5: