Thursday, April 8, 2010

On Feminism, Women, And Phenomenology

It is only in a human perspective that we can compare the female and the male of the human species. But man is defined as a being who is not fixed, who makes himself what he is. As Merleau-Ponty very justly puts it, man is not a natural species: he is a historical idea. Woman is not a completed reality, but rather a becoming, and it is in her becoming that she should be compared with man; that is to say, her possibilities should be defined.

In the upper classes women are eager accomplices of their masters because they stand to profit from the benefits provided. We have seen that the women of the upper middle classes and the aristocracy have always defended their class interests even more obstinately than have their husbands, not hesitating radically to sacrifice their independence as human beings. They repress all thought, all critical judgment, all spontaneous impulses; they parrot accepted opinions, they confuse with the ideal whatever the masculine code imposes on them; all genuineness is dead in the hearts and even in their faces.
- Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. and ed. H.M. Parshley (London: Picador, 1988).

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