Why Simone de Beauvoir didn’t believe in being ‘a strong woman’


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Whereas boys were brought up to believe that they could value their own independence and creativity and have flourishing personal relationships, on Beauvoir’s analysis, a woman’s education too often led her to feel ‘torn’ between choosing freedom and choosing love. ‘Woman’, she wrote, is ‘doomed’ to feelings of failure and guilt, because if she succeeded at conforming to mythical ideals of femininity she would be a mirage, not a person. She was expected to embody ‘an inhuman entity: the strong woman, the admirable mother, the virtuous woman, and so on’. Because femininity is so closely associated with prioritising the needs of others, with being likeable and giving, when a woman ‘thinks, dreams, sleeps, desires, and aspires’ for herself, she becomes less feminine – which, in the social currency of 1949 at least, meant she became a worse woman.

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Kate Kirkpatrick — Aeon

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Simone de Beauvoir’s #MeToo


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This dissatisfaction has arisen on the basis of moral objections to particular actions in particular situations. So to Colosimo’s claim that #MeToo feminism promotes a view of women as “victims and helpless objects of male desire rather than free agents” we need to ask two questions: first, if in other moral contexts free agency involves the freedom to denounce behaviour that we consider harmful, what’s different about this one? Second, what is this ‘male desire’, such that women are victims of it?

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Kate Kirkpatrick — IAI

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