The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

For my Women Studies class at Wartburg, I have been reading The Second Sex (Simone de Beauvoir). I will admit that it’s interesting and worth a read for anyone who is fascinated by women’s relationships with the rest of the world. However, to me, it reads like a textbook. The entire first chapter relates women to eggs and men to sperm. It was fun to tell people about, but not to read. There were even quite a few words that were new to me, which is a novel feeling in itself.

The Second Sex

Although I have enjoyed learning about some of the topics in the book, it’s quite dry. I don’t believe I will end up finishing it. I realize that a lot of people hail this as  an amazing book, which it is good, it’s just not something you can pick up and read every day.

There were actually quite a few quotes that I thought worthy of writing down in my favorite quotes book — things like:

“Just as in America there is no Negro problem, but rather a white problem; just as ‘anti-semitism is not a Jewish problem: it is our problem’; so the woman problem has always been a man’s problem. We have seen why men had moral prestige along with physical strength from the start; they created values, mores, religions; never have women disputed this empire with them.”

I actually have to do a ‘book report’ over this book for the class. I have to decide on three major themes, relate it to our class, and talk about why I think it should be included in women’s studies classes as required reading. I personally don’t think it should be, so I decided to tell the class how it could be studied as a textbook rather than additional reading. I was considering starting off my report with one of two quotes that would give a good feeling of the attitude of this book.

An old Anglo-Saxon incantation says, “Hail, Earth, mother of men, may you be fertile in the embrace of God and may you be filled with fruits for man’s use.”

From Tertullian, whom she quotes multiple times, “Woman! You are the gateway of the devil. You persuaded him whom the devil dared not attack directly. Because of you the Son of God had to die. You should always go dressed in mourning and in rags.”

For my three main themes, I chose the ideas that women is the “Other” to man and that she was made FOR man, that marriage and reproduction imprison women and limits them, and how woman is related to nature — as I am also writing a paper on ecofeminism.

I do hope that someone finds this book interesting enough to pick up and read, though I know it’s not for everyone.


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