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The Second Sex (1949)

by Simone de Beauvoir

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Second Sex (1-2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,337186,323 (4.1)3 / 70
Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir's masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of "woman," and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness. This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir's pioneering and impressive text remains as pertinent today as it was sixty years ago, and will continue to provoke and inspire generations of men and women to come.… (more)

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» See also 70 mentions

English (11)  Spanish (6)  Swedish (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
De Beauvoir is almost completely wrong, but this book is amazing. It is rich and very readable. ( )
  puabi | Nov 22, 2023 |
A low and long read, but worth it.

This has been on my reading list since college. I'm glad I didn't read this in college, it's way too long and I probably wouldn't have understood most of this at the time. The book makes me wish I took some kind of women's studies in college, since I'm very much interested in feminism.

Even though this is a philosophy book mainly, it does focus on female writers. She talks about a ton of writers I've read before like Virginia Woolf, Colette, George Eliot, and Dorothy Parker. There are some I've heard about, but haven't read yet. And there is a but of French writers I never heard of before. I find it helpful you know some of the people she is talking about before hand. It helps you get what her point is at time.

I like that she points out philosophy is pretty much a male dominated subject. While there are some notable female philosophers, there isn't a lot. She's not afraid to bluntly point out some sexist comments that were said by Aristotle, Plato, Freud, and Nietzsche. While I like them and wouldn't call them full on sexist, she makes a point. John Stuart Mill and Michel de Montaigne are two examples she uses as one who understood women a bit more.

While the introduction says she is Protestant, she isn't afraid to attack the Bible either. She points out several times how the Bible is wrong about women. While there are some examples or being a good women, women are always less than men. They get very little and very short chapters in the book. They usually are the Mary or the Eve character. God is a man even though women give birth, but that's all they do according to men at the time.

Besides the page numbers, the one thing I didn't like with this is when she uses numbers. She doesn't do much sourcing other than quoting works of fiction, but every now and then she quotes scientist and psychologist as well. Some of the numbers she uses seemed random to me. She didn't do a great job saying were she got them or it's unclear at times. She comes off as pseudo with science and psychology. Thankfully, the translator adds notes and a selected bibliography at the end. She even corrects her at some points.

Overall, this book is worth the read. More men should be interested in her works. Especially men into philosophy. This book might make you realize the voice of a women is just as important as the voice or a man in philosophy. It also makes you aware who is the voice in a philosophy work. ( )
  Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
Thus, man today represents the positive and the neuter —that is, the male and the human being— while woman represents the negative, the female.
Every time she behaves like a human being, she is declared to be identifying with the male. Her sports, her political and intellectual activities, and her desire for other women are interpreted as “masculine protest”; there is a refusal to take into account the values toward which she is transcending, which inevitably leads to the belief that she is making the inauthentic choice of a subjective attitude.
The great misunderstanding upon which this system of interpretation rests is to hold that it is natural for the human female to make a feminine woman of herself: being a heterosexual or even a mother is not enough to realize this ideal; the “real woman” is an artificial product that civilization produces the way eunuchs were produced in the past...

I’m not a fan of most non-fiction it tends to be a bit of a trudge to get through. This one, i’m assuming some of the psychological stuff is probably out of date, its also probably longer than it needs to be and uses too many examples. Especially the literary ones, i actually skimmed quite a lot of those.

Theses are very minor complaints however. The length and depth gives this a very comprehensive feel.
There were only two non-fiction books i feel had a major outlook on my comprehension of the world. The [b:Martyrdom of Man|1467199|The Martyrdom of Man|William Winwood Reade|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1348126939l/1467199._SY75_.jpg|1458115], from which i stole my user name, and one of those Introducing books on [b:Evolutionary Psychology|1803938|Introducing Evolutionary Psychology|Dylan Evans|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1387728969l/1803938._SY75_.jpg|1803140]Evolutionary Psychology.
This work is now the 3rd to be added to that. A lot of the information here feels obvious but in the same way evolution or other ideas often feel obvious once people point them out.
Its also not just about women. Because its impossible to talk about one group without putting them in context of other groups it also reveals a lot about men and other oppressed groups.

Highly recommended. Very clear, very complete, very impactful (, oh! and very depressing).

( )
  wreade1872 | Jul 25, 2022 |
I read this back when I was a teenager in the 50's when life as a woman was becoming visible in a disturbing way. I am more observer than participator but also a victim. I was very aware of my female place in the order of things and often despaired and the unfairness, the inequity, the vulnerability and the sheer workhorse aspect of being a woman, wife, mother and later office worker who put in the same hours for half the pay and came home to a second and third job. This book lingered and perhaps opened my eyes too far and tainted my experience of life but it was true in every aspect. With Roe vs Wade being overturned within the month, guaranteed, I am reminded of those years of terror of pregnancy and back alley abortions. Then having to fight my doctor for a tubal litigation after two abortions, one child given up for adoption and now raising two...I was thirty and he refused. I did manage to work around him and got my wish but it was another example of my having no control over or decision making over my own body. So here I am rereading and despairing once more for womankind. We accomplished so much, we fought and came so far but the machine is working to take us back in time, take away all our gains and put the next generation in chains again. ( )
  Karen74Leigh | Jun 15, 2022 |
This book consists of three parts all jumbled-up together so that some of the still relevant gets missed in the "WTF did I just read."

One part is a solid historical look at what the life of women really was like before "women's lib." Those who would romanticize the good old days where the little lady happily stayed home and the man went to earn their daily bread would be well-served to read how miserable this arrangement made both men and women. It's a great reminder of why we don't want to go back there, but not terribly relevant to today.

Another part is a psychoanalytic nonsense that posits that women can cause their own miscarriages due to ambivalence about pregnancy or unresolved mommy issues. This is the "WTF" part of the book and I wish it was more easily skipped.

The last, and thankfully smallest part, are those paragraphs that could be written today in 2022 with very little changes. The ones that speak about men who want casual sex and shame women who give it to them, the ones that call out the hypocrisy of men who ban abortions while pressuring their mistresses to undergo the procedure. Those parts are the ones that make this worth reading still today; the ones that will stick with me. ( )
  Jthierer | Jun 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Many of the author’s complaints against masculine oppression are justified, her observation is often acute and subtle, and her style is elegant if also slightly pretentious and often marred by unnecessary existentialist terminology. But as one reads on and on in this Black Book of the Male Terror, one becomes at first irritated and finally wearied by the unremitting whine of her special pleading. The agony is piled on until the most wholehearted believer in the equality of the sexes—as, for instance, the present reviewer—comes to suspect that the author has written the whole enormous tract out of simple resentment that she is not a man.
added by SnootyBaronet | editEncounter, Dwight Macdonald
“What a curse to be a woman!” Beauvoir writes, quoting Kier­kegaard. “And yet the very worst curse when one is a woman is, in fact, not to understand that it is one.” No one has done more than Beauvoir to explain the conditions of that curse, and no one has more eloquently, irately challenged us to turn that curse into a blessing.

» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beauvoir, Simone deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borde, ConstanceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koay, PeiDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malovany-Chevalier, SheilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mezhibovskaya, KatyaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suni, AnnikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thurman, JudithIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For a long time I have hesitated to write a book on woman.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work is the unabridged edition. DO NOT combine it with Parshley's abridged English translation (until recently the only one available in English). Currently in the process of separating out any remaining copies of the Parshley's abridged translation, which go on a different work page.
Please do not combine this edition of The Second Sex (ISBN 978-0-307-26556-2, 0307265560, 0224078593, 9780224078597, 009949938X, 030727778X, among others) with the earlier English edition of the same work. This version is newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time.
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Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir's masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of "woman," and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness. This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir's pioneering and impressive text remains as pertinent today as it was sixty years ago, and will continue to provoke and inspire generations of men and women to come.

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