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Simone de Beauvoir

God appears to woman more readily in the figure of the husband; sometimes he reveals himself in his glory, dazzlingly white and beautiful, and dominating; he clothes her in a wedding dress, he crowns her, takes her by the hand, and promises her a celestial apotheosis. But most often he is a being of flesh: the wedding ring Jesus had given to Saint Catherine and that she wore, invisible, on her finger, was this “ring of flesh” that circumcision had cut off. Above all, he is a mistreated and bloody body: it is in the contemplation of the Crucified that she drowns herself the most fervently; she identifies with the Virgin Mary holding the corpse of her Son in her arms, or with Magdalene standing at the foot of the cross and being sprinkled with the Beloved’s blood.1

… i sense the rudiments of this in H, she is not religious, but i hold a head of the household place in her mind, she defers to me most of the time, unless she really wants something, then she will take command and do it… mostly she hands the power to me even though she holds the economic power… her father is her prime god, she does her best to see him in me… for my part, i serve her the way a woman serves her husband and i try to benignly handle the head of household status… all these things are complicated in reality, there may be general trends but god, as a famous architect once said, is in the details, and the details of every case are different and create their own localized reality…

Mystical fervor, like love and even narcissism, can be integrated into active and independent lives. But in themselves these attempts at individual salvation can only result in failures; either the woman establishes a relation with an unreal: her double or God; or she creates an unreal relation with a real being; in any case, she has no grasp on the world; she does not escape her subjectivity; her freedom remains mystified; there is only one way of accomplishing it authentically: it is to project it by a positive action into human society.2

… and so, de Beauvoir concludes, woman as mystic is a dead end in and of itself, it fails to provide her with the relief she seeks, that of being significant to the world… only through positive action towards human society can any man or woman achieve fulfillment…

Part Four, Toward Liberation

… de Beauvoir notes that conditions have improved for woman, thought there is still a great distance to go… she offers that for woman to be free, she must make her own way economically, she must work…

The system based on her dependence collapses as soon as she ceases to be a parasite; there is no longer need for a masculine mediator between her and the universe.3

… the situation of woman in the world of work is complicated, womanhood is still in transition, manhood as well, since the patriarchal system has to adjust itself to the idea of multiarchy, that is, an equality of the sexes where the male does not necessarily dominate and in which he shares, according to his economic power relative to woman, in the responsibilities of maintaining family, home…

… de Beauvoir points out the difficult place woman is in, she is making her way in a patriarchal world, which might accept her into the fold if she denies her sexuality, becomes more like man… yet she is a renegade, a rebel, she defies convention in order to act on the world… there is no such challenge for man unless it is to do the reverse, to give up male sovereignty, his birthright, to become home maker, nurturer, etc… i think man, as woman takes her place in the world of action, will become increasingly challenged in having to become something that society has not generally prepared him for… moving into the gender (role) fluid space will be difficult for man, woman has a head start on this front…

But while conformity is quite natural for a man—custom being based on his needs as an autonomous and active individual—the woman who is herself also subject and activity has to fit into a world that has doomed her to passivity. This servitude is even greater since women confined to the feminine sphere have magnified its importance: they have made dressing and housekeeping difficult arts.4

… “they have made dressing and housekeeping difficult arts,” it is fascinating to me that Martha Stewart achieved autonomy, status as actor in the world, by providing woman with the instruction manuals to double down on their femininity, domesticity and servitude… she gained her independence at the expense of the progress of womanhood in general…

… de Beauvoir notes that progress is being made, that “men are beginning to come to terms,” with the new reality of womanhood… she notes that the situation is still more complex and harder for woman, that she struggles with frustration… it seems to me this is the condition of all human beings, that we aspire to things, ways of being, and rarely manage to execute with perfection on our intentions for a large host of reasons…

All living problems find a silent solution in death; so a woman who works at living is more torn than one who buries her will and desires; but she will not accept being offered this as an example.5

… “All living problems find a silent solution in death;” what a marvelous way to talk about subjugation of desire, passive resistance… we burry difficulties we can’t find a solution to, we move to inaction when the path to action is unclear…

  1. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 715). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 718). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  3. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 721). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  4. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 724). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  5. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 727). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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