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2021.04.13.02

Simone de Beauvoir

… yesterday i thought i was finishing the book… today i hope to…

Indeed, even with the greatest bad faith in the world, it is impossible to detect a rivalry between the male and the female human that is specifically physiological. And so their hostility is located on that ground that is intermediate between biology and psychology, namely, psychoanalysis.1

… i read this, i think to myself, do i agree with it?… yes, and no… we evolved in this direction socially for a number of physiological reasons, the relative physical strength of man and woman, the physiological burdens of fertility and child birth on the woman, the consequent need for the physiologically weaker woman to focus on child care while the stronger man see to defense and hunting… but, as de Beauvoir points out, physiology is not destiny, society can evolve and undertake a different attitude… this is made easier by technological advances that offer woman access to playing and battlefields, quite literally in the later case, she did not have access to before, quality of mind is more important than physical strength in many jobs now…

… de Beauvoir writes, “This is to say that the drama does not unfold on a sexual level; sexuality, moreover, has never seemed to us to define a destiny or to provide in itself the key to human behavior, but to express the totality of a situation it helps define”… i am less sure of this, instinct is a profound driver of human behavior, the instinct to procreate is among the most profound drivers, and then to nourish and protect progeny, this is what nature has offered us as the basic fabric of our being, the overwhelming desire to project our genes into the next generation…

… technologically and socially, we are arriving at a place where masculine and feminine roles can be, and frequently are, fluid… woman, though still handicapped, can step onto the playing fields of man, and compete, make, change the face of the planet, remake it in her image… as a newly arrived competitor on the field of immanence, there does not appear to be, as i had perhaps naively hoped, a difference in a woman’s point of view… they are confined to the rules of the game men have spent tens of thousands of years establishing, it will hardly be a surprise when the general outcome remains the same… what to do when the here-to-fore masculine capacity for acting on and transforming material reality is destructive to the conditions for life?… we find that immanence of the feminine is something that both man and woman need to embrace… it is not only about woman becoming actor, it is about man becoming nurturer, it is about a unified ouroboric whole that understands progress as learning to exist in harmony with the environment, the planet… continuous extractive and exploitive growth does not appear to be tenable, and woman finally finding her place in that heretofore place of continuous and extractive growth does not alter that lack of tenability…

Here too it is useless to allocate excuses and criticism: justice can never be created within injustice. It is impossible for a colonial administrator to conduct himself well with the indigenous population, or a general with his soldiers; the only solution is to be neither colonialist nor military leader; but a man cannot prevent himself from being a man.2

… and why then, should the best course of action be to admit woman to man’s playing field without expecting, allowing, encouraging man to enter woman’s playing field?… if man can’t stop being man, even as woman attempts to stop being woman, the situation is hopeless… but the idea that man cannot stop being man is an erroneous one, he, as well as she, is capable of fluidity…

… it is interesting that de Beauvoir sees a socialist state, properly executed, to be the way forward… she holds up the example of the Soviets, but we know that experiment has failed to deliver on its promise, man has been unwilling to give up his privileges, woman has not been set free and equal, if anything, a case of toxic masculinity on steroids in the form of Vladimir Putin and the oligarchs has evolved…

… the solution to the current plight of man and woman is coeducation which gives woman all the same skills and opportunities to deploy them as man, there is no discussion that man might be introduced to the feminine arts… it appears to me that the whole source of the problem as far as de Beauvoir is concerned, is that there is the feminine, androgyny is to be preferred, and yet…

Objections to this system always imply respect for sexual taboos; but it is useless to try to inhibit curiosity and pleasure in children; this only results in creating repression, obsessions, and neuroses; exalted sentimentality, homosexual fervor, and the platonic passions of adolescent girls along with the whole procession of nonsense and dissipation are far more harmful than a few childish games and actual experiences.3

… here, de Beauvoir seems to believe that homosexuality is created by society, not something a man or woman is born with… get rid of our prudish attitudes, let boys and girls do some exploring, homosexuality would not exist… or so it seems…

… to me she misses it, by insisting that woman join the ranks of man, hasn’t she perpetuated the myth of man/woman, masculine/feminine?… why shouldn’t man be set free to join the ranks of woman, should he be inclined to do so?… she, and we, are still confused on the point… gender fluidity is truly the only answer, the feminine should not be tossed overboard, rather, it should become territory freely and equally enjoyed by man and woman, just as she demands that the masculine be territory freely enjoyed by man and woman… feminine and masculine exist and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future, better to open up both playing fields one to the other, let man and woman move freely from one to the other and back again as situation and desires compel…

This could not be better said. Within the given world, it is up to man to make the reign of freedom triumph; to carry off this supreme victory, men and women must, among other things and beyond their natural differentiations, unequivocally affirm their brotherhood.4

… ???, it is up to man?, “men and women must … unequivocally affirm their brotherhood.”???… brotherhood?… my conclusion is that de Beauvoir rightfully identifies a problem in the embedded roles of man and woman, but that her solution, that man open up the gates of the masculine to woman so that she might join the brotherhood (of man?) will not prove satisfactory…

… there, i am done, i have read it cover to cover with a desire to pay attention and understand it…

  1. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 752). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 752). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  3. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 752). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  4. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 752). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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