Famous quotes explained: « One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. » from The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, 1949.
This quote from the famous feminist intellectual, who shared her life with another engaged author, Jean-Paul Sartre, is taken from her famous essay The Second Sex. On a thousand pages, Simone de Beauvoir strives to point out and deconstruct prejudices about women and their condition. This major work has significantly influenced modern feminist thought, and can be considered as the origin of gender theory, which, beyond biological differences between women and men, explains that social and cultural distinctions are just as important, if not more, to determine each one’s place in society.
Thus, with the effectiveness of parallelism and the conviction of a general truth, Simone de Beauvoir asserts that becoming a woman is not just a matter of sex or physiology. Becoming a woman is to be aware of being one, and this awareness is constructed by the family, social, and cultural environment. Society dictates to women the aspirations, possibilities, and attitudes that are allowed for them. Thus, it is a questioning of an established order.
To be a woman is not a biological destiny does not therefore mean that the organic reality is denied. Simone de Beauvoir simply points out that the feminine condition represents a model imposed from the outside, and not freely chosen by women. One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman expresses this evolution, this determinism. One becomes the expected feminine model, and not the person one wants to be. Obviously, at the time her remarks were scandalous, obviously the situation of women (at least in many countries) has evolved.
One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman
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