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The Second Sex (Le deuxième sexe #1-2)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  13,965 ratings  ·  476 reviews
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 groundbreakin...more
Paperback, 746 pages
Published December 17th 1989 by Vintage (first published 1949)
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Community Reviews

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The fact that we are human beings is infinitely more important than all the peculiarities that distinguish human beings from one another; it is never the given that confers superiorities: ‘virtue’, as the ancients called it, is defined on the level of ‘that which depends on us’.
My life has led me to develop a love for thought, a love heavily dependent on the context of reality and my personal view of such, a love that has been, is, and will continue to grow through heavy doses of words both spo...more
Jojo Richardson
The part of this book that has affected me the most in the ten years since I've read it is most certainly the introduction, where de Beauvoir says that in order to define herself to herself she must start with, "I am a woman". This surprised her then as it surprises me now when I realize that that is how I must start, too. Although I grew up in a post-feminist "you can have it all" type of environment, it was eye-opening and disconcerting to learn that women are considered "the other" as opposed...more
Elena Holmgren
I am a humanist, not a feminist. I believe in natural rights, and resent the divisiveness implied in the valorization of minority groups. And yet de Beauvoir, I admire. That a text can rewrite the entire way our primal sense of sexuality is defined is a tribute to the power and genius (and also perhaps, the danger and destructiveness) of modernity. Who would've thought that the lot of woman, that once seemed so set in stone by the sheer force of her coke-bottle-shaped physique, could be unwritte...more
Ian Paganus de Fish
No Wonder Intrigue and Strife Abound

"A Man never begins by representing himself as an individual of a certain sex; it goes without saying that he is a Man."

Man represents himself as both the positive and the neutral. He represents Woman as the negative. Man represents himself as objective. He represents Woman as subjective.

Ironically, Man is the Subject, but objective; Woman is the Object, but subjective.

Aristotle defines a Woman in terms of a certain lack of qualities and therefore as defec...more

Well, presenting my review of The Second Sex:

Update: Who isn't barracking for Assange? I doubt the idea that the US or any other government, including the Swedish government which is apparently a covert member of NATO, with US intelligence sharing being kept from parliament, is behind the allegations in Sweden.

But it is a case of the ideals of protecting women from violence being well and truly exploited, as far as I can tell. A couple of girls trying it on. Does anybody have information to stan...more
كنت اتسائل كثيرًا : مالذي يجعل هموم النساء مشتركة ؟
لِم لم تنعتق المرأة من التبعيّة والإندماجيّة في جميع العصور وعلى مدى الأزمنة ؟

منذ عهد اليونان والفراعنة والصين مرورًا بالمرأة اليهودية وصولًا إلى المسيحية وإنتهاء بالإسلام .. والطبيعة المجتمعيّة التي تُفرض على المرأة واحِدة رغم تدرج الحقوق بين الأزمنة .
كان المضمون واحدًا "المنزل الأمومة الإندماجيّة رفض الإستقلال" والنتيجة وصفت كجنس آخر ليست ذاتًا مستقلّة .

سيمون كطبيعتها تنطلق من فلسفة وجودية ؛ فهي تتوغل في الذات الأنثوية منذ طفولتها وصِباها حيث...more
The Second Sex is one of those dense old feminist classics I was embarrassed not to have read. When I finally started it last month, it was almost impossible to put it down (though I did take a break in order to read William Vollmann's new magnum opus.) Simone de Beauvoir theorizes, hypothesizes, and generalizes about every phase of a woman's life, from infancy to old age, and the events marking each phase, such as menarche, sexual initiation, childbirth, and menopause. While Nick's review makes...more
Knocked Up
Up the Spout
A Bun in the Oven

* * *

The word “pregnant” is pregnant with connotation. And for women—often viewed in more bodily terms than men—nothing foregrounds a woman's body more than pregnancy. It’s interesting to consider what Simone de Beauvoir, dubbed the "mother" of modern feminism, thought about motherhood itself. Given what she writes in The Second Sex, Beauvoir would probably concur with my friend’s attitude…

...A number of years ago, a friend of mine spoke to me...more
This extensive, scholarly study, written in 1946 by French existentialist novelist and feminist Simone de Beauvoir is a seminal text for 20th-century feminism. The lengthy study contains numerous chapters, beginning with the history of women in societies throughout the world. Beauvoir's first basic observation is that the world has always been dominated by men--hence, her title that names women as "the second sex" or le deuxième sexe." Her premise that runs through the book is that there is no...more
Ameera H.  Al-mousa
كان هذا العالم دائما عالم الرجال وكل الأسباب المعللة لذلك بدت لنا غير كافية على أننا سنتمكن أن نفهم كيف تشكل التمايز بين الجنسين ,على ضوء الفلسفة الوجودية , ومن ذلك تنطلق الكاتبة النسوية الوجودية سيمون دي فورا بعدد تردد كما ذكرت أن الكتابة عن المرأة أمر مثير ولكن ليس بالشيء الجديد .

إذا كانت الأنوثة وحدها لا تكفي لتعريف المرأة , و ينبغي أن نسلم ولو بصورة مؤقتة أن هناك نساء على الأرض فعلينا حينئذ أن نتساءل ما هي المرأة ؟

ففي عهد القديس توماس كانت المرأة تبدو كجوهر تحدد خصائصه كما تحدد خصائص ومزايا...more
Nancy Monson
Fantastic! Should be distributed in 7th grade to all females. It is the handbook we were looking for.
Cristiane Serruya
May 17, 2014 Cristiane Serruya rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All women and men
Recommended to Cristiane by: EF Reims
Why I never manage to find the right edition of the book I'm reading on Goodreads baffles me.
Twice I've read Beauvoir in French. Mine is an old treasured edition, which I didn't find listed here. So, I set to read it again in English. It would be quite weird to write the review in English and quote Beauvoir in French...

Alors, on y va!

Humanity is not an animal species, it is a historical reality. Human society is an antiphysis – in a sense it is against nature; it does not passively submit to t
Nov 14, 2007 Namrirru rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: *EVERYONE !!*
So after mulling over the book for a few days, I came to the realization that de Beauvoir tends to harp on the negative in this text. How lack of purpose makes women neurotic and affects their relationships with people, or the various ways men are/were outrageously mysogyinistic, etc, etc. But given the time period, a little bit of firebrand preaching is acceptable.

She does lend some words for more commonplace issues, but then the text is subdued and explanatory so that a reader's eyes will dia...more
Fretty Panggabean
I didn't read this book from cover to cover. See, I had to read this book because I was using feminism theory on my final thesis. But I do agree with Simone de Beauvoir's opinions that in many countries including Indonesia, women are positioned mostly as citizen number two who have less privileges than men do in so many aspects of life. What I dislike most is the double standards applied to women. It's not enough for a woman to be good at one aspect of her life, she has to be good in all aspects...more
Louise Colette
Apr 23, 2008 Louise Colette rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All Women and Men
Shelves: women-s-studies
This was the first book I read after signing up for a class in French and American women writers. While I found myself overwhelmed with the class, this book totally destroyed my old ideas of men and women and our roles in the world.

De Beauvoir wrote so beautifully of all the things I'd been thinking and couldn't express. Woman as "The Other". . .

I became a feminist with this book. Please read it.
كتاب ثمين جداً
من الكتب التي لا تندم على قرائتها، كتابٌ من الكتب المعدودة التي لم تشعرني بأنها تحكمت بي بل شعرت بالانتعاش فكرياً و شعرت بأن افكاراً في رأسي اتخذت لغة سيمون ديبوفوار الصادقة و الموفقة.

تذكرت حواري مع قريبتي حينما كتبت لها بعض المقاطع من الكتاب فتستشعر ضاحكة إن كانت سيمون فرنسية أم سعودية؟؟؟
"One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman"

In The Second Sex, also known as the "feminist bible", Simone de Beauvoir opens making an interest approach on looking for biological, psychological and historical evidence for woman to have taken the place as "The Other" in society throughout our history:

"Biology alone cannot provide an answer to the question that concern us: why is woman the Other? The question is how, in her, nature has been taken on in the course of history; the question is what...more
David Haley
Aug 27, 2007 David Haley rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Due to length, only those who have a real desire to investigate feminism, gender, etc.
For me, reading Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex left me feeling overwhelmed, and even slightly frustrated--not at the text itself, but the lack of time I had to spend on it. I will definitely be re-reading it in the near future.

De Beauvoir disassembles feminine “inferiority” with rare, methodical tact. It seemed as though every other page summoned a flood of ideas and reappraisals in my mind. For instance, her description of the male/female relationship as “The One” and “The Other”, led me t...more
مازن الياسري
انه اهم واشهر كتاب عن حقوق وحرية المرأة
انه الجنس الاخر للفيلسوفة الفرنسية سيمون دي بوفوار
الكتاب الذي طبع لآول مرة عام 1949 وتلت الطبعات وترجم الى معظم اللغات العالمية
ما يحزنني انني حينما اقرأ في الكتاب عرض مشكلة المرأة الاوربية بثلاثينيات واربعينيات القرن الماضي اجدها لا تختلف كثيراً عن مشكلات المرأة العربية اليوم رغم الفارق الزمني العريض!
Vikas Lather
700 pages of magical reality. Beauvoir is one of those handful writers, worth a name. Simone's narrative quality is so much powerful, I've never experienced before. A must read for third world.

I will be revisiting this book very soon.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I can see that, historically, it was ground breaking, and completely revolutionized thinking about feminism. Even today, 60 years later, there were parts of the book that had me thinking, wow, things really haven't changed. Kind of a depressing thought. But the vast majority of the book I found somewhat out-dated and irrelevant, at least to me. First of all, I think much of the biology she discusses is not really correct. Our knowledge in this field has inc...more
This was surprisingly old-fashioned. It was published in 1949 but it just seems so out-dated and often - dare I say it? - wrong and irrelevant.

de Beauvoir's mission is to define woman and find out why the male is the "default" or "normal" sex, while the female sex is the other, the one who deviates from the norm. She does this by looking at biology, psychoanalysis, the history of women from the stone ages to today (or well, 1949) in France, USA, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Scandinavia, the Middle East....more
Jill Collins
I read several criticisms that assert Simone de Beauvoir must hate women, or perhaps she simply hates being a woman. These reviewers are so close to insight but they do seem to miss the point.

Throughout The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir constantly reaffirms the state and condition of femininity is a direct result of woman's situation. Women are not victims of hormones or mysterious whims, they are victims of systematic oppression. Women are defined as other, they have no identity of their own,...more
Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)
I always feel somewhat uncomfortable marking as 'read' those books I've come into contact with through readings (however extensive these may have been), but in this case I did at least leaf through the whole work purely out of interest.

The Second Sex may be regarded the most extensive and prototypical application of existential ideas, particularly Sartre's, and in this sense there is a lack of generality which might make the book dissatisfying given previous exposure to its philosophical anteced...more
Robert Monk
This is outstanding writing, an adult introduction to psychoanalysis, Marxist philosophy, and existentialism, all on the path to a classic statement of feminism.

Coming from the existentialist perspective of constructed social values, the arguments for 'woman' as a situation not a 'natural' fact, can apply to the situation of other oppressed groups, but de Beauvoir carefully notes the special position of woman within a biological species-imperative that complicates questions of cooperation refor...more
Jee Koh
Finally finished reading Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex" last Monday. "One is not born, but rather becomes, woman," so translate Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier that resounding challenge. So many terrific things in de Beauvoir's analysis of how one becomes woman. Nietzsche is transmuted into the existentialist project of self-transcendence. Part One rejects the idea of female destiny, as promoted by biological, psychoanalytical or historical materialist views. Part Two recou...more
ماتزال الفتاة عموما لا تؤمن بإستقلاليتها ..لأنها لم تشعر بذلك يوما ، بل هي ماتزال تؤمن أن نضال المرأة مازال نضالا رمزيا ، ولا شك بأن هذا وارد ، فكيف يتحول هذا النضال من رمزي إلى فعلي ..ولا توجد حتى قوانين صارمة تحول النظام القبلي إلى ميداني .
بل زد على ذلك ما تتربى عليه الفتاة ،فحياتها عموما لا شيء سوى الاكل والنوم والتنظيف . السنوات لا تسير صعدا إلى السماء ، و حياتها معلقة بالزوج .
ولا تستطيع حتى إزالة الذكورية من أحلامها .
فحتى الطفلة فترة البلوغ تولد لديها فكرة الخجل والخوف من مظهرها الجسماني ال...more
في بداية قرائتي لهذا الكتاب لم أحبب اسلوب الكاتب ورأيه فيما يخص جنس النساء وحديثة عن الاطروحات المختلفة للعديد من الفلاسفة من العالم القديم والحديث، ورأيت فيه تحاملًا وهجومًا على معشر الرجال والحديث بنظرية المؤامرة عن مقتضاهم في سلب النساء حرياتهم ولكن بعد تقدمي في فصول هذا الكتاب اعجبت جدًا بموضوعية الكاتب ودراسته للاختلافات بين الجنسين وطرحه لكافة اطوار حياة المرأة من الطفولة وحتى الشيخوخة باسلوب مقنع واقرب للواقع منه للفرضيات والاعتباطات العلمية التي تنشر تحت مسمى الدراسات .

وفق الكاتب كثيرًا...more
Jun 29, 2010 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who has the guts to read it

I began reading The Second Sex in August, 2008; I finished it in May, 2010. It is not a book one reads for pleasure, in the usual sense of the word. It is written in the style of a textbook, with Jean Paul Sartre's version of existentialism as the underlying philosophical base. Since de Beauvoir wrote it in the late 1940s, it is to some degree an historical document with a French middleclass viewpoint. When I began reading and experiencing the density of the prose, I attempted to read 50 pages...more
Nick Black
Dec 15, 2008 Nick Black marked it as gave-up-too-boring
I've a battered mass-market edition, about the most unappetizing way to package ~900 densely-printed pages imaginable. I gave up after maybe 20 turgid pages covered in a hard hour; even affording Mme. De Beauvoir a maintained linear ratio of actionable information to time invested, two full days of my life seemed better spent elsewhere (as reported here, DFW claimed to "receive 500,000 discrete bits of information [per day], of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it.")....more
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"Simone de Beauvoir was a French author and philosopher. She wrote novels, monographs on philosophy, politics, and social issues, essays, biographies, and an autobiography. She is now best known for her metaphysical novels, including She Came to Stay and The Mandarins, and for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary femin...more
More about Simone de Beauvoir...
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter The Ethics of Ambiguity The Mandarins The Woman Destroyed All Men are Mortal

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“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” 602 likes
“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.” 149 likes
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