Hypatia's Reviews > The Second Sex

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
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U 50x66
's review
Nov 04, 2011

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bookshelves: non-fiction, feminism
Read from October 22 to November 04, 2011

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 increased so dramatically, that's not really surprising. It's also a small enough part of the book that I'm pretty much OK with that. I also felt like much of the psychoanalysis she discusses is outdated. The views presented are predominantly Freudian, and while I gather he's still seen as the father of psychiatry, I don't think many people today think his ideas were actually right.

My bigger problem with this book is that society, or at least the society I grew up in, has changed so dramatically. Many of the characteristics described have their origins in societal expectations for women. At the time, that meant grow up, get married, have kids. Yes you can entertain yourself by going to school or working (at certain jobs) until then, but once you're married, your husband will support you, and you can stop being a responsible adult. Women were treated like perpetual children, not expected to be able to take care of themselves or really know much about the world (sex, politics, anything other than housekeeping). That view is so far removed from my own upbringing that I just can't relate to it. I know there are women who are still treated like that in many parts of the world, including so-called liberated western civilization.

I think this is an interesting book, at least in part for the historical value. However, I think it's too dense and a little out-dated to be a good "intro to feminism".
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message 1: by Leajk (new) - added it

Leajk Nice review and cool name!

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