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The Second Sex

(Le deuxième sexe #1-2)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  27,040 ratings  ·  1,180 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 ...more
Paperback, 746 pages
Published December 17th 1989 by Vintage (first published 1949)
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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
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who want the full picture
Recommended to Dolors by: Aubrey
Reading De Beauvoir’s seminal “feminist manifesto” has allowed me to compose my genealogical tree, for The Second Sex is a book about my mother and the mother of my mother and the mother of my grandmother and of all my female ancestors in endless regressive progression who rebelled before obeying and who ended up capitulating like slaves shackled to the indomitable future of preordained inferiority.

“Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
To seem, rather than to see, to appear, rather than to be: this, in a nutshell, has been woman's existential project thus far, according to de Beauvoir. Woman's historic destiny has prohibited her from developing into a self, understood as an autonomous ontic unit and agent. Instead, hers has been a merely instrumental existence defined entirely by her social roles. Never a maker of meaning, her success in life was defined to the extent that she was a suitable canvas for receiving others' ...more
Jojo Richardson
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
As a feminist, it's been recommended to me for years that I read Simone de Beauvoir's 1949 book, The Second Sex. As a regular person, though, I have always felt like it "wasn't the right time" to read it.

What does that even mean?

As someone living as "the second sex" myself, there is no excuse for this. I was lazy, bottom line. It's a big book, and while big books do not normally frighten me, I was worried I wouldn't be smart enough for Simone de Beauvoir. She was, from what I understand, a
Nov 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theory, feminism
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
Giss Golabetoon
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
it seems it has taken me almost a year to finish this book. in my defense it's 701 pages.
for as long as i can remember, since first i heard her name and after when i knew that there is a book called the second sex written by a French woman (and i admire the french), i have wanted to read it.
the years passed by, i was playing with the idea of learning as much french as i can to read it in the original but alas, so little time, so many books to read. and i also have a fetish for books in paper and
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
Steven Godin
This unfortunately was the short version of Simone de Beauvoir's 'The Second Sex' as I made a mistake when ordering (because of the price), so this is only extracts from the full version which hopefully will read at another time. As a passionate supporter of feminism, equality and sexual liberation for women this was an interesting and for it's time controversial take on feminist philosophy and would suit anyone who doesn't have the time on their hands to read the longer edition, but I am a ...more
Vikas Lather
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
May 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Nancy Monson
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Should be distributed in 7th grade to all females. It is the handbook we were looking for.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Second Sex examines gender as a social construct in society, especially how the position of women determines their oppression through setting woman as "other" in relation to man and masculine institutions. The book represents a classic manifesto of the liberated woman, its subversiveness has changed how we think of women.

This book explores wholeness of a woman's life. The first part is about facts and myths, exploring the woman through the point of view of biology, psychoanalysis and
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism

“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”

Incredibly interesting and eye-opening essay that describes the oppression of women throughout the years. Beauvoir analyses the historical, biological and socio-economic conditions that have led females to become the second sex and tries to define a path for them to overcome that disadvantages and fulfill their destiny. One of the best passages was the chapter where Beauvoir depicted the circumstances that led woman to be left behind in art:

Men we
Poet Gentleness
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All women and men
Recommended to Poet Gentleness 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
Fretty Panggabean
Feb 11, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-feminism
This isn't light reading, and I wouldn't recommend you read it unless your university or lover forces you to do so.

This was a painful and frustrating read for me as reflected in the names I gave it I soldiered through it:
"Being second, sucks"
"Why Kurt Vonnegut hated the semi-colon"
"The most masochistic thing I ever did"
"Comprehensively diabolical"
"Two legs bad, four legs good"
"Acrimonious Marriage Simulator"
"Disempowering pregnancy"
"How Men Disgust Me"
"Having and Eating Your Cake"

This book could
Jul 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
How could the Cinderella myth not retain its validity? Everything still encourages the girl to expect fortune and happiness from a “Prince Charming” instead of attempting the difficult and uncertain conquest alone.

I am not a true woman.

Because the majority of man that are featured in this book (and the majority of man in history) describe a true woman as “…frivolous, infantile, irresponsible, the woman subjugated to man.”

Yeah, no.

The book is not only about feminism, is a long essay about woman
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Additional notes (upon having read more parts on September 14):
After reading the chapters on love and marriage, I had to come back here and upgrade the review from a 3 star to a 4 star, and I know I am not being generous here, because what reading those chapters did, at this particular point in time, was shift my entire way of thinking. In that respect, this book now represents a spiritual experience: an awakening of some sort. This is a reminder of the magic of books and to what people might
Sidharth Vardhan
It might be owing to our short-term memory loss as masses but humanity is generally a very thankless species. The negative criticism that feminism receives, especially from women, seem, to be the result of this ingratitude. If you don't think we are all thankless folks, then tell me who invented condoms?

Times are changing fast and things one generation fought so hard for could be taken for granted by the next one - and to this new generation, the struggles of the previous generation might seem
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sep 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Roman Clodia
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One isn’t born, but rather becomes, a woman

Originally published in 1949, de Beauvoir’s massive analysis of the ‘othering’ of women across history and cultures is startling for its modernity, its breadth, its boldness and its unapologetic intellectual heft. Some of her assertions have been challenged more recently by feminist scholars, especially around questions of the gendering of biological bodies, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of this as a foundational and still relevant text.

Jill Collins
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
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,
Sara Batkie
I consider myself a pretty serious feminist and this was one of the more shameful gaps in my reading history, so I was glad to finally remedy that. It took a long time, and even in that span of several months a lot has changed in the wider cultural conversation (I believe the Times expose on Weinstein published a couple weeks after I started reading). But for something written so many decades ago, de Beauvoir's work remains surprisingly, and depressingly, relevant. There's still a lot of work to ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
It pains me to bail on this. Nevertheless, I have started to skip pages and then whole chapters and just dreaded to pick it back up. In my opinion, this is too dry, too repetitive and just plain outdated. I don’t need 800 pages to be shown with evidence out of history and literature that a women is a second class human in a patriarchal society. I guess that’s one of the big accomplishments of feminism that we are aware. I am more interested at this point to get pointers on how to slay the ...more
Louise Colette
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
one the best books i have read in a long time. 731 pages on women. some of the points raised are extremely compelling. simone de beauvoire came second in philosophy at the Sorbonne to JP Satre (who she also dated apparantly) i wouldnt even know where to begin to describe this book. i think this is a must read not only for men but a must must must read for women .... written in the late 1940s but still very very very pertinant today i think anyway. STUNNING BOOK.
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Simone de Beauvoir was a French author and philosopher. She wrote novels, monographs on philosophy, political 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 ...more

Other books in the series

Le deuxième sexe (2 books)
  • Le deuxième sexe I
  • Le deuxième sexe II
“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” 1090 likes
“When she does not find love, she may find poetry. Because she does not act, she observes, she feels, she records; a color, a smile awakens profound echoes within her; her destiny is outside her, scattered in cities already built, on the faces of men already marked by life, she makes contact, she relishes with passion and yet in a manner more detached, more free, than that of a young man. Being poorly integrated in the universe of humanity and hardly able to adapt herself therein, she, like the child, is able to see it objectively; instead of being interested solely in her grasp on things, she looks for their significance; she catches their special outlines, their unexpected metamorphoses. She rarely feels a bold creativeness, and usually she lacks the technique of self-expression; but in her conversation, her letters, her literary essays, her sketches, she manifests an original sensitivity. The young girl throws herself into things with ardor, because she is not yet deprived of her transcendence; and the fact that she accomplishes nothing, that she is nothing, will make her impulses only the more passionate. Empty and unlimited, she seeks from within her nothingness to attain All.” 354 likes
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