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Simone de Beauvoir and Phenomenology

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Here is a short piece from a post I did at The Excerpt Mill on  Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) in where I quote Barbara S. Andrew:

One of the most significant aspects of The Second Sex is its encyclopedic indexing of women’s lived experience: biology, psychology, the experience of living in a female body and developing and living with a feminine mind-set. Many contemporary women’s first reaction to reading it is that they do not experience themselves in the way Beauvior describes. But this is to miss the point. Most of The Second Sex is a phenomenological, descriptive analysis. Beauvoir is not claiming that there is one way that we who are women experience ourselves, our bodies or our minds. Instead, she describes, and argues against taking as perspective, literary representations of femininity, biological sciences’ accounts of femininity, psychoanalytic theories about femininity, and so on. It is easy, initially, to confuse her work as participating in negative stereotypes of femininity, rather than cataloging them and analyzing their effect. Although Beauvoir’s descriptions of women’s bodies may seem negative, Arp argues that she is describing women’s experience of bodily alienation in understanding their social bodies, that is, the body as known through the experience of a sexist world.


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