Women’s History Month Spotlight: How Simone De Beauvoir Shaped the Modern Feminist Movement

Posted on: 2024-03-12 10:23:14
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Simone De Beauvoir was born on 9th January, 1909. Even though it has been more than a century since her birth, she is still alive within the collective consciousness due to her influence in the feminist movement.

Simone De Beauvoir studied mathematics at the Institut Catholique de Paris and literature/languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie. She then studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and after completing her degree in 1928, wrote her Diplôme d'Études Supérieures Spécialisées (roughly equivalent to an M.A. thesis) on Leibniz for Léon Brunschvicg (the topic was "The Concept in Leibniz"). Her studies of political philosophy through university influenced her to start thinking about societal concerns.

Her most influential book is The Second Sex, which has been dubbed the feminist bible. In the book, her most famous idea, One is not born, but rather becomes a woman, appears. When Simone De Beauvoir says that one becomes a woman, she means that the societal idea of feminity is not natural but rather constructed. A woman learns her place in the world through the ideas of a man

The single quote hugely started instilling doubts into the minds of women everywhere, questioning whether the ideals they have been taught are natural or something purely fictional.

Simone De Beauvoir argued that women should become whatever they wish to be and they should dictate their own destiny, completely free from the holds of patriarchy.

Woman Fighting Against Oppression Child Help Foundation

She also says that motherhood is a tool used by the larger society to cut the clips of a woman’s wings. Society largely forces women to bear the burden of raising children which creates inequality for them in the job market.

Simone De Beauvoir also criticized marriage in patriarchal world order. She said that women’s worth does not lie in their children or husbands. She states that women are ‘given’ in marriage, while men ‘get’ married. She takes his name; she belongs to his religion, his class, and his circle; she joins his family, and she becomes his half.

Moreover, women lose their essence in patriarchal marriages. They lose their social support when she moves into the house of her in-laws, she is forced to lose contact with her childhood self, and she is asked to let go of her hobbies and interests to focus on domestic duties which is 24/7 unpaid work with no time for leisure.

Marriages in patriarchal societies leave women being a shell of their former selves, which itself kills the joy in marriages as women are no longer fully formed beings in marriage but only exist within the gaze of their husbands.

Through her work, Simone De Beauvoir breaks down the reason for women’s subjugation and has inspired women all over the world to question the ideals and perceptions forced upon them.

Child Help Foundation greatly respects and admires the works of Simone De Beauvoir. 53,426 people have benefitted through Child Help Foundation’s Gender Equality Programme.

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