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Simone de Beauvoir and her work have provided something of a Rorschach test for feminist theory, with different generations and genres of feminism each projecting their own preoccupations upon her. First hailed as "Mother of Us All" and as the author ofthe so-called Bible of Second Wave feminism, she was mainly treated in the 1970s as an icon or held up as an ideal. But although in the 1970s many feminists found personal inspiration in The Second Sex as well as in Beauvoir's life, relatively few engaged seriously with the book as a major theoretical work. Mary Dietz's later observation that "like the Bible, The Second Sex seems to have heen much worshiped, often quoted, and little read" clearly had some truth to it.' For many it seems to have been Beauvoir's life that was the more important. This was a life that (at least as Beauvoir presented it in her autobiographical volumes) appeared as an ideal for the would-he liberated woman. Her "free" union with Jean Paul Sartre; her refusal of housework, marriage, and motherhood; and her intellectual seriousness and creativity—all were worthy of emulation.
S I N C E THE EARLY SECOND WAVE,
However, in 1979, a scholarly conference was held in New York to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the original French publication of The Second Sex in 1949; and twenty-five years ago, in the summer of 1980, the
Feminist Studies 31, no. 2 (Summer 2005). © 2005 by Feminist Studies, Inc. 286
first collection of North American scholarly articles o n Beauvoir and feminism was published in this journal. In their preface t h e editors spoke warmly of "the ongoing debt we owe to Beauvoir." However, the articles that followed were more ambivalent in tone. Mary Felstiner, for example, described the "contrary reactions" of both "ecstasy" and "disappointment" that The Second Sex sparked in her women's studies classes. She asked rhetorically: "Can't she [Beauvoir] see in the women's world anything more than stagnation? Isn't there a culture of nurturing and sisterhood that women can build on?" Jo-Ann Fuchs claimed in her article that Beauvoir's analysis of female eroticism was internally contradictory a n d simplistic, a n d
BOOKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ARTICLE Beauvoir and "The Second Sex": feminism, Rxice, and the Origins of Existentialism. By
Margaret Simons. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.
The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir. Edited by Claudia Card. C a m -
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Sex, Gender, and the Body: The Student Edition of "What Is a Woman;'" By Toril Moi.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Beauvoir. By
Sara Heinamaa. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.
The Other Within: Ethics, Politics, and the Body in Simone de Beauvoir. By Fredrika
Scarth. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.
The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Gendered Phenomenologies, Erotic Generosities. By
Debra Bergoffen. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.
Michele Le DoeufF described the book as empirically valid, yet as using a conceptual apparatus that was, as she dryly put it, "now a trifle obsolete."^ These ambivalent essays were harbingers of what was to come. As feminist theorizing exploded in the 1980s, The Second Sex was extensively discussed, yet often only to be dismissed as methodologically naiVe and self-contradictory. Feminist critics zealously sought to reveal what Penelope Deutscher has called "the notorious contradictions of Simone de Beauvoir."^ Beauvoir was said to be an essentialist, positing women as the hapless victims of their biology, and yet also a radical social constructionist
in the 1980s there developed (especially in the United States) an in- ." in Signs in 1981. New French Feminisms (1981). "French" feminism came to mean. (and other Western Anglophone) feminism. Such disparaging readings of Beauvoir were shaped intellectually and politically by two important shifts in U." of "ecriture feminine. Beauvoir was seen as increasingly old-fashioned. With the publication also of the key volume of translations. Beauvoir was profoundly male-identified in attributing greater freedom to men's public activities than to women's private ones.288 Sonia Kruks for whom women's oppression was entirely cultural. Moreover. She was accused of taking masculinist values as the norm to which women should aspire.S. "Women's Time. discourse-oriented feminism. the growing influence in the United States of the "new French feminism. responsible for their own oppression. in the Anglophone context. and for whom Beauvoir most often functioned as a tacit "Other." as Kristeva put it) was now definitively past. One was the turn toward "gynocentrism." As feminine difference. She was said both to claim that women were helpless playthings of the patriarchy and that they were free agents." and of poststructuralism more generally. A pivotal moment in this history was the appearance of the English translation of Julia Kristeva's essay. it was asserted. Without directly naming Beauvoir. moreover. She was portrayed as hopelessly mired in Sartre's old-fashioned and sexist existentialist problematic: in a phallocentric philosophy that celebrated freedom as the "project" of an autonomous. including feminine eroticism. the essay emphatically asserted that the time of her generation of feminists (the generation of "suffragists and of existential feminists. of disparaging the female body (of which she was often said to have an intense personal horror). This was a feminism that was not Beauvoir's. and of dismissing motherhood as inimical to women's liberation. celebratory of women's difference and hostile to the alleged phallocentrism of the entire Western philosophic tradition. distinctive women's values. heterosexist."' In addition to these gynocentric and posthumanist shifts in feminist theory. and feminine discourse came to be celebrated. and possibly racist. motherhood. With. a neo-Lacanian. masculine self. misogynist in her contempt for most women's lives. she was also cast as a naJfve "enlightenment" humanist.
to unwind its arguments and rewind t h e m in a different way" (271). Just as the most pervasive strategy in the initial (and highly hostile) French response to The Second Sex in 1949 had been to personalize it. It contained an "unusual number of condescending. The arguments that "feminism" was but an imperialistic movement of white. Moreover. in feminist treatments of a range of male French theorists. Indeed. one might add. the tenor of Beauvoir scholarship began . from Jacques Lacan to Jacques Derrida to Michel Foucault.Sonia Kruks 289 creasing focus on differences among women. And yet the story is not quite as neat as I have suggested. stories never are. in tbe 1980s. 23). at the end of her article in Feminist Studies in 1980. the feminist literature on Beauvoir was not only predominantly critical but also peculiarly nasty in tone. Felstiner had exhorted: "Try going back to The Second Sex. feminist theory. heterosexual. one in which (as Moi put it) Beauvoir's "right to be taken seriously" as a theorist was acknowledged. courageously breaking a taboo. so too. or dismissive accounts. She might be the Mother of Second Wave feminism. not to enter into debate with her" (Moi. By the time of her death. Thus. It was sound advice. She was also accused of insufficient attentiveness to racial and other differences among women. although in 1949 de Beauvoir's chapter on "The Lesbian" in The Second Sex had been pathbreaking. however. to her personal fears. but she was a mother whose daughters felt she had let them down-and because they could not ignore their ties to her they proceeded loudly to express their disappointment and hostility.S. There was always a strand of more considered engagement as well. sardonic. hostilities. as Toril Moi noted in 1990. in 1986-and for some years beyond—Beauvoir did indeed seem at best an "icon" and was more often the antagonist (explicit or implicit) for a growing body of U. "to reduce the book to the w o m a n [and] to discredit Beauvoir as a speaker. In the course of the 1990s. feminist readings of Beauvoir frequently dismissed her work by reducing it to an expression of her relationship with Sartre. and a few were already following it in the 1980s. she was now accused of stereotyping lesbians and of heteronormativity. prejudices. sarcastic." such as are not found in the treatment of other. and other failings. comparable French women writers'—or. middleclass women who silenced all others were also rapidly deployed against Beauvoir.
where she was vilified and expunged from feminist . there is now also a growing body of work on Beauvoir appearing in Europe and elsewhere.290 Sonia Kruks more generally to shift.' Readings of Beauvoir are proving pivotal in the recent turn toward what may be called postpoststructuralism: the endeavor to move beyond poststructuralism while continuing to heed its critiques of earlier feminisms. Intriguingly. and feminist ethics. making it easier to focus on Beauvoir the thinker rather than Beauvoir the icon or the Mother. In addition to. the Anglophone Renaissance. the posthumous availability of volumes of Beauvoir's letters and diaries have shed important new light on her life (including the revelations of her numerous affairs with women) and on her early intellectual formation. Furthermore. The suggestion I made in 1992 that "Beauvoir's account of situated subjectivity is one from which we could begin to develop an account of the gendering of subjectivity that can avoid both essentialism and hyperconstructivism" is now being productively pursued by many feminist scholars. To address Beauvoir is to engage in a range of current theoretical debates about (among other issues) the sex/gender distinction. In addition. in the last few years. These discoveries have invited new reflections on her significance for feminist theory and her status as an original philosopher. Thus the Beauvoir "Renaissance" should not be considered as an isolated phenomenon but should rather be seen as an integral element of this ongoing shift in intellectual and political sensibilities. Today. and partly stimulated by. a growing mood of caution about the benefits of poststructuralism for feminism has stimulated yet further work on Beauvoir. feminine embodiment. that Beauvoir worked faithfully in the framework of Sartre's "existentialism" and that she just "applied" his philosophy to the question of women. and it is clear that Beauvoir scholarship is far more than either a personal therapeutic or an historical exercise.' Against the unquestioned assumptions of an earlier generation. But why the shift in Beauvoir's theoretical fortunes? Beauvoir's death (in 1986) surely had something to do with it. sexual difference. this includes a growth of serious attention to Beauvoir in France. careful and creative unwindings and rewindings of Beauvoir's arguments are proliferating. recent work in feminist philosophy has now indubitably established Beauvoir's importance as an original philosopher in her own right.
for this is one of only two volumes in this extensive and prestigious series of (what their blurb calls) "companions to major philosophers" devoted specifically to a woman philosopher. Sartre. has been central to recent feminist philosophical work on Beauvoir. But more importantly. papers by French scholars covered topics as diverse as Beauvoir's materialism. Si- mons collects together her writings on Beauvoir from more than two . the recent publication of The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir reflects this success. and the Origins of Existentialism. The work of Margaret Simons has been fundamental both to tbe project of demonstrating Beauvoir's philosophical originality and to indicating the potential contributions of Beauvoir to present feminist theory. Equally of note. attending to Beauvoir as a philosopher in her own right has opened up new perspectives on her work and created new spaces for innovative feminist theory.Sonia Kruks 291 discourse in t h e epoch of high poststructuralism and ecriture feminine. indeed. Indeed. Kristeva herself gave a surprisingly sympathetic talk on Beauvoir and Sartre. At a major international conference held in Paris in 1999 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of The Second Sex. Race. Although certain ironies attend this success. and Beauvoir's political activism during the Algerian War. in what follows I shall confine myself to the Anglophone "Re- NoT SARTRE'S DISCIPLE The twofold project. for reasons of space. to demonstrate both that Beauvoir is philosophically independent of Sartre and that she is a significant contributor in her own right to the continental philosophy "canon" and beyond. t h e history of Beauvoir's reception in France. Beauvoir and "The Second Sex": Feminism. at another conference in Paris in 2003. she has now been enshrined in a philosophical "canon" that includes eminent men from Plato and Aristotle to Ludwig Wittgenstein and.'° In her 1999 volume. and one might wonder what Beauvoir herself would have made of it. Simons has also meticulously shown the glaring inadequacies of what still remains the only English translation of The Second 5ex.' However. The attempt to achieve recognition for the woman who previously was mentioned in works on existentialism merely as Sartre's companion has been remarkably successful.
as well as examining how she draws from earlier thinkers such as G. In her pathbreaking 1981 paper. Wright was a close friend of Beauvoir's in the late-1940s. with its dualistic core ontological distinction between being in-itself (matter) and being for-itself (human consciousness)—a distinction that could not adequately account for the complexities of human embodiment—and with its portrayal of human relations as fundamentally conflictual ones in which self and other struggle to objectify each other. Simons's own contributions to identifying Beauvoir's intellectual sources are offered in the two most recent essays in her book. contrary to received opinion. Simons shows." in which sbe describes her first meeting with Beauvoir in 1972.W. Sartre's philosophy was thoroughly masculinist. Simons begins the long. or from prior French thinkers." and her account of her travels in tbe United States in 19'17 makes it clear that Wright was her cultural and intellectual guide to the world of racial segregation.F. Edmund Husserl. there is evidence that influence often ran in the opposite direction. To her dismay Beauvoir insisted that the only important philosophical influence on The Second Sex was Sartre's Being and Nothingness. then on what other traditions and thinkers did she draw? Much ofthe more recent feminist philosophical literature on Beauvoir has been concerned with this question.292 Sonia Kruks decades. Beauvoir surely could not be the passive disciple of Sartre in matters philosophical that she claimed to be. that Sartre had significant intellectual debts to Beauvoir. But if many of Beauvoir's ideas were not derived from Sartre. With its insistence on the absolute freedom of the subject. Simons was already convinced by 1972 that Sartre's early philosophy could not be the philosophical origin of The Second Sex. Hegel and Karl Marx. "Beauvoir and Sartre: The Question of Influence" (here republished as chapter 3). and Martin Heidegger." Simons argues that it was from Wright's analyses ofthe experience of racism (rather than from Sartre's analyses of anti-Semitism in Anti-Semite and Jew) . painstaking task of intertextual reading to demonstrate that the relationship between the two thinkers was far more reciprocal than Beauvoir publicly acknowledged. tracing tbe influences on her thought of other figures in the phenomenological and existential tradition. Indeed. One considers the African American writer Richard Wright. including Maurice MerleauPonty. She begins the volume with "In Memoriam (1986).
" which was to become so central to The Second Sex. I cannot do full justice here to Simons's account of this early Beauvoir. each of w h o m speaks of relations among selves wbo are posited as autonomous and in conflict. by contrast. edited by Claudia Card." of lack of boundaries and excessive selflessness (231-32)—issues Beauvoir later explored at length in considering tbe modalities of women's existence in The Second Sex." is based on her careful study of Beauvoir's still unpublished diary. One is Beauvoir's very early attunement to embodiment as a register of experience. Beauvoir. Comparing herself to ber male student friend. but a couple of points especially merit mention. in part by showing from the diary the range of other thinkers who entered importantly into Beauvoir's philosophical formation. Questions concerning Beauvoir's status as an original philosopher.-Ponty. her relationship with Sartre. and the different philosophical influences on her work continue to be major preoccupations in Beauvoir scholarship. Merleau. The essay also discusses and quotes extensively from Beauvoir's rich meditations on her personal life and relationships. I live them with m y arms and legs" (cited on 205). "Beauvoir's Early Philosophy: The 1927 Diary. to demonstrate that key preoccupations that differentiate her work from Sartre's were already present before they met. Here again. before sbe met Sartre. Eva Gothlin argues that Beauvoir's more radical break with Cartesian dualism locates her work nearer to Heidegger's than . Simons argues that for Beauvoir (as for so many women). is more concerned with connectedness. Tbese suggest that Beauvoir's sensibilities anticipate (in Carol Gilligan's term) "a different voice" to that of Hegel or Sartre. "These problems that he lives with his brain. Of the fourteen essays in the volume. Indeed. Simons also quotes some intriguing passages from the diaries concerning self-other relations. Several focus on Beauvoir's relationship with a particular thinker. as well as her intellectual world. The final essay in Simons's book. at least eight are concerned wholly or in part with these questions. the problem is rather one of "fusion." This diary was written when Beauvoir was nineteen. she writes. Simons's project is to distinguish Beauvoir from Sartre.Sonia Kruks 293 that Beauvoir took the concept of "internalized oppression. as evidenced in The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir.
Indeed.S. Sara Heinamaa turns to Husserl as the most fundamental source of Beauvoir's conception of embodiment. Other essays locate Beauvoir's work in terms of various areas of contemporary philosophy (Barbara S. Nicolas de Malebranche. Andrew)." whicb she then adapted to the situation of women? It is equally plausible to suggest that she arrived at this concept primarily from reflecting on her own experience.294 Sonia Kruks to Sartre's. explore philosophical aspects of her novels (Mary Sirridge). These essays are uniformly of excellent quality. feminist theory. and discuss why Beauvoir insisted on refusing the title of "philosopher" (Miranda Fricker). and it thus may obscure or negate the sheer originality of some of her insights. Simons explores the importance of Henri Bergson for Beauvoir's philosophy. "Lesbian Connections: Simone de Beauvoir and Feminism" charts (from sources that include Beauvoir's posthumously published Letters to Sartre and her war diary) Beauvoir's erotic and emotional relationships with other women. that somebody else had to provide her with the concept of "internal oppression. and Susan James explores affinities between Beauvoir's account of women's complicity in their own subordination and the account of hierarchical social relations offered by the seventeenth-century French philosopher. For the search for non-Sartrean intellectual origins at times results in portraying Beauvoir's work as overly derivative of other established male thinkers. Why assume that Beauvoir needed an influence. other essays in Simons's volume move beyond questions of influence in order to locate Beauvoir more directly vis-a-vis contemporary U. It argues that in her published writings . I see no reason to claim that it was Wright "instead" of Sartre who was the "influence" here. and Monica Langer explores the importance of notions of ambiguity in Beauvoir's work and argues that they place her closer to Merleau-Ponty than to Sartre. the project Simons began has proven somewhat double-edged. although Simons-to return to my discussion of her 1999 volume-does a fine job of researching the connections between Beauvoir and Wright. because they do not go on (as indeed each of them well could do) to explain how their readings of Beauvoir could further contribute to feminist theory. For example. but several of them may be of more interest to intellectual historians or historians of philosophy than to a broader audience of feminist scholars. However.
and many of the readings of Beauvoir that criticized her for inconsistency were presaged upon it. pivotal in this shift. Beauvoir clearly rejects the "either/or" of heterosexism versus lesbianism. for Beauvoir's work simply did not line up with the distinction. they are all the effects of discursive and performative practices. This essay intimates that Beauvoir may help us to think anew about the still vexed issues of sex/gender relations and of how adequately to theorize women's embodiment." Simons positions Beauvoir with regard to early radical and socialist feminism. doubtless because of her own emotional baggage. with the poststructuralist tide in feminist theorizing running high. The poor thing was incoherent and confused. most often in bad faith. It follows that any sense we have of deep "inner" subjectivity. and Moira Gatens. depicting woman as the plaything of her hormones and reproductive biology.Sonia Kruks 295 too. horribly-essentialist." Moreover. she vacillated. "sex" was as much a social/discursive construct as "gender". Sara Heinamaa. complied with it. During the 1990s. or ofthe temporal stability ofthe self. and the relationship between bodily morphology and sexuality was wholly arbitrary. whose works I address in the next section. It seemed that Beauvoir could not make up her mind. the sex/gender distinction itself came to be put into question: biology was not a factual science but itself a highly politicized discursive practice. The chapter on "Biology" in The Second Sex was said to be profoundly-for some. into being. In "The Second Sex and the Roots of Radical Feminism. The work of Judith Butler was. In Cender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990). suggesting that Beauvoir anticipates certain aspects of poststructuralist feminism in "extend[ing] social constructivism to sexuality" (155). AND SEXUAL D I F F E R E N C E The distinction between "sex" and "gender" was a key analytic of early Second Wave feminist theory. or subject. These matters are more fully explored by Toril Moi. sex. it is such practices that bring the self. E M B O D I M E N T . But then Beauvoir was also a radical social constructionist. sexuality. and gender are collapsed together. and in anticipation of more recent gender theory. of course. S E X / G E N D E R . None is "natural. She was said to anticipate "gender" in insisting that femininity was a social construct imposed by men on women who then. is an "illu- .
naively sought to maintain the freedom of the subject-and hence also. maintained. Cender." Because Moi was instrumental in introducing poststructualism into Anglophone feminism in the . Butler sharply differentiates herself from Beauvoir. A m o n g new works. Beauvoir. the possibility of women's resistance—only by sundering the agentic self from its body. with some theorists arguing that it denied subjectivity and adequate agency to individual women. To do so. This is one of the main factors that has fueled the Beauvoir Renaissance.296 Sonia Kruks sion. whom she casts as a dualist: Beauvoir's analysis of embodiment is (like Sartre's) premised on "the uncritical reproduction of the Cartesian distinction between freedom and the body . But. she believed. still it occupied a hegemonic position within feminist theory. others that sexual difference is a physical reality that cannot be reduced to discursivity alone."" In Cender Trouble. Beauvoir had to cast the body as "a mute facticity. and the Body: The Student Edition of "What Is a Woman'"^ is of particular interest. gender." for Beauvoir's work proves to be a fertile place to think anew about sex. there is now a more widespread probing of the theoretical and practical limitations of—at least unmitigated—poststructuralism and a turning toward post-poststructuralism. and sexual difference and about embodied subjects that may enjoy agency and even "inner" experience. yet which are not "immaterial" Cartesian consciousnesses. Although during the 1990s the kind of poststructuralism epitomized by Cender Trouble was often criticized. . "gender" is but a set of discrete but repeated stylized acts. and rationalized" (12). Moi's Sex. [and] any uncritical reproduction of the mind/body distinction ought to be rethought for the implicit gender hierarchy that the distinction has conventionally produced." and it is these styles that "produce the coherent gendered subjects who pose as their originators. understood in Cartesian terms as radically immateriar'(129). . as I have suggested. publicly performed." Thus. anticipating some meaning that can be attributed to it only by a transcendent consciousness. In the new postpoststructuralist readings of Beauvoir. that produces the "illusion of an abiding gendered self. what were once dismissed as hopeless contradictions or as untenable dualisms in her work now turn out to be "operative contradictions"" or else are real ambiguities of human existence that Beauvoir's synthetic method enables us to grasp. Butler argues.
education. However. Simone de Beauvoir's feminism of freedom is an obvious cornerstone" (vii). The pivotal section of the essay focuses on Beauvoir's no- . of which I shall discuss only the first. Next. "What Is a Woman? Sex. Gender. and that the question of what "a woman" is. it is a question to which. which will be a useful classroom resource. She wants to show that the term "woman" is not (as is so often claimed) inherently essentialist or metaphysical because its meaning is not fixed. one that steers a course between the Scylla of traditional essentialism and biologism. depending on the concrete specificities of the lives being examined: "the answer to the question of what a woman is. sbe traces the emergence of the poststructuralist critique of this turn-that the depiction of "sex" as it is counterpoised to "gender" is too ahistorical and essentialist— before going on to develop her own critique of the poststructuralist critique. Moi's essay is not "about" Beauvoir so much as about bringing Beauvoir (along with a insights drawn from ordinary language philosophy) to bear on current impasses she sees in feminist theory. and the Charybdis of the idealist obsession with 'discourse' and 'construction." which takes its title from Beauvoir's opening question in The Second Sex. as well as a powerful plea for a more freedom-oriented feminist theory than poststructuralism permits. She begins with the history of "sex" as a biologically determinist concept as it emerged in a late-nineteenth-century "scientific" discourse. Moi writes in the preface that she sets out "to find a third way for feminist theory.'" and she goes on to observe that "for such a project. Moi's essay provides an elegant historical sweep through the history of the concepts of sex and gender.Sonia Kruks 297 1980s (notably with the publication of her SexualjTextual Politics: Feminist Liter- ary Theory). purporting to prove women's necessary incapacity for citizenship. and she shows how early Second Wave feminism turned to radical social constructionism—and so to "gender" and the "sex/gender" distinction-as effective means to combat biological determinism. She wants also to find ways beyond what she regards as the excessive theoreticism and de facto erasure ofthe physical body by poststructuralist feminists. and so forth. there will be a multiplicity of responses. The book consists of two long essays. and the Body in Feminist Theory. she insists. this new work constitutes a tacit auto-critique. is still an important one to ask. is not one" (9).
tben we surely do not have to try to expunge biology from our answers to tbe question "what is a woman?" Rather. and tbat sex is effectively indistinguisbable from gender because it is equally cultural is in fact the implied proposition tbat biological sex matters. facts do not determine vcJues). and Moi empbasizes its affinities witb Merleau-Ponty's more consistently embodied and historicized vision.298 Sonia Kruh tion that "the body is a situation. It may avoid the pitfalls of "theoreticism" to which Moi claims poststructuralists are prone: the belief. then tbey would indeed give rise to social norms. as David Hume put it long ago. but rather that it fails to attain them. Moi argues. in wbich Beauvoir writes: "As Merleau-Ponty very justly . tbat is. "I get the impression that poststructuralists believe tbat if there were biological facts. a way of giving the prediscursive body its due without lapsing into biological essentialism. The core of Moi's critique of poststructuralism is not of its historicizing aims. It undermines itself by tacitly reinscribing tbe sex/gender distinction and an essentialized notion of sex such as tbe one it has set out to overturn." Thus an approacb tbat focuses on tbe body as a situation will also be fluid and more attentive to particularities than is high poststructuralism. it is not experienced. But. However. Beauvoir's notion of freedom is not Sartre's. For what is at stake in attempts (notably Butler's) to insist that tbere is no "natural" body. tbat tbere is no significant biological aspect to sexual difference. we will seek for answers tbat can better acknowledge tbe concrete experiences of women. But. as eitber biology or as culture-but ratber as an indivisible "situation. Contrary to tbose wbo bave wanted to retrieve Beauvoir's significance by "rescuing" her from ber existentialism. tbe body is not actually lived. Moi insists on the central importance for feminism of Beauvoir's existential notion of freedom. as we learn from Beauvoir. tbey paradoxically share the fundamental belief of biological determinists" (42)." Sbe quotes from a passage in The Second Sex that is key for ber interpretation. itself highly metapbysical. if we once let biology into the picture it must inevitably shape oppressive social norms. tbat "tbeoretical correctness" is itself tbe guarantor of good feminist politics (59). In this way. if we really believe tbat nothing by way of social norms bas to follow from biology (tbat." in which Moi finds "a powerful and sophisticated alternative to contemporary sex and gender theories" (59).
one does not "become" only one's sex—or one's gender." How one becomes a woman does indeed require having been born witb a specific kind of biological body. we consider tbe body as a situation tben we grasp tbe embodied subject as it actually experiences itself: tbat is as an ambiguous and "irreducible amalgam"(74) of facticities and freedom. Reflecting on Beauvoir's famous sentence. "a woman defines herself tbrougb tbe way sbe lives ber embodied situation in tbe world." Moi's empbasis is on the word "becomes. it is a situation: it is our grasp upon tbe world and a sketcb [es^wisse] of our projects" (cited 62). but ratber becomes a woman. or gender. If.. tbe facts of both biology and culture are important and our lives are never wholly free of tbem." writes Moi. tbrougb tbe way in whicb sbe makes sometbing of wbat tbe world makes of ber. Thus Moi goes on to criticize tbe concept of "gender identity" as a reifying closure on the fluidity of individual experience (81-83). Arguably it leads ber implicitly (and consonant with her move beyond poststructuralism) toward a post-poststructuralist revision of humanism: to a political dis- . In tbe analysis of lived experience. but ratber a becoming. "Tbe woman I bave become. Woman is not a fixed reality. tbe body is not a tbing. in contrast to theories tbat empbasize eitber sex. "is a fully embodied buman being whose being cannot be reduced to her sexual difference be it natural or cultural" (78). or their duality. "one is not born. tbe sex/gender distinction does not apply" (72). Tbat woman is not a "fixed reality" puts out of play botb biological determinism and tbe determinism tbat Moi (rigbtly) points out may also follow from a tborougbgoing cultural constructionism (67)." However. As Moi interprets Beauvoir. or in other words. yet tbey are not merely tbe effect of tbem eitber. it is not clear to me wbere Moi's reading of Beauvoir finally leaves ber politically.Sonia Kmks 299 puts it. Tbe final section of tbe essay considers some cases discussed by feminist legal tbeorists. For our lived experience is built on many otber things tbat "per se bave nothing to do with sexual difference" (78): "a woman is a buman being as mucb as sbe is a woman" (83).. he is a bistorical idea. Tbe process of making and being made is open-ended: it ends only witb deatb. in order to sbow in a more applied fashion bow the sex/ gender distinction may reify difference and fail to belp us respond to the complexities of embodied existence. man is not a natural species. However. Yes.
toward some new version of androgyny. in which we are given descriptions of the experience of neither sex nor gender but of irreducible lived. Although Heinamaa concedes that Beauvoir's tone is sometimes "negative" (74). Beauvoir. For example. Because Moi argues that in many instances sexual difference may have no significant bearing on our experience or actions. the important point is that Beauvoir shows us how women's bodies are seen as inferior only from the "instrumental" perspective of masculine thought. is more emphatic about the in- dissolubility of sexual difference. By contrast Heinamaa's recent book. Arguing that Beauvoir's phenomenological method is grounded in her readings of Merleau-Ponty and of Husserl. The Second Sex is neither a biologistic nor a "social constructionist" work. Thus. Heinamaa claims that the book's value lies not only in the account ofthe lived experience of feminine existence it offers. She claims that Beauvoir "did not take the man/woman division as just one aspect of human experience but saw it as the dominant distinction structuring our bodily sensations and feelings and also our highest spiritual achievements. but also in its attendant critique of the objectivist and instrumental stance of both the natural and social sciences. Contrary to the way it is most often read in the feminist literature. feminine embodiment. its descriptions do not claim to be "factual" but are rather distillations of lived experience.300 Sonia Kmks course that asserts freedom and human potentiality as universal values. in the much-criticized chapter on biology and in her accounts of pregnancy and childbirth. Merleau-Ponty. and it seeks to offer neither causal explanations nor empirical accounts of women's oppression. let alone that it is the source of their oppression. even as it remains attuned to the dangers of universalism. above all by focusing on The Second Sex as an original work of phenomenological philosophy. within which male thinkers have depicted women. "the con- . Heinamaa claims that. in the final analysis one is left wondering whether Moi's vision is of a world in which sexual difference is less oppressive. For Beauvoir. or whether it is one in which sexual difference simply should become less significant in the daily experiences of all human beings. Beauvoir is not making any objective claims about women's physiology. philosophy included" (xiii). Heinamaa also seeks to dissolve the sex/gender distinction. entitled Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl. she argues.
hecause women experience the "alien vitality" of their hodies differently from.. hut that such experiences give rise to a more heightened awareness of the alien vitality of their hodies and. Beauvoir is making no claim here ahout causality or ahout the necessary subordination of women.Sonia Kmks 301 ceptual framework of instruments is inadequate as a whole in the description and analysis of feminine experience" (70). hecause in prehistoric nomadic culture w o m e n were the ones hound to the hurdens of species reproduction and infant care. pain. To account for this continuity.. as real experiences to which we should he attentive. .arer] the innovative functions common to all humanity" (cited on 106). It is not just that they alone experience menstruation. Biological "facts"-similar to "social" facts—do have a "reality." neither can they he granted causal status in accounting for that oppression either (83). Heinamaa points out that. Heinamaa points out. Beauvoir argues that. men. punctuating their lives.™ Heinamaa writes: "women's suhjection is a h u m a n formation founded on and sustained hy nothing else than repeated acts of devaluation and ohlivion. for Beauvoir. In Heinamaa's reading. such differences in emhodied experience are fundamental to h u m a n existence.. sickness. enter it into the temporal structures of women's experience differently. In their unpredictahle vulnerahility to arousal. menopause. But. For example. this too has heen without causal necessity. men were the ones who had "the opportunity to 'lay hold of and 'appropriate' [acca. But. And if the suhordination of women has continued down to the present day. our hodies are at once ourselves and alien to us. Unlike Moi. although not "necessary" in the strict scientific meaning ofthe term. or lactation. hecause they do not constitute a "static essence. and so forth. more so than "racial" distinctions which are not made hy all societies (86).. Although women's oppression may heighten them. these differences are not a consequence of it. are encountered not only as integral to the self-as situation—hut also as an often threatening "alien vitality" (72)." but as lived phenomena. pregnancy. and more intensely than. irrespective of sex. are perpetuated hecause they acquire the feel of heing necessary and inevitahle. But it is still a mistake to talk generically of "the" hody. Heinamaa finds in Beauvoir (and Merleau-Ponty) a notion of "repetition" as that which transforms contingency into a set of practices that. h u m a n hodies.
and these cannot he adequately addressed exclusively on a phenomenological terrain." pointing out that Beauvoir considers a range of . she carefully unpacks Beauvoir's usage in The Second Sex of the three terms "female. Power functions in the domain of the instrumental and strategic and. such phenomenologies alone do not enable us to comprehend adequately how power operates. Questions ahout sex/gender. It is as if we had learned to speak in a very noisy environment and never later gave up the hahit of shouting" (122). emhodiment. Heinamaa concludes. In a more analytical mode than Moi or Heinamaa. But. as a dialectic of ohjective processes and suhjective. perhaps hecause her undivided focus on its phenomenological aspects tend to occlude them from view. as well as from the inside out. But Beauvoir does ask-and seeks to answer—questions about how women are oppressed. lived experiences. hecause men may well fmd a certain "rationale" in the privileges they are granted hy "current circumstances. Heinamaa seems to he insufficiently attentive to Beauvoir's consideration of power relations in The Second Sex. notahly Gatens's "Beauvoir and Biology: A Second Look.302 Sonia Kruks Beauvoir's original suggestion is that the suhjection of women to men has no other 'foundation' than the acts that reiterate hierarchy" (103-4) and therefore. want to ask who the "we" includes here. that she does not seek a "first cause. Heinamaa is correct that Beauvoir does not ask why women are oppressed. The great value of Heinamaa's perceptive study is to show us how Beauvoir invites us to develop (against scientistic theory and analysis) noninstrumental descriptions of the experience of sexual difference. for this oppression." In general. We might." or a primary point of origin." Gatens also questions the assumption that Beauvoir was "the mother" of the sex/gender distinction. I do not read The Second Sex as an exclusively phenomenological project. although phenomenological accounts of power relations are important. sexual hierarchy "is like a hahit formed in the past hut lacking all rationale in current circumstances. however. In The Second Sex women's oppression is examined from the outside in. and sexual difference are also addressed in some of the essays in The Cambridge Companion to Sinume de Beauvoir." "feminine. hecause Beauvoir also has a fine sense of the calculated interests of women and men as well as of the institutions and social practices that perpetuate women's structural dependencies. unlike Heinamaa." and "woman.
For a "cluster concept" does not rest on a fixed. However. one may cease to he "female" (because one no longer has the operative reproductive apparatus this term designates). be a hiologically female human heing who is not "feminine" and who is not identified (hy oneself or hy others) as a "woman. In her essay in The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir.Sonia Kruks 303 permutations of these characteristics that confounds the neat binaries of sex/gender. Gatens suggests (drawing on the work of Natalie Stoljar) that "woman" is best thought about as a "cluster concept" and that Beauvoir's account of what "a woman" is should he interpreted in this way." Deutscher takes Beauvoir's treatment of aging as a vantage point from which to explore how certain specificities of emhodiment may shape our practical possibilities and "impinge" on freedom. not only our hodily ability to act in the world hut also the incapacities of our hod- . A M B I G U I T Y . essential definition. like Moi. after menopause." without lapsing into essentialism or into reifying gender categories. for example. or even "woman. pointing out that "[Beauvoir's] depiction of aged bodies interconnects with her depiction of sexed hodies" (301). hut on a looser and shifting set of characteristics. Deutscher skillfully conjoins readings of The Second Sex and Old Age. for Beauvoir's "existential" preoccupations with individual freedom and responsihility and with self-other relations (be they of oppression or mutuality) are profoundly implicated in her accounts of emhodied experience. E M B O D I M E N T . AND F E M I N I S T E T H I C S In previous sections I have focused on works that estahlish Beauvoir's theoretical distance from Sartre and that draw from her a nondualistic and nonreductionist account of feminine embodiment. Analyzing old age requires Beauvoir to reformulate Sartre's views on our absolute and indestructible "ontological" freedom. Thus. only some of which any particular member ofthe class needs to share to belong to it. yet still be "feminine" and/or identified as a "woman" (278-79). For Beauvoir. and his consequent assertions that we have full responsihility for our own lives and fall into "had faith" when we seek to deny it." Or. Gatens finds in Beauvoir a way of discussing women. "Beauvoir's Old Age. she agues. such undertakings necessarily interweave also with questions ahout values and ethics. One may.
embodied subject. "biological facts [for example. she argues. and especially for aged women." But in Old Age. It is men's fearful refusal of this amhiguity and their projection onto women of the menacing. For women and the aged. social. more than Deutscher. rejects Sartre's ideal of the sharply demarcated "absolute subject" as an illusion. and she instead emphasizes a more permeahle. and Beauvoir's judgmental tone toward traditionally "feminine" women has shifted. they remain free to reject such feminine characteristics as "weakness. Fredrika Scarth. one that in The Second Sex she descrihes as "this strange amhiguity of existence made body" (cited on 164). Beauvoir acknowledges a far greater "impingement" of hoth physical and social constraints not only on our field of practical action but also." By contrast. Responsihility for one's failures is now viewed as profoundly mitigated by one's situation. on our ontological freedom. as Scarth puts it. and psychological factors" (289-90). "if the social status of one's emhodiment leads to one's experiences ofthe world in terms ofthe 'cannot. also addresses the ambiguities of freedom and embodiment as she seeks to develop a difference-sensitive ethics from The Second Sex. Rather. Deutscher notes that in The Second Sex Beauvoir still regards many (although not all) women who accept "feminine weakness" as in "had faith". claims that Beauvoir's account of "the subject" in The Second Sex is already radically different from Sartre's. As Beauvoir famously writes of this projection: "He is the Subject. for. Politics. the acceptance ofthe amhiguities of our emhodied existence-our acknowledgment. he is the Absoluteshe is the Other. in The Other Within: Ethics. and the Body in Simone de Beauvoir. Scarth. the shortness of hreath which makes one 'unable' to climb mountains any more] are always already synthesized with historical. of "the other within"—initiates the possihility of a feminist ethics in which generosity and openness to others in their differences are core values.' the status of one's ontological freedom is altered" (290).304 Sonia Kruks ies—the "I cannots" that we often encounter the most sharply in aging— are at once physical and yet never merely physical. of heing cast as Other. Deutscher argues. since they enjoy "ontological" freedom. these "I cannots" receive their meaning within a particular social context: one of devaluation. uncontrollable aspects of their own embodiment that give rise to the construction of woman as Other in patriarchal society. . less autonomous. they hear a moral responsihility for their oppressed status hecause. thereby. Beauvoir.
and many of her arguments take their cue from Bergoffen. The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Cendered Phenomenologies. we come to accept differences and to let the other he. delighting in her or his otherness. Bergoffen argues that two "voices" run in tension through Beauvoir's work." and that freedom involves autonomy and control. for Beauvoir. heyond the couple (be it two lovers or mother and child) and toward questions of group relations and a politics of difference. Scarth huilds on Dehra Bergoffen's earlier. she argues. for in free relations of erotic generosity we seek neither to dominate nor to lose ourselves in the other. thus nonpatriarchal) eroticism is a crucial site for such ethical relations. The other voice." accepting the masculinist claims that "suhjectivity equals transcendence. Bergoffen explores how. Rather. One is still a Sartrean voice that focuses on "the ethic of the project. By attending to this voice Bergoffen carefully begins to tease from Beauvoir's work an "ethic of generosity" and a celehration—ahsent in Sartre—of the joys of giving and of sustaining human bonds. pathhreaking work. "For Beauvoir. and she argues in detail against earlier feminist readings that claim that Beauvoir valorizes a masculine conception of freedom or that she denigrates the female hody. a free (that is. any relationship in which we project onto others what we most fear turns . However. recognition means an acknowledgment of otherness.Sonia Kmks 305 In developing this reading. Scarth writes. she adds a significantly new dimension to Bergoffen's work by more fully directing these arguments outward. like the lover's erotic generosity. elahorating on Beauvoir: "just as woman as Other is a way for men to avoid the demands of reciprocity and the real risks of freedom. nonalienated. Erotic Cenerosities. that we recognize our need of each other" (99100). is the gift one makes of oneself to the other for the sake of the relationship which reveals us to each other in the intimacies of our fleshed being" (209). great promise for feminist ethics. Similar to Bergoffen. especially of The Second Sex. Pointing here to Luce Irigaray as Beauvoir's "unlikely ally. Scarth also emphasizes the erotic and the maternal as key sites for an ethics of generosity. she argues." Bergoffen also suggests that we consider the maternal body as a site for an ethic of generosity: "Maternal generosity. It is in recognizing our otherness." holds. which Bergoffen calls Beauvoir's "muted voice. Scarth focuses on the positive ethical aspects of Beauvoir's work.
far from heing inattentive to difference. No longer the iconic "Mother of Us All. BEAUVOIR'S T I M E / O U R T I M E There are significant disagreements among the authors I have discussed here about how to read Beauvoir. Beauvoir points us to an ethics and a politics that celehrate difference. toward a post-poststructuralism that reaffirms the importance for feminism of retrieving the lived experiences of emhodiment and of overcoming not only biological but also discursive forms of reductionism. . and she offers us resources with which to address the dangers of othering and saming. Taken together.306 Sonia Kmks difference into Otherness" (167). and they may also hecome reinscrihed within a politics of liheration (such as feminism) in which. Accordingly. Beauvoir speaks to the concerns of present-day feminism. Important responses to current questions ahout otherness and difference are already prefigured in her work. For Scarth. as well as differences in emphasis. or style." today the "Renaissance" Beauvoir has hecome a major theoretical source. Explicitly or implicitly then. they also reaffirm. Thus. of responsihility toward others and generosity. However. the importance for feminism of focusing (or refocusing) on ethics: on questions of freedom and agency. they point us beyond unmitigated poststructuralism. Each of these authors engages in a productive reading of Beauvoir and skillfully reinserts her as a significant interlocutor within current feminist dehates. as for other authors I have discussed. Scarth concludes that we may draw from Beauvoir's work a profound vision of an ethical political community. Such dynamics are integral to "imperialist" politics of all kinds. and of formulating an ethical feminist politics. What we also learn from these recent works is ahout the remarkable fecundity of Beauvoir's texts. stance. with Beauvoir. This is a community in which "receptive generosity-an openness to the foreignness of the other-[is] the guiding principle of our encounters with others" (171). we risk projecting sameness onto them and trying to make them like ourselves (169). She is a thinker with and through whom we may critically engage our own present. in the name of freeing others. what these recent treatments of Beauvoir have in common is their return to her work as a site at which we may address impasses that confront feminist theory today.
22-23. trans. "The Notorious Contradictions of Simone de Beauvoir. 1997). Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir (New York: New Press. Kristeva's talk. trans. A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren. New trench Feminism (New York: Schocken." was given at the Sorbonne in June 2003. which consists of interviews with French theorists-including Julia Kristeva.about their views of Beauvoir. 4. Cinquantenaire du Deuxieme sexe (Paris: Editions Syllepse. 277-78. esp.: C o r n e l l 8. 5i>mme de Beauvoir: Philosophy and Feminism (New York: Columbia University Press." 304-13. 2002). University Press. "Beauvoir presente. Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron. all in Feminist Studies 6 (Summer 1980). Feminist Theory and Simone de Beauvoir (Oxford: Blackwell. forthcoming in English as Beauvoir's Wartime Diary (Urbana: University of Illinois Press. chap. "Introduction: Debating Simone de Beauvoir. 6. N. 2006). and Catherine Rodgers. "Made in America: 'French Feminism' in Academia. juin-juillet 2002). Sarah Fishwick. Key works. 2 vols. in which I read Beauvoir with and against Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. include: Nancy Bauer. that I do not have space to discuss here.. 1998). "Women's Time.Y. 7. 1998). "Simone de Beauvoir and Existentialism. ed. Kate Leblanc. 1992). To give a sense of the extent of the "Renaissance." over the last decade more than a dozen monographs have been published in English (or translated into English) that address the interface between Beauvoir and feminist theory and/or feminist philosophy. ed. Preface. 1990). Sonia Kruks." Signs 1 (Autumn 1981): 13-35. Jo-Ann Fuchs. 5. 2001). Toril Moi. Penelope Deutscher. For a fine account of how "French feminism" came to be constituted as an intellectual genre in the United States-a genre that bore only a limited resemblance to what was actually going on among feminists in France at the time-see Claire Moses." 247-76. Christine Delphy. 1990). Michele Le Doeuff." Feminist Studies 24 (Summer 1998): 241-74. 9.. "Female Eroticism in The Secmd Sex. Julia Kristeva. and others. 2003). Mary Lowenthai Felstiner. Mary Dietz.Sonia Kmks 307 N O T E S 1. edited by Michel Kail. "Gender and Subjectivity: Simone de Beauvoir and Contemporary Feminism. Sarah Kofman. "Presences de Simone de Beauvoir". See esp." Signs 18 (Autumn 1992): 89-110. 3." in her Yielding Geraier (London: Routledge.1 have developed this argument more fully in Retrieving Experience: Subjectivity and Recognition in Feminist Politics (Ithaca. Michele Le Doeuff. The Body in the Work of Simone de Beauvoir (New York: Peter Lang. eds. youmal de guerre: septembre 1939-jamier 1941 (Paris: Gallimard.. 57. "Le deuxieme sexe" de Simmt de Beauvoir: Un Heritage amteste (Paris: L'Har- mattan. Quintin Hoare (New York: Arcade. Letters to Sartre. 2001). 169-93. These publications include Simone de Beauvoir. 245." 277-89. Papers from the 1999 conference are published in Christine Delphy and Sylvie Chaperon." Signs 18 (Autumn 1992): 78." It has since been published (in French) in Simone de Beauvoir Studies 20 (2003-2004): 11-22. 2. at the (first ever) joint meeting of the "Groupe d'etudes sartriennes" and the "International Simone de Beauvoir Society. 1981). 2. Miriam . "Seeing The Second Sex through the Second Wave. 92. Also of note is the recent special issue of Lcs Temps Modemes (vol.
: Gree wood Press. appearing in late 2005. and others founded in 1945. Identity without Selfhood: Simone de Beauvoir and Bisexuality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Feminism. Linda Schenk (Hanover. whose novel Native Son Beauvoir had read in 1940.M. was published in 2004. Simone de Beauvoir's Philosophy of Lived Experience: Literature and Metaphysics (Lanham. 1997). Diary of a Philosophy Student. For a sampling of further sources. with volume one. Simone de Beauvoir: Writing the Self—Philosophy Becomes Autobiography (Westport. extensive treatments of Beauvoir in more general books on feminist theory. Mass. L'Amerique au jour le jour (Paris: Morihien. Simons is editing a series of seven volumes. a bibliography of recent scholarship on Beauvoir may be found in The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir. 13. 1999).: Rowman & Littlefield. Knopf has never given permission for a new translation to be made. Translated by Carol Cosman as America Day by Day (Berkeley: University of California Press. H. 2 vols. includes a helpful annotated bibliography. Beauvoir's book was published in French as Le deuxieme sexe. Ursula Tidd. 10. Les Temps Modemes. Simone de Beauvoir. and Ursula Tidd. 1949) and was translated into English by the American biology professor. and Simone de Beauvoir (New York: St. see Toril Moi. Existentialism. Jo-Ann Pilardi. On the inadequacies ofthe translation see Margaret Simons.: Wesleyan University Press. Sartre. Conn. Eva Lundgren-Gothlin. Philosophy as Passion: The Thinking of Simone de Beauvoir (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 1989). Md. the radical monthly journal of politics and ideas that she. 1990). (Paris: Gallimard. and during his visit to Paris in 1946 a friendship began that was to last many years. There are also numerous articles. that will provide translations into English of all of Beauvoir's presently untranslated (and in some instances unpublished) works. Joseph Mahon. Kate Fullbrook and Edward Fullbrook." trans. 1996). 140." Signs 27 (Summer 2002): 1005-35. 1999). Emphasis added. "While We Wait: Notes on the English Translation of The Second Sex. published several translations of Wright's work (including Black Boy and various political pieces). 14. Martin's Press. The first volume. However. Simone de Beauvoi (New York: Routledge. Judith Butler. 1990). and Testimony (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sex and Existence: Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex. . forthcoming from University of Illinois Press. 5 of her Beauvoir and "The Second Sex. 1948). Simone de Beauvoir.H. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge. The Second Sex has been published in several editions. 1953). 1999). Gender. Simone de Beauvoir: A Critical Introduction (Maiden. and a growing number of "nonfeminist" discussions of her work within the disciplines of philosophy and French literature. Eleanore Holveck. 11. and extensively cut Beauvoir's text. 1926-1927.308 Sonia Kruks Fraser. Parshley (New York: Knopf. 2004). Parshley was not trained in philosophy. 1996). most recently in the United States with a new introduction by Deirdre Bair (New York: Vintage Books. reprinted as chap. 12." For a more recent treatment of this topic. Simone de Beauvoir: Philosophical Writings. had extensive contact with her in the postwar period. Richard Wright.: Polity Press. and the diary will be published in two volumes. "The Silencing of Simone de Beauvoir: Guess What's Missing from The Second Sex" (1983). and Karen Vintges. since 1995 there have been several introductory books designed for teaching purposes and at least eight edited volumes and special journal issues on Beauvoir. 2002). N. In addition. 1998). made many basic errors of translation.
16.1 elaborate the argument more fully in my Situation and Human Existence: Freedom Subjectivity and Society (London: Routledge. Her contribution to The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (New York: Verso. See Maurice Merleau-Ponty. "Beauvoir on Sade: Making Sexuality into an Ethic. It is striking that Butler has also dramatically shifted tone and preoccupations. 18. cited in Deutscher. she points out that "a concept ('man. Her recent book. see my essay." reviewed in this essay) is not unaware of the complex issue of transexuality as she makes this claim. Colin Smith (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. . "Simone de Beauvoir: Teaching Sartre about Freedom.Sonia Kruks 309 15. Gender. Hemaphroditism. 1962). dwells extensively on inner experience and on ethical questions that would be hard to accommodate within the framework of Gender Trouble. What Is a Woman' and Other Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press. transvestism. Yielding Gender. trans. . The term is Michele Le DoeufFs. . 173-74. 2004). 103: "Human existence will force us to revise our usual notion of necessity and contingency. and the Body: The Student Edition of "The Second Sex. 20. For the earliest treatment of the affinities between Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty. 19. 17. Moi's volume consists of a new preface and the two long essays that were previously published in her 1999 collection." is notably more sympathetic toward Beauvoir. 1990). Moi (in Sex. because it is the transformation of contingency into necessity by the act of repetition. However. but the concepts 'man' and woman' or the opposition between them are not thereby threatened by disintegration" (39).' 'woman') that is blurred at the edges is neither meaningless nor useless." We might also want to know whether this notion of repetition is significantly different from Butler's notion (in Gender Trouble) of gender as repetitive performance under duress-or whether perhaps Butler's notion is not more indebted to French existentialism than she acknowledges! . transsexuality. and so on show up the fuzziness at the edge of sexual difference." Simone de Beauvoir Studies 5 (1988): 74-80. Phenomenology of Perception. 1999).
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