Michael Daniel The Second Sex, Introduction and Chapter 2 10-31-2006 Woman exists and is feminine.

The feminine is defined as the opposite of the masculine. The feminine is therefore defined in its opposition to the masculine. The feminine is referred to here as the ‘other’. Women have always been subservient to men but this is not because they are a minority. The reason women have never challenged male superiority is because they have problems organizing themselves into a group that can challenge male dominance. The argument between feminism and anti-feminism is stuck in a rut. We should begin a new discussion that fully utilizes existentialism. Psychoanalysis studied female psychology from the perspective of male psychology and because of that it is inherently flawed. Psychoanalysis focuses on sexuality as the basis for all psychic life when sexuality is only one part of psychic life. In order to understand the mind we need to study the entire thing. Women should define themselves thru transcendence rather than continuing to define themselves as ‘other’. After ARQing this work I believe that the arguments it presents are sound. The issues and conclusions are clearly stated. All ambiguity is fully explained. In fact, I would say that ambiguity was used in an artful manner to make points in parts of the work in such a way that it strengthened the argument. i.e. the use of ‘other’ in the introduction. Value conflicts and assumptions were all spelled out clearly, the reasoning was good, and the evidence was solid and plentiful. I can’t think of any evidence or arguments that may have been omitted. I think that this is the most well written piece I have read in core so far this semester.

I enjoyed this reading. Sexism has deep roots and this reading addressed many of them. Over the past year or so I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to bigotry than I normally do. Here’s why: I grew up in a very white part of the country. My high school had a total of two black people in it so I wasn’t experienced with the problems with bigotry. In the book ‘Freakonomics’, I read about Ronald Fryer’s studies on black underachievement (Fryer is a well respected Harvard economist). One of the subjects that he studies is whether the stigma of ‘acting white’ may be a factor causing black underachievement. That idea opened my eyes to more subtle bigotry. Without reading that I would not have noticed what was happening at work: I was standing outside on a smoke break at Cingular. A picnic table full of women were chatting. I wasn’t part of the conversation but I overheard one of the women talking about how she had been passed over for a promotion again. She said that she was clearly overqualified for the promotion, but she said that she didn’t get it because the person who would be promoting her would be a woman and women don’t like to have other women in charge. I looked around the table and everybody was nodding in agreement with her. This came as a surprise to me. Either women treat each other differently at work to keep each other out of positions of power or the women at the table were attacking another women thru her gender. When this idea sank in fully I started trying to pay closer attention to how minorities treat each other. I’m not saying that we should blame minorities for the problems caused by bigotry but we need to be conscious of anything that keeps them in an inferior socio-economic situation so that someday we might be able to fix the problem.