The Second Sex

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The Second Sex audiobook

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Review #1

The Second Sex audiobook free

I believe that this book is even more timely and significant today, than ever before. Simone de Beauvoirs The Second Sex (originally published in 1949), is a groundbreaking study, that was clearly years ahead of its time (it still is), in providing a thorough and well-thought-out thesis, that examines what/who has shaped the role, place, and personality of Women in the world at large, from the ancient societies of Mesopotamia right down to the present time. Clearly, we already know the answer to that one! However, whats different about Simone de Beauvoirs tome, she doesnt let all the \”women\” off that easily, since she readily admits that not all \”men\” are responsible for the forced or assumed conditions of inferiority, mistreatment, injustice, inequality, etc., and all the other miseries that the \”men\” in \”charge of the world\” have imposed on women, and on other men for that matter. She also allots and assigns blame to the inactive, ignorant, narcissistic, and parasitic woman (her words), for not truly rising up against this system, and not just for women, but for all of humanity. Here are some excerpts that I found to be exceptionally important and relevant, and right-on-the-mark. From pages 381 382: \”The girls character and behavior express her situation: if it changes, the adolescent girls attitude also changes. Today, it is becoming possible for her to take her future in her hands, instead of putting it in those of the man. If she is absorbed by studies, sports, a professional training, or a social and political activity, she frees herself from the male obsession; she is less preoccupied by love and sexual conflicts. However, she has a harder time than the young man in accomplishing herself as an autonomous individual. I have said that neither her family nor customs assist her attempts. Besides, even if she chooses independence, she still makes a place in her life for the man, for love. She will often be afraid of missing her destiny as a woman if she gives herself over entirely to any undertaking. She does not admit this feeling to herself: but it is there, it distorts all her best efforts, it sets up limits. In any case, the woman who works wants to reconcile her success with purely feminine successes; that not only requires devoting considerable time to her appearance and beauty but also, what is more serious, implies that her vital interests are divided. Outside of his regular studies, the male student amuses himself by freely exercising his mind, and from there emerge his best discoveries; the womans daydreams are oriented in a different direction: she will think of her physical appearance, of man, of love, she will give the bare minimum to her studies to her career, whereas in these areas nothing is as necessary as the superfluous. It is not a question of mental weakness, of a lack of concentration, but of a split in her interests that do not coincide well. A vicious circle is knotted here: people are often surprised to see how easily a woman gives up music, studies, or a job as soon as she has found a husband; this is because she had committed too little of herself to her projects to derive benefit from their accomplishment. Everything converges to hold back her personal ambition while enormous social pressure encourages her to find a social position and justification in marriage. It is natural that she should not seek to create her place in this world by and for herself or that she should seek it timidly. As long as perfect economic equality is not realized in society and as long as customs allow the woman to profit as wife and mistress from the privileges held by certain men, the dream of passive success will be maintained in her and will hold back her own accomplishments.\” From page 612: \”Cinderella does not always dream of Prince Charming: husband or lover, she fears he may change into a tyrant; she prefers to dream of her own smiling face on a movie theater marquee. But it is more often thanks to her masculine protection that she will attain her goal; and it is men—husbands, lovers, suitors—who confirm her triumph by letting her share their fortune or their fame. It is this need to please another or a crowd that connects the movie star to the hetaera. They play a similar role in society: I will use the word \”hetaera\” to designate women who use not only their bodies but also their entire position as exploitable capital. Their attitude is very different from that of a creator who, transcending himself in a work, goes beyond the given and appeals to a freedom in others to whom he opens up the future; the hetaera does not uncover the world, she opens no road to human transcendence: on the contrary, she seeks to take possession of it for her profit; offering herself for the approval of her admirers, she does not disavow this passive femininity that dooms her to man: she endows it with a magic power that allows her to take males into the trap of her presence, and to feed herself on them; she engulfs them with herself in immanence.\” I couldnt have said it better myself! This is an amazingly accurate description of the endless parade of the interchangeable and artless \”scion\” of young women (and there\’s no shortage of men, that fit this bill too), produced by Hollywood and the music industry here in the US and abroad. Their only talent is \”self-aggrandizement\” and \”publicity\” thanks to the polluted world of social media. I could go on and on about this all-important work, that is not only relative to women or \”feminism,\” but encompasses something for all of humanity in general as well, men and women alike. Her words are truly eloquent and poetic too, made all the more so in this new edition and translation by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier (thank-you, both), a huge debt of appreciation and gratitude is owed to them. I can truly say that Simone de Beauvoir was one of the greatest minds of our time, and believe me, there arent that many anyway! She herself acknowledges in how there are very few truly \”great minds\” in Art/Science/history that were women (due to their social position in the \”hierarchy of man\”), let alone very few men, for that matter. But, she explains that this is not due to some natural predisposition or biological cause, but is the result of the \”man-made\” world we live in, that is then assisted and enabled by the weak, unaware, unknowing, and just plain ignorant men and women that are willing to play along with the charade! The Second Sex (hardcover) by Simone de Beauvoir, complete and unabridged for the first time. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2010. Love and Peace, Carlos Romero

 

Review #2

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I picked up this book because I wanted to read more female philosophers and because I enjoy the work of Simone de Beauvoir\’s compatriots Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The Second Sex is as thorough a description of the social inequalities forced upon women as you\’ll find, especially for the time period in which it was written. And the first third of this book is excellent. De Beauvoir draws from myriad sources to show how women have been viewed at different points in history and in different cultures and how those views evolved to create the mid-twentieth-century society in which she lived. The depth of her research alone is impressive, and the conclusions she draws from her vast readings are insightful and original and were probably ground-breaking in 1949. This depth of research is no less impressive in the second volume of the book, \”Lived Experience.\” But the passage of seventy years since the original publication is especially apparent in this section. Even setting aside de Beauvoir\’s outdated views on homosexuality and her conflation of homosexuality with intersexuality, the litany of questionable psychological interpretations is overwhelming. De Beauvoir devotes hundreds of pages to the psychological analysis of everything that could go wrong for women at every stage of their lives. She frequently cites psychoanalytical case studies of women suffering from various anxieties and neuroses related to their bad experiences with the male world. While her point may be that women are so affected by their unequal treatment that such diverse reactions occur, the breadth of these analyses overshadows the existence of many healthy, well-adjusted girls, wives, mothers and grandmothers, despite the social inequalities they face. The numerous case studies of what would seem to be rare cases also distract from the main issue that was so eloquently presented in the first volume: the fact that women are treated as inferior compared to men. The result is that most of the book was, for me, a slog through outdated information and questionable psychological assertions, such as the claim that morning sickness is a psychological, not a physical, response to pregnancy, or the assertion that many mothers advise their pregnant daughters to \”provoke a miscarriage, not to breast-feed the child [after birth], or to rid herself of it\” (p. 632). It is especially confounding that many of the psychological interpretations that de Beauvoir cites were made by male practitioners, a potential bias that de Beauvoir never questions. The concluding section, which suggests how men and women could make themselves social equals, is more engaging and further demonstrates de Beauvoir\’s persuasive writing and keen intellect. It is a shame more space was not devoted to these ideas.

 

Review #3

Audiobook The Second Sex by Constance Borde Sheila Malovany-Chevallier Simone de Beauvoir

Read this as a philosophy graduate student for fun with an amazing group of men and women. I echo the sentiment that it should be required reading for ALL adult humans in the 21st century, if only to gain a better understanding of how gender constructs have been so woven into our collective experience for so long, and why they need to be demolished. Are there better constructed arguments in existence? Yes. But that doesn\’t diminish the lasting contribution that this piece of literature has made to humanity, nor how revolutionary and ground breaking it is. So ahead of its time. It is also filled with wry humor, which is rare for a philosophical text, and even rarer for that humor to stand up nearly 70 years later. Is it going to be difficult for some readers to get through? Yes. It is intellectually demanding. But then again, so is being a contributing participant of society. It is worth your investment. I recommend reading it with a diverse reading group and discussing each chapter in person each week, over beverages.

 

Review #4

Audio The Second Sex narrated by Ellen Archer Judith Thurman

This should be a must-read for any woman starting out on adult life, because it clearly lays out the forks in the road we will experience, and explores the human condition of half the population with a relatively objective eye. I found it stunningly relevant today, to my life, as a professional woman in technology.

 

Review #5

Free audio The Second Sex – in the audio player below

The content of the book is simply amazing – de Beauvoir is eloquent and articulate. However, the issues I have with the book are that of print quality. I bought this book for my university course – and have had to spend a lot of time deciphering the first word of each line of the text on the left-hand page because it is not printed properly. It becomes very frustrating and tiring. The difficulty of reading a book should be in the comprehension of the presentation and exploration of complex ideas – not trying to work out what the ink on the page says. I am thoroughly disappointed with the print quality of the text; particularly when the content of the text is so beautiful.

 

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