Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October 11 - Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir

One of the world's most famous and lasting feminist writers, Simone de Beauvoir is best known for her 1949 philosophical treatise The Second Sex, now recognized as the starting point of second-wave feminism for its portrayal of female oppression throughout history and its call to action for gender equality. Her thoughts and writing were greatly influenced by her lifelong partnership with another renowned philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre (notably, they never legally married, despite being together for over 50 years). Among her more well-known ideas was one that "existence precedes essence," meaning one is not born a woman but rather becomes one, an idea adopted since by many transgender individuals. In addition to her philosophical and existential writings, de Beauvoir also published novels, short stories, and travelogues, but she was also infamous after her death for her scandalous personal life, brought to light in a 1994 memoir of a former student, Bianca Lamblin, who alleged affairs with both de Beauvoir and Sartre when she was their student. Prior to that, de Beauvoir had been suspended for allegedly seducing a teenage girl, also her student (though there is an argument that can be made that the suspension was based on sexual discrimination). Later in their relationship, de Beauvoir and Sartre developed what they called the "trio," in which they would invite a third person, typically a student, into their couple. She remained politically active up until her death in 1986, and her feminist teachings continue to be employed in universities worldwide.

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