Simone de Beauvoir on why women must reject the ‘feminine’ to become free and equal

Who’s to say what makes a woman ‘womanly’? In her book The Second Sex (1949), the French existentialist writer and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir argued that femininity isn’t innate, but instead foisted upon females from birth. According to de Beauvoir, by pressuring women to conform to male stereotypes of beauty, patriarchal societies have subjugated women, robbing them of their autonomy and objectifying them in ways that belittle their abilities and their intellect. De Beauvoir’s existentialism, however, offered a way out: women are free, she wrote, to reject male views on how they should look and behave, and doing so allows them to become more equal.

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