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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.
An unvarnished, poetic account of a new mother’s struggle to breastfeed
Why making if-then connections might be the key to consciousness
Thinkers and theories
Bernard Williams on Descartes’s audacious endeavour to prove knowledge is possible
The cast of ‘misfit toys’ who keep life on an idyllic tourist island afloat
Ageing and death
When his elderly parents make a suicide pact, Doron struggles to accept their choice
Biography and memoir
What Akiko saw at the centre of the Hiroshima blast, and the indelible mark it left
Yes, the Inuit have dozens of words for snow – but what does each one mean exactly?
Technology and the self
One woman prepares for the risky solitude of Georgia O’Keeffe’s American West
History of science
How one of history’s most beautiful books was used to find fate in the cosmos