Monday, February 7, 2011
Be specific, narrow, interesting, suggest your argument
Exposition of views, arguments, concepts discussed, support arguments, objections,
Simone de Beauvoir
Feminism was self-defeating.
“Existence precedes essence” – Gives a defining characteristic about who you are. Born
with these characteristics, not an accident who you are
We are born free – ‘Radical Freedom’ – free to manipulate within your own
‘Bad Faith’ – When we have faith in what people tell us who we are
Making an existentialist effort in exposing bad faith in our lives.
“What peculiarly signalizes the situation of woman is that she- a free and autonomous
being like all human creatures – nevertheless find herself living in a world where men
compel her to assume the status of Other. (p.577)
• Points out as women are judges – judged comparatively to men
• Points to a cultural influence
“If there should be men who also felt that desire for complete abandonment, upon my
word, they would not be men” (Nietzsche in de Beauvoir, p.577)
• Loses the comfort and safety of coming home
• Cultural restrictions on masculinity – very way which we act/let ourselves feel
As existentialists conceive – making someone into an “Other” is the worst thing you can
do. They become an object instead of a human being.
Women’s choices have been constrained, don’t get respect for making choices, rather, making choices in light of their man; a loss of autonomy. A specific objectification; by
telling people who they are or should be, we are making them objects.
“The fact is that we have nothing to do here with laws of nature…” (p.578)
• We experience love and intimacy in different ways.
• Women’s role is impossible to be in because it’s impossible to escape “Other”
• Differences imposed by society – constraints imposed by expectations of society.
Internalized feelings become important
“What a woman wants in the first place is to serve” (p.581)
• “Justified” – if I can’t make choices in an autonomous way, existentialism says
you’re living in bad faith
• Women see freedom through marriage
• Generalizing through cultural attitudes
• Not only are the choices of men restricted, our own attractions are being defined
by cultural expectations. Culture says we should desire certain characteristics (ex.
Women look for freedom, men looking for unconditional love)
“An authentic love should assume the contingence of the other…”
• If we’re autonomous, we can have authentic love
• Women have unrealistic expectations
• A good relationship would be an inter-relation. Neither would depend upon the
other for freedom or salvation. Neither would have to be radically free all the
• Scruton says we can’t shake contingencies. Gender has implications for who we
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
De Beauvoir Cont’d
• Authentic love = interrelation between individuals who are independently
autonomous and free BUT
o Gender in its current formation denies women freedom of choice and self;
o So women seek salvation [takes away from the authentic experience]
through relations with men, who have freedom of choice and self;
o And men see women as ‘other’ than themselves and not as ‘like’ them
(free selves), so they possess women as objects;
o So love is experienced differently by men [possess the object] and women
[seek salvation] and authentically by neither gender Gender prevent authentic love from occurring:
• It prevents us from being authentic humans (radically free – make own choices,
not determined by existence)
• It prevents us from loving authentically (interrelating as autonomous individuals)
“Genuine love ought to be founded on the mutual recognition of two liberties; the lowers
would then experience themselves both as self and as other…” (p.585)
• Equally recognizing each other’s potential to be free
• Take the experience of women being ‘other’ – internalizes it so both sides can see
the picture. “I see myself in you and you in myself.”
• Effect of having an equal experience of love – depict a world of equality among
individuals, not just gender. No boundaries – existentialism, everything else is
contingent, to be changed.
• Ex. If we go to the animal kingdom, gender isn’t displayed the way it is in
humans. We see our own biases – we see females acting like females because it is
taken from the human and applied to animals
o De Beauvoir – we can change; animals can’t.
o Concepts of gender aren’t static – could have changed naturally
o Does not follow from the shapes or capacities from ones body does not
limit socially speaking. When we look at the constraints the world puts on
us, we have the same potential as every other human beings.
o Gender isn’t natural – created as human beings
Without gender, authentic sexual experience cannot occur:
• Gender explains our sexuality (homosexuality is attraction to the same gender)*
o Tying sex and gender together
• Sexual experience is a gendered experience (human experience is of
o When we have sex, we have sex as genders with genders
• *Gender is explained by our sexuality and sexual experience (who we are when
we do it)