Friday, November 16, 2012

Quotes from The Second Sex

Some quotes from the Second Sex,* without comment:
In bourgeois society one of the roles assigned to woman is to make a good showing: her beauty, charm, intelligence, elegance are the outward and visible signs of her husband's wealth, as is the custom-built body of his car. If he is rich he covers her with fur and jewels; if not so rich he will boast of her morality and her housekeeping.
But a woman flatters not only man's social vanity; she is the source of a more intimate pride. He is delighted with his domination of her... the husband "forms" his wife not erotically alone, but also morally and intellectually; he educates her, marks her, sets his imprint upon her.

One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman... Only the intervention of someone else can establish and indiviual as an Other. In so far as he exists in and for himself, the child would hardly be able to think of himself as sexually differentiated... If, well before puberty and sometimes even from early infancy, she seems to us to be already sexually determined, this is not because mysterious instincts directly doom her to passivity coquetry, maternity; it is because the influence of others upon the child is a factor almost from the start, and thus she is indoctrinated with her vocation from her earliest years.
Thus the supreme necessity for woman is to charm a masculine heart; intrepid and adventurous tough they may be, it is the recompense to which all heroines aspire; and most often no quality is asked of them other than their beauty.

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