Inventing The Myth of Womanhood…….French Style!

 

The whole “woman” thing can best be summed up by of all people, Simone De Beauvoir when she said

“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”

From: The Second Sex – Simone De Beauvoir 1949.

Ok – I took this quote from Spark Notes, it explains what De Beauvoir means by this most famous of all feminist quotations, and it must said, the core essential belief that underpins where feminism and feminists derive their “ideology” from.

Now don’t be scared, we’re not going to get all deep thinky and existentialist here, will leave that up to those poor tortured souls who basically drove themselves around the bend contemplating the meaning of life, the universe, and everything  – mostly by indulging themselves in convoluted egotistical highfalutin exercises in turgid, verbose and complicated mental navel gazing.

The more incomprehensible, convoluted and abstract the better – the less likely one is able to comprehend whatever the hell these “deep thinkers” are on about, the more “intellectual” and “groundbreaking” and “insightful” they are – apparently.

Personally, I have a simple gauge for measuring how deep thinky and actually insightful something is – if it gives me a headache trying to disentangle and comprehend and distill some useful meaning from it, then it is high class bullshit – it is an exercise in mental masturbation, and intellectual and philosophical showing off.

Anyhoo – this is what Spark Notes says about that quote to end all quotes that literally sparked (no pun intended) the emergence of second wave feminism.

“This, the opening line of Book II, is de Beauvoir’s most famous statement. It represents the logical continuation of the proofs de Beauvoir offers in Book I to support her argument that femininity does not arise from differences in biology, psychology, or intellect. Rather, femininity is a construction of civilization, a reflection not of “essential” differences in men and women but of differences in their situation.

Situation determines character, not the other way around. Woman is not born fully formed; she is gradually shaped by her upbringing. Biology does not determine what makes a woman a woman—a woman learns her role from man and others in society.

Woman is not born passive, secondary, and nonessential, but all the forces in the external world have conspired to make her so. Every individual self, regardless of gender, is entitled to subjectivity; it is only outside forces that have conspired to rob woman of this right. Destiny is not a cosmic force but a human choice, the result of culture and circumstance.”

In a nutshell, the experience, the essence, of being female is imposed from the outside.  In an argument that decries a “system” that forces a supposedly sentient human being into becoming “passive, secondary, and nonessential”, De Beauvoir actually determines that women ARE passive, secondary, and nonessential. Think about it; if this human being is born and allegedly has none of these attributes, then surely this non passive individual can determine for herself, how SHE will be, how SHE negotiates the circumstances of her own life?

The most asinine statement of this “analysis” is this one;

“Situation determines character, not the other way around”.

Really? A woman is a blank slate, an inanimate object, a chameleon that takes on the character and form of whatever surrounds her? Again, how does this correlate to the contention that women are not born “passive, secondary, and nonessential” when apparently they are in fact so passive, so non sentient, so blank that their characters, that essential multilayered, interconnected set of personality traits, tastes, desires and inner moral and ethical compass, that informs our “characters” is so obviously missing – from women?

Perhaps the piece de resistance of this analysis is this:

“…..only outside forces that have conspired to rob woman of this right. Destiny is not a cosmic force but a human choice, the result of culture and circumstance.”

What “right” is De Beauvoir talking about here? This one.

“Every individual self, regardless of gender, is entitled to subjectivity;”

The right to reflect subjectively on the circumstances of one’s own existence, the right to think about yourself, your life, your situation? – one does have to ask, bearing in mind De Beauvoir wrote this in 1949, was there some technology, some secret unrevealed device in existence in 1949 that prevented or could prevent women from thinking their own thoughts?  Some mind control machine of exquisite genius, and nefarious patriarchal construction that literally rendered women incapable of sentience? Because that is the only explanation that would make this contention have any sense at all – and if she is indeed correct, then I’ll buy shares in the company that makes these devices.

One thing in this statement is unequivocally true:

“Destiny is not a cosmic force but a human choice, the result of culture and circumstance.”

If by destiny one means the path that one treads through the days months and years of one’s life, with each step being determined by the CHOICES that one makes, then it is quite correct to state that each step is influenced and as  “the result of culture and circumstance” what De Beauvoir and her acolytes have very carefully tippy toed around, and continue to this day to do, is construct a narrative, a philosophy, an ideology that makes “making choices” for women a movable feast, a convenient garment that one can chose to wear one day and discard the next, if the circumstances that prevail at any particular moment in time mean appearing “choiceless” will absolve one from any repercussions, any responsibility, any accountability for “making a choice”

Feminism is not a philosophy that grounds itself in moral or ethical considerations emanating from within an individual woman, that would require an ideology that evolved organically from a bedrock of principles – principles like – justice, integrity, truth, accountability, self determination and self-ownership, all concepts that would require women to actually BE sentient and self aware human beings.

So, when De Beauvoir says that “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” she is in fact correct – for all the wrong reasons – cutting through the thicket of tortuous philosophising about “femininity” and the “experience of being a woman” that she attempts to use to camouflage the real message if you will, the “message” is actually quite simple.

That message is that “woman” is whatever women say it is, and what they say it is, is determined by what is “fashionable” what will absolve women from the consequences of “non-choice” choices they make, what will work to allow “women” to avoid being pinned down to give any explanation for their actions, their motives, their behaviours, from an ethical, truthful and accountable perspective. Ever.

“Woman” as I posited above is a movable feast, every day, for a lot of women is an adventure in deciding what KIND of “woman” I’m going to be today – the ultimate purpose of constructing this ever changing entity known as “woman” is to put enough ethical, moral and philosophical distance from much harder questions about what it is to be a Human Being, in a world of Human Beings as possible, and therefore, avoid discussions about what kind of Human Being am I?

From: Bergoffen, Debra, “Simone de Beauvoir“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),

“Taken within the context of the feminist movement, The Second Sex was an event. It opened the way for the consciousness-raising that characterized second wave feminism; it validated women’s experiences of injustice; and it provided a program for liberation.”

It was indeed “an event” it handed those pioneers a device for constructing an ideology that would give substance and form to a movement that had at its core a message of female supremacy, of femaleness being a unique and superior type of humanity and of course the patina, the illusion of a deeply philosophical and deep thinky imprimatur, after all Simone De Beauvoir was not only French, not only a “philosopher” but a French FEMALE philosopher, pontificating about the existential nature and cosmic significance of “being female” of being a “woman”

My favourite bit of the above quote is;

“….it validated women’s experiences of injustice; and it provided a program for liberation.”

Sigh – when, in the history of humanity has it required any “event” to allow women to either talk about, write about, form groups about or simply shut up about their “experiences of injustice”?

ANY set of circumstances that either prevented women from, or created an obstacle to women doing, whatever the hell they wanted has ever been perceived as “an injustice” up to and including being punished for murder, for acts of infanticide, for fraud, for cruelty, go take a look at Robert St. Estephe’s site, The Unknown History of MISANDRY, for an eye-opening look at the many faces of “woman”.

 

 

© Anja Eriud 2014.

Advertisements

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Daniel
    Feb 06, 2014 @ 20:16:21

    “Destiny is not a cosmic force but a human choice, the result of culture and circumstance”… but doesn’t that mean it is not a human choice at all?

    “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” …. this is equally valid to boys becoming men, non of us are born men or women, we all “become” men or women. So on the insight scale, it has non, it is a statement off something we all already know and is not challenged.

    As for the comment “I think I might be a ……. misogynist”. Misogyny seem to have evolved as a term to mean, looking at and valuing real proof and reality in general, true equality without diminishing the importance of other peoples problems, not needing to have the group at fault punished to anywhere close the degree feminists do, to treat women as agents in their own lives… as equal adults. So misogyny seems, according to feminists, to be fair and balanced and call out injustice.

    Reply

  2. Russell
    Feb 06, 2014 @ 23:22:45

    Right on Anja. De Beauvoir’s statement that:

    “Woman is not born passive, secondary, and nonessential, but all the forces in the external world have conspired to make her so.”

    Does seems to be a contradiction; and in contradiction to her blank state view that women are made, not born. Very well analyzed Anja!

    AVfM currently has a front page piece by Alain Soral on Feminism. Another philosopher who claims De Beauvoir was a fraud.

    Reply

  3. Daniel
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 01:54:09

    nicely put russell.

    Reply

  4. Greg Allan
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 06:57:12

    “Woman is not born passive, secondary, and nonessential, but all the forces in the external world have conspired to make her so.”

    I need to reframe this thusly…
    “Woman is not born passive, secondary, and nonessential, but all the forces in the external world have enabled her to be so.”

    Reply

    • Daniel
      Feb 07, 2014 @ 13:26:00

      “enabled”…. so it is a decision to be passive, secondary and nonessential.

      Reply

    • Anja Eriud
      Feb 07, 2014 @ 15:46:51

      Perhaps Greg,

      Her observations of “all the forces in the external world” lead her to conclude that APPEARING “passive, secondary, and nonessential” is a way of exercising covert social, cultural, and personal power within her relationships?

      Anja 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: