Paradoxes of femininity in the philosophy of Simone de beauvoir

Continental Philosophy Review 43 (1):39-60 (2010)
This article explicates the meaning of the paradox from the perspective of sexual difference, as articulated by Simone de Beauvoir. I claim that the self, the other, and their becoming are sexed in Beauvoir’s early literary writing before the question of sexual difference is posed in The Second Sex (1949). In particular, Beauvoir’s description of Françoise’s subjective becoming in the novel She Came to Stay (1943) anticipates her later systematic description of ‘the woman in love’. In addition, I argue that the different existential types appearing at the end of The Second Sex (the narcissist, the woman in love, the mystic, and the independent woman) are variations of a specific feminine, historically changing paradox of subjectivity. According to this paradox, women, in a different mode than men, must become what they ontologically “are”: beings of change and self-transcendence that have to realise the human condition in their concrete, singular lives. My interpretation draws on Kierkegaardian philosophy of existence, phenomenology, and early psychoanalysis.
Keywords Simone de Beauvoir  Paradox  Subjective becoming  Femininity  Narcissism  Love
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-010-9134-9
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