Al doilea sex, de Simone de Beauvoir (citate)

Al doilea sexThe Second Sex, traducere de Constance Borde și Sheila Malovany-ChevallierVintage, 2011

Despre Al doilea sex am mai povestit eu pe scurt mai demult, când mă minunam de complexitatea și amploarea studiului făcut de Simone de Beauvoir, care îmbină noțiuni de biologie, sociologie, filosofie, istorie etc., în încercarea de a contura un portret al femeii de-a lungul timpului și de a identifica motivele pentru care aceasta a tot fost considerată „al doilea sex”. Cele peste 800 de pagini pline de informații și cugetări promiteau descoperiri și revelații nebănuite, așa că îmi propusesem să le savurez în doze mici.

Ei bine, au fost atât de mici încât nu am avansat prea mult de atunci, tot pe la pagina 200 am rămas, dar mă gândesc că, dacă preiau aici câteva citate, poate asta mă stimulează să reiau lectura (sigur, după ce termin cele 800 de pagini pe care le citesc acum). Sau poate trezesc interesul altcuiva, care o termină de citit înaintea mea și mă face de rușine. Oricum ar fi, nu strică. Să purcedem, așadar!

Psychoanalysts in particular define man as a human being and woman as a female: every time she acts like a human being, the woman is said to be imitating the male. The psychoanalyst describes the child and the young girl as required to identify with the father and the mother, torn between “viriloid” and “feminine” tendencies, whereas we conceive her as hesitating between the role of object, of Other that is proposed to her and her claim for freedom;
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But many primitives are unaware of the father’s role in the procreation of children, who are thought to be the reincarnation of ancestral larvae floating around certain trees, certain rocks, in certain sacred places, and descending into the woman’s body; in some cases, they believe she must not be a virgin if this infiltration is to take place; but other peoples believe that it also takes place through the nostrils or mouth; at any rate, defloration is secondary here, and for mystical reasons the prerogative is rarely the husband’s. The mother is clearly necessary for the birth of the child; she is the one who keeps and nourishes the germ within her, and so the life of the clan is propagated in the visible world through her. This is how she finds herself playing the principal role. Very often, children belong to their mother’s clan, bear her name, and share her rights, particularly the use of the land belonging to the clan. So communal property is transmitted through women: through them the fields and their harvests are reserved to members of the clan, and inversely it is through their mothers that members are destined to a given piece of land. The land can thus be considered as mystically belonging to women: their hold on the soil and its fruits is both religious and legal.

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Engels; the passage from matriarchy to patriarchy seems to him to be “the great historical defeat of the feminine sex.” But in reality this golden age of Woman is only a myth.
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(…) there was massive infanticide among Arabs: as soon as they were born, girls were thrown into ditches. Accepting a female child is an act of generosity on the father’s part; the woman enters such societies only through a kind of grace bestowed on her, and not legitimately like males. In any case, the stain of birth is far more serious for the mother when a girl is born: among Hebrews, Leviticus demands twice as much cleansing as for a newborn boy. In societies where “blood money” exists, only a small sum is required when the victim is of the feminine sex: her value compared with a male’s is like a slave’s with a free man’s. When she is a young girl, the father has total power over her; on her marriage he transmits it entirely to her spouse. Since she is his property like the slave, the beast of burden, or the thing, it is natural for a man to have as many wives as he wishes; only economic reasons put limits on polygamy; the husband can disown his wives at whim, and society barely accords them any guarantees. In return, woman is subjected to rigorous chastity.
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As long as private property lasts, conjugal infidelity on the part of a woman is considered a crime of high treason. All codes up to our time have perpetuated inequality in issues concerning adultery, arguing the seriousness of the fault committed by the woman who might bring an illegitimate child into the family. And though the right to take the law into one’s own hands has been abolished since Augustus, the Napoleonic Code still holds out the promise of the jury’s leniency for a husband who avenges himself.

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In Paris, loose women worked in pens where they arrived in the morning and left after the curfew had tolled; they lived on special streets and did not have the right to stray, and in most other cities brothels were outside town walls. Like Jews, they had to wear distinctive signs on their clothes. In France the most common one was a specific-colored aglet hung on the shoulder; silk, fur, and honest women’s apparel were often prohibited. They were by law taxed with infamy, had no recourse whatsoever to the police and the courts, and could be thrown out of their lodgings on a neighbor’s simple claim. For most of them, life was difficult and wretched. Some were closed up in public houses.
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This is the first time a woman takes up her pen to defend her sex: Christine de Pizan attacks the clerics energetically in The Epistle to the God of Love.

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a hitherto unknown species appears: the actress. The presence of a woman onstage is noted for the first time in 1545; in 1592 there is still only one; at the beginning of the seventeenth century most of them are actors’ wives; they then become more and more independent both onstage and in their private lives.
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It is easier to put people in chains than to remove them if the chains bring prestige, said George Bernard Shaw. The bourgeois woman clings to the chains because she clings to her class privileges. It is drilled into her and she believes that women’s liberation would weaken bourgeois society; liberated from the male, she would be condemned to work; while she might regret having her rights to private property subordinated to her husband’s, she would deplore even more having this property abolished; she feels no solidarity with working-class women: she feels closer to her husband than to a woman textile worker. She makes his interests her own.

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“In Lyon,” writes Blanqui, “in the trimmings workshops, some women are obliged to work almost hanging in a kind of harness in order to use both their feet and hands.” In 1831, silk workers work in the summer from as early as three o’clock in the morning to eleven at night, or seventeen hours a day,* “in often unhealthy workshops where sunlight never enters,” says Norbert Truquin. “Half of the young girls develop consumption before the end of their apprenticeship. When they complain they are accused of dissimulating.” In addition, the male assistants take advantage of the young women workers.

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