I started reading Simone de Beauvior’s The Second Sex a little while ago. I have such a huge list of reading to catch up on the feminist world for this blog that it seems a little intimidating sometimes. I find it difficult to read the larger books and not feel the need to point out some “Aha!” moment sometimes. With The Feminine Mystique it was her research through women’s magazines that had really drawn me in. I remember standing by the register at Target shortly thereafter and looking at the magazines there and all the things they say. Of course, not all the magazines by the check out counter are for women, nor are they the top women’s issues magazines, but it seemed telling of our present view on women that the magazines geared towards us were still obsessed with appearance.
In The Second Sex, I am enthralled by the history. She seems to have really taken some time to comb through the laws of several groups throughout history and explore the rights of women. The French culture of her time was obviously very different from the culture we experience in the US today, so some of the interpretations are more pronounced than we might see from a modern writer, but her research was done on a very large scale. I found it most interesting to see that women have previously enjoyed many of the rights and privileges that we have today, except the right to work the way it stands. I thought it was most interesting that she takes the time to point out the difference between the aristocracy and the general public. The peasantry didn’t have the luxury of non-working women, it appears. The aristocracy, on the other hand, didn’t have the option to work and therefore suffered under the husband’s dominion.
That may not be the most historically accurate way to put it, but it is the interpretation I am getting from this book specifically. It’s very interesting. Part one was a little difficult to work through, all medical stuff broken down into different animals and where women fell in the spectrum of humanity. I’ve flown through Part Two so far because the historical aspect is incredibly interesting and her delivery is well done. I’m glad that I have been fortunate enough to read the full translation, as well. I understand that the original translation was done by men during the feminine mystique era, and it was shortened considerably. I look forward to finishing.
What do you think the chances are that are rights and privileges will disappear again?