“In writing ‘The Second Sex’ I became aware, for the first time, that I myself was leading a false life, or rather, that I was profiting from this male-oriented society without even knowing it. What had happened is that quite early in my life I had accepted the male values, and was living accordingly”.
“I tended to scorn the kind of woman who felt incapable, financially or spiritually, to show her independence from men. In effect, I was thinking, without even saying it to myself, “if I can, so can they”. In researching and writing ‘The Second Sex’ I did come to realize that my privileges were the result of my having abdicated, in some crucial respects at least, my womanhood”.
“Through ‘The Second Sex’ I became aware of the struggle needed. I understood that the vast majority of women simply did not have the choices that I had had, that women are, in fact, defined and treated as a second sex by a male-oriented society whose structure would totally collapses if that orientation was genuinely destroyed. But economically and politically dominated peoples anywhere, it is very hard and very slow for rebellion to develop. First, such peoples have to become aware of that domination. Then they have to believe in their own strength to change it. Those who profit from their “collaboration” have to understand the nature of their betrayal. And finally, those who have the most to lose from taking a stand, that is, women like me who have carved out a successful sinecure or career, have to be willing to risk insecurity in order to gain self-respect. And they have to understand that those of their sisters who are most exploited will be last to join them”.
“Having understood that capitalism leads necessarily to domination of poor people all over the world, masses of women began to join the class struggle – even if they did not accept the term “class struggle”. They became activists. They joined the marches, the demonstrations, the campaigns, the underground groups, the militant left. They fought, as much as any man, for a nonexploiting, nonalienating future. But what happened? In the groups or organizations they joined, they discovered that they were just as much a second sex as in the society they wanted to overturn”.
Simone de Beauvoir in Society, 1976