SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR
* 9th January 1908 in Paris, today France
† 14th April 1986 in Paris, today France
Simone-Lucie-Ernestine-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir was a French author, philosopher, and feminist. She was a proponent of Existentialist philosophy. Her most famous work The Second Sex is still a milestone of women’s literature. In her book, she calls for radical changes to society and the end to male dominance (patriarchy).
The term patriarchy refers to a society in which political, social, economic, and social power belongs to men. This structure of ‘male domination and oppression of women‘ leads to exploitation as well as direct and symbolic violence towards women. Women could only described as “the other“ in distinction from the dominant man. Her book is considered the basis for the second wave of feminism which began in 1968. De Beauvoirs‘ comprehensive cultural and sociological essay on the position of women in a male dominated world is deemed the most radical and visionary contribution to the emancipation of women in the 20th century.
De Beauvoir and her partner, the writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, were inseparable. She rejected Sartre’s proposal to marry, however, as she had an aversion to the institution of marriage. She saw it as a restriction and interference of the state in private matters. De Beauvoir and Sartre agreed to a permanent arrangement, in which each kept their independence as well as being completely equal partners. This partnership, which was based on full equality in work and life, became a symbol for „free love“.
After de Beauvoirs‘ death, her Letters to Sartre were published. In these, she speaks openly about her sexual relations with both men and women. Simone de Beauvoir was bisexual.