Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir

Selected by Baseera Khan (A '14)

I was really having a hard time choosing what to read from Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir. Choosing Simone was a direct reaction to the discussion that we had at our first meeting of the semester last Friday, September 30th. 

We circled around these questions:
What is queer, and what does queering look like? 
Why do the defining terms so quickly grab at gender binaries? 
What of intersex, or plurality, or transgressive and dissent activities that place our bodies at risk politically for other reasons? 

I'd like to carry this thread into this Friday.


It is most appropriate to revisit Simone's written Introduction and her section on Justifications: Chapter 11's The Narcissist


I also think we should go and see at least one of the shows listed below.

Because Skowhegan has so generously dedicated space for Ellen Cantor's work it could be fruitful to view some of her stuff. A film "Are you Ready for Love", and photography is showing at the 80WE NYU Gallery, or view a painting and pornography legal-view-rights exhibition of Ellen Cantor's at Participant Inc, Lovely Girls Emotions, or view her "Be My Baby" film and documentation show at Foxy Production (which I haven't seen yet). 

If it is possible for you to also view the Maccarone exhibition "25 Years of Sexually x-Plicit Art by Women." this will be very beneficial too.


Some of us have read her, and some of us have read her, but let's really read her and be critical and aware of her limitations. Let's be aware of the time in which she wrote this book. It was originally in 1949 in French and translated to English much later. To add to its legibility it wasn't translated by cisgendered women until much much later. This copy of the book is translated by femme editors. 

Also, race, class, and gender issues in her work are handy-capped, I want us to proceed with a conversation that complicates her views, but also values what her views have morphed into at a time when we can have open intersectional conversations about race class and gender and still want to see each other the next day.

To become woman is to become the absolute other. What I chose alienates maleness, and alienates me as well because I have many problems with "white-feminism." Though to enter into any academic conversation about gender and identity, is to walk through a portal of great writers such as Simone De Beauvoir. She really was dedicated to re-training society - to shed social conventions - to grasp at freedom - for this cognitive behavioral analysis I thank her greatly. We should all try to become woman, to become the absolute other.

The Intro discusses how marginality is aligned, statistically termed, and grouped by: religion, economy, geography, and ethnicity - leaving woman-sufferage in too large of a state with too many variables to create solidarity. 

I also choose for us to read Chapter 11's The Narcissist because it embodies more of what we discussed last time with regards to non/appropriation, coping mechanisms, and statistics of oppression with regards to trans, same sex, cis-gendered body politics and its futures. 

I know this is coming at you Sunday afternoon, if you do not have time to do a deep reading of all the pages, please skim, and then focus in on a few pages that speak to you. I would really like to unpack this reading with you all. Lastly, out of all the shows, I'd really like to talk about the Foxy Production exhibition, and the show at Macarone (if you had to choose).

Let's gather at the offices of Skowhegan on Friday 14th, at 6:30PM, bring snacks! it would be nice to eat some things while we talk. The meetings usually end past 9pm and before we leave the group we appoint the next organizer for the readings for next session. 

The in(queery) reading encourages sharing, no interruptions, no talk-hogging, and love.