Iconic and Controversial

simone-de-beauvoirOne of the most controversial women of the century, essayist, novelist, and philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir has changed millions of women’s lives, awakening us all to the mystique of being a woman by authoring her most famous work The Second Sex.  Though Simone, herself, was uninterested in being a mother, she had become known as “the mother to us all.”

She “was the vanguard of French intellectual life for nearly forty years,” and became notoriously “the most public sinner in all of France.”  Her life-long unmarried relationship with existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was the source of this.  “After we had decided what our relationship was to be, we were both embarrassed that we had even briefly considered the most bourgeois of institutions, marriage, to be the answer,” Beauvoir recalled.  Ah, yet another marriage without papers.

Beauvoir and Sartre were known as “the writing couple” who were together nearly every day, at work at separate desks or cafe tables…

Beauvoir and Sartre

Together they participated in rallies, visited heads of state on almost every continent, exchanging ideas with the greatest artists and writers of their era. 

Simone has become the ultimate feminist icon, always “deeply committed to her work yet always ready to put Sartre’s first.”  She had other love affairs on the side, both male and female, to which much criticism has been raised, and one longer ill-fated relationship with American writer Nelson Algren, to whom she wrote many love letters.  She always insisted that their relationship would go no further, for her committment to Sartre and his intellect was undeniable, even though her affair with Algren was physically satisfying. 

I had always thought of Simone de Beauvoir as this great, scary woman, independent of men, though not a hater of men (as some feminists have become), but one who sincerely did not need a man.  Yet, in reading her biography, I find that most of her financial “freedom” came out of Sartre’s open pocketbook.  Curious…isn’t it.   For a most admired feminist icon, she was surrounded by many men, the key to which, I feel, was their respect for her as an equal of intellect, and a contemporary in philosophic thought with all life matters.

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5 Responses to “Iconic and Controversial”

  1. to be honest it sounds to me like she wasn’t a feminist at all. people may have just percieved her that way. maybe i’m wrong though

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  2. Sarcastic Bastard Says:

    I wish I could be the most public sinner in all of France. Damn. That’s really great. Good for her!

    Love you Jenn,

    SB

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  3. Lisa Chapman Says:

    Jenn,

    I love the pic of her surrounded by books – that’s me, trying to read my way out! I think she was an interesting woman – I have a book of letters between her and Nelson Algren on the shelf but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Nice post Jenn,

    Love, Lis

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  4. ucu agustin Says:

    one not born a woman… she said…

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  5. Debra McGrath Says:

    what is a feminist..are you saing she was not because her man supported her..in those days womens income was even less than is (compares to a man’s) than it is today, and it ie still not equal.

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