French writer and existential philosopher who wrote The Second Sex—a book on the role of role of women and ‘otherness’ in history and society
Simone de Beauvoir was a French writer and feminist who was born in a bourgeois and Christian family in Paris, although she became an atheist when she was a teenager. She studied philosophy at Sorbonne University, where she met the man who she would be with until his death, the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
She participated in the ideological debates of her times and she helped found the magazine called Modern Times (Les Temps Modernes in French) hand by hand with Sartre, Albert Camus and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. This magazine gathered the thoughts of different thinkers of the time on different topics.
She wrote many books and essays, from which The Second Sex (1949) stood out and became a classical masterpiece of contemporary thinking. At first it was criticized but many years after being published, it became a symbol of feminism. In The Second Sex, she talks about women’s conditions, such as how they had always been oppressed by men. She analysed gender from different perspectives, destroyed feminine myths and encouraged women to look for freedom.
In her first novel, She Came to Say (1943), she describes the open relationship between a man and a woman, where another woman is part of that couple’s love life. This novel is based on her life, by which she was very criticized. She and Sartre had a relationship based on respect and freedom, and marriage was never discussed. Simone has always been very open-minded for her age and for the period in history she lived in.
She always fought for human rights and she became an icon of feminism.