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date: 25 September 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Simone de Beauvoir’s 1949 masterpiece, The Second Sex, is rarely considered a canonical text worthy of being studied within the history of political thought. Even within feminist scholarship, although it is often cited or acknowledged, only short excerpts, usually the introduction, are read carefully. This essay argues that the reception of The Second Sex has been marred by overly emotional and ambivalent responses, in part a result of its literary style. The Second Sex is written as a situated dramaturgical staging of conversation. Beauvoir puts men into conversation about women in Volume I and invites women into conversation with each other about their experiences in Volume II. These literary techniques invite readers of The Second Sex to also participate in the conversation, a conversation Beauvoir hopes will change the way we see and talk about sexual difference, conditions of oppression, and how to enlarge the space for freedom.

Keywords: The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, feminism, political theory, affect, political conversation, politics, authority

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