Simone de Beauvoir

09/01/2012 § Leave a comment

La dispute durera tant que les hommes et les femmes ne se reconnaîtront pas comme des semblables, c’est-à-dire tant que se perpétuera la féminité en tant que telle; des uns et des autres qui est le plus acharné à la maintenir ? la femme qui s’en affranchit veut néanmoins en conserver les prérogatives ; et l’homme réclame qu’alors elle en assume les limitations. «Il est plus facile d’accuser un sexe que d’en excuser l’autre» dit Montaigne. Distribuer des blâmes et des satisfecit est vain. En vérité, si le cercle vicieux est ici si difficile à briser, c’est que les deux sexes sont chacun victimes à la fois de l’autre et de soi; entre deux adversaires s’affrontant dans leur pure liberté, un accord pourrait aisément s’établir: d’autant que cette guerre ne profite à personne; mais la complexité de toute cette affaire provient de ce que chaque camp est complice de son ennemi; la femme poursuit son rêve de démission, l’homme son rêve d’aliénation; l’inauthenticité ne paie pas: chacun s’en prend à l’autre du malheur qu’ils s’est attiré en cédant aux tentations de la facilité; ce que l’homme et le femme haïssent l’un chez l’autre, c’est l’échec éclatant de sa propre mauvaise foi et de sa propre lâcheté.

The quarrel will go on as long as men and women fail to recognise each other as equals; that is to say, as long as femininity is perpetuated as such. Which sex is the more eager to maintain it? Woman, who is being emancipated from it, wishes none the less to retain its privileges; and man, in that case, wants her to assume its limitations. ‘It is easier to accuse one sex than to excuse the other,’ says Montaigne. It is vain to apportion praise and blame. The truth is that if the vicious circle is so hard to break, it is because the two sexes are each the victim at once of the other and of itself. Between two adversaries confronting each other in their pure liberty, an agreement could be easily reached: the more so as the war profits neither. But the complexity of the whole affair derives from the fact that each camp is giving aid and comfort to the enemy; woman is pursuing a dream of submission, man a dream of identification. Want of authenticity does not pay: each blames the other for the unhappiness he or she has incurred in yielding to the temptations of the easy way; what man and woman loathe in each other is the shattering frustration of each one’s own bad faith and baseness.

From the conclusion of The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, 9th January 1908-14th April 1986. Trans. H.M. Parshley.

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