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Midterm - Molly Shifrin Friday October 23rd 2009 PHL 355...

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Molly Shifrin Friday October 23 rd , 2009 PHL 355 Beauvoir; Question #2 For Simone de Beauvoir, it is not possible for one to be both a human being and a woman. To Beauvoir, the fact that the female gender must first state “I am a woman” before, or to clarify upon, “I am a human being” takes away from that subject’s connection to her humanity. She cannot declare that she is a human being and leave it at that because society will assume that she is the omniscient male. The female is “imprison[ed] in her sex”(3), having to identify with it first before she identifies with herself. It alienates the female both from her humanity and from herself. This is the ‘Othering’ that Beauvoir is so virulently opposed to throughout her entire book. For a human to be fully actualized, they must identify first with themselves before they identify with their gender. Women are kept from doing this, first having to identify themselves within their gender before being able to identify themselves as a human. When women are put in the position of female as opposed to male, they are the supposed other. Being the other takes away from women’s identity, forcing them below the group of fully actualized humans that are males. This brings up Beauvoir’s point that men are the only human beings that can fully reach their potential, not being blocked by the categories, stereotypes, and presuppositions that are attached to the female gender. When women try to achieve their goals as human beings, they are often stopped or hindered by their gender. A woman who tries to get the same position in a company as a man will not be taken as seriously, not paid as much, or not even given the chance. A female author won’t
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get published or won’t get the readers that a male author would. Beauvoir acknowledges these stereotypes and the way they have affected women throughout history, separating them further from their identity and the actualization of their humanity. Stereotypes such as women being inherently less intelligent than men have kept them from reaching for the lengths of what they are truly capable of. Because of this stereotype, for the longest time women couldn’t attend institutions of higher learning, something that Beauvoir would be very opposed to. If these stereotypes did not exist, women would not have to declare themselves as women and therefore be able to identify themselves as humans. A writer
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