simone de beauvoirThe Second Sex T R A N S L A T E D B Y C O N S T A N C E B O R D E A N D S H E I L A M A L O V A N Y - C H E V A L L I E R With an Introduction by Judith Thurman A L F R E D A . K N O P F | N E W Y O R K 2 0 1 0 HUMBER LIBRARIES NORTH CAMPUS 205 Humber CoJIege Blvd y TORONTO, ON. M9W 5L7 '
C H A P T E R 1 2 The Woman in Love The word "love" has not at all the same meaning for both sexes, and this is a source of the grave misunderstandings that separate them. Byron rightly said that love is merely an occupation in the life of the man, while it is life itself for the woman. The same idea is expressed by Nietzsche inThe Gay Science.The same word "love," he says, means, in fact, two different things for the man and for the woman: What woman means by love is clear enough: total devotion (not mere surrender) with soul and body, without any consideration or reserve . . . In this absence of conditions her love is a faith; woman has no otherfaith}Man, when he loves a woman,wants2precisely this love from her and is thus himself as far as can be from the presupposition of feminine love. Supposing, however, that there should also be men to whom the desire for total devotion is not alien; well, then they simply are not men. Men might be passionate lovers at certain moments of their existence, but there is not one who could be defined as "a man in love"; in their most violent passions, they never abandon themselves completely; even if they fall on their knees before their mistresses, they still wish to possess them, annex them; at the heart of their lives, they remain sovereign subjects; the woman they love is merely one value among others; they want to integrate her into their existence, not submerge their entire existence in her. By con-trast, love for the woman is a total abdication for the benefit of a master. Cecile Sauvage writes: "When the woman loves, she must forget her own personality. This is a law of nature. A woman does not exist without a master. Without a master, she is a scattered bouquet." 1. Nietzsche's emphasis. 2. Also Nietzsche's emphasis. 6 8 3
6 8 4 I L I V E D E X P E R I E N C E In reality, this has nothing to do with a law of nature. It is the differ-ence in their situations that is reflected in the conceptions man and woman have of love. The individual who is a subject, who is himself, endeavors to extend his grasp on the world if he has the generous inclination for tran-scendence: he is ambitious, he acts. But an inessential being cannot discover the absolute in the heart of his subjectivity; a being doomed to immanence could not realize himself in his acts. Closed off in the sphere of the relative, destined for the male from her earliest childhood, used to seeing him as a sovereign, with whom equality is not permitted, the woman who has not suppressed her claim to be human will dream of surpassing her being toward one of those superior beings, of becoming one, of fusing with the sovereign subject; there is no other way out for her than losing herself body and soul in the one designated to her as the absolute, as the essential.