Literature Study GuidesThe Second SexVolume 2 Part 2 Chapter 7 Summary

The Second Sex | Study Guide

Simone de Beauvoir

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The Second Sex | Volume 2, Part 2, Chapter 7 : Lived Experience (Situation) | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 7, titled "Social Life," examines the ways in which the family is connected to a larger community, usually a group "socially similar to themselves." Although the man in the family is connected to the community because he is a producer and a citizen, it is the wife who assumes the social duties.

Clothing, household furnishings, and elegant parties present public statements about the family, its wealth, taste, and social status. Friendships among women, born in this situation, present opportunities for complicity. Affirmation of their common universe is sought in the exchange of recipes and household hints. They often share sexual secrets, tales of adultery, and admissions of frigidity that negate male sexual domination. Affirmation of their beauty and elegance is sought in their wardrobes and in their extravagant parties. These women are joined in their objectification, and gather to construct a counter-universe, and a specifically feminine moral code.

Analysis

Here the woman's adultery—an emphasis in this chapter—is a cheap thrill, a confirmation of the objectification of the woman with no less emotional impact than the acquisition of a designer handbag. The fact that she performs this objectification on another—even if her lover is a man, does not give her the status of subject. As Beauvoir concludes, as long as "this equality is not ... recognized ... it is ... difficult for ... woman to act ... equal to ... man."

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