Simone de Beauvoir
Encouraged by the successful strategy and tactics of the civil rights and antiwar movements, a new assertiveness also marked the drive for women’s rights after the conclusion of the Second World War. A leading voice in the movement for women’s freedoms was that of a leading French philosopher and intellectual, Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986). Her lengthy, detailed, and compelling study of The Second Sex, published in 1949, challenged women to take action on their own behalf in order to gain full equality with their male counterparts. Her analysis traced the origins of sexism and a sense of women’s inferiority to the unique circumstances of girlhood and to society’s instilling of “feminine” characteristics within young women. Only by breaking the barriers of societal expectations for “well-bred young girls,” she argued, could women achieve the goal of true and complete equality with men.
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, translated and edited by H. M. Parshley, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953, pp. 334–336.