What is a woman, and who is asking anyway? Simone de Beauvoir
in Beginning classical social theory
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Although society maintains that ‘woman is always woman’, it also complains that ‘woman is losing her ways’. Apparently not every female human being is a woman – the latter requires possession of a mysterious something called ‘femininity’. In The Second Sex (1949), one of the emblematic texts of the feminist tradition, Simone de Beauvoir argues that ‘civilization as a whole’ produces ‘woman’. To be this or that means to have become, though, and thus not necessarily to remain, this or that. One must actively become what society has set out in advance, and thereby one may also change it (sometimes more, sometimes less).

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