One of the main ideas in “The Second Sex” by Simon de Beauvoir, is that, “One is not born a woman, one becomes one”.
In fact, as a woman, she explains how several factors impact the definition including society. From the text, she describes how society created a creature in all its essence, withoutregarding any actual psychological, economic, or biological facts. In addition, she described how through childhood, gender is created by the actions of those around us and not by anything innate or within a woman’s essence. For instance, she describes the concept of the “Eternal femininity”, where a child gets ‘manufactured’ into becoming a ‘woman’ by the interventions of those around them. To begin with both boys and girls are born with the same interests and needs to, feel kindness, be fed, and live in warmness as they were treated in the dark small womb.
When they grow older they discover and apprehend the world by their senses and not by their sexual parts. Until the age of twelve, the girl is as strong as the boy, and has the same mental power, she is not yet underestimated or oppressed. However, after that, bit by bit, both girls and boys start to distinguish themselves from one another and they no longer are surrounded by the sheltered maternal flesh. However, while girls and boys do not differentiate themselves before the age of about 12, they are constantly treated differently by society. This goes back as early as breastfeeding, where mothers treat both babies differently. Boys are encouraged to be aggressive while girls are encouraged to be calm. When the boy gets older and starts making attempts, for example, to be independent, or insolent, or to play tricks, he is found amusing, therefore reinforcing his behavior. A girl, however, isforced to be quiet and keep her place, or punished otherwise.
Also, girlsare taught to conceal their emotions and not show anything but modesty, thereby being conditioned to adhere to a constructed behavior, unlike boys, who are raised to be exhibitionists, sitting and moving the way they want. When we ask ourselves about the biological differences, of course, they play a significant role, but the emphasis placed on these differences, and the importance they take on, come from the social context around them, as de Beauvoir states.Of course the fact that the woman is the one that gets pregnant and has childrenis important, however it cannot justify the difference in status or the exploitation and oppression which women are constantly objected to. It is the pretext around which the feminine condition is built, but it is not what determines this condition.
Not surprisingly, often times it is women who are responsible for the discrimination. Being daughters of women, they maintain the tradition because this feminine model is deeply implanted in them. They think that a woman who does not behave in the same way as them is a monster, their main concern is raising daughters to be feminine. So yes, women play a huge role in oppressing themselves, but the cause is from the pressure imposed on them by men, who taught women to be: dependent, passive, submissive and self-affecting.All this oppression is also caused by the unfair economic situation between men and women. From very recent time, the girl is pressured to look her best and be pretty, desirable enough to men, in order to ensure financial support throughmarriage or any other way.
She is financially dependent, because men have all the jobs, especially the most interesting ones. Men sought to persuade women not to be financially independent and rely on a husband and confine themselves to do what is very important for civilization, housework.Housework is a forced labor, unpaid, unsalaried which allows them to be maintained more or less in luxury or in poverty depending on their husbands, but no economic grains are produced, and recognized contribution. Enjoying some civil liberties such as the right to vote has always been theoretical as long as the woman is not economically independent. As long as she is relying on a man, she will never win her liberty. The only way to become independent is by gaining a productive employment to fill the gap between her and a man. On finding herself nonproductive in life, she tries to find a meaning for her presence through love, religion, narcissism, etc.
She tasted and tested her abilities and responsibilities when she becomes active and productive in work. When she earns money, respect, self-dependence, she make herself be recognized and eliminate her current status as an object or subject. According to Simon de Beauvoir in the “Second Sex”, she states a scene she witnessed of a woman, while scrubbing the floor of an hotel lobby, saying that she never asks for anything from anyone; she always was sufficient for herself and did everything in life on her own. Women should act in a reasonable and natural manner to achieve equality. Sine when they do not do so, or when they take it in a tension way, they, unconsciously, start to lose control and want to take revenge from men and try to show off in a masculine shoes. Talking becomes a habit instead of listening, and appears in an awkward image, in trial to prove herself equal to a man. Acting this way, irritates men more than taking them down.
Unfortunately, all what required from her is to attract a masculine heart, and nothing is asked from her except for being beautiful and desirable. At the end of the day, the violent daily routine succeeds to deprive the mother from her prestige. She is the one who always weeps, sacrifices, waits, complains, and creates drama.
Thus, she is looked down to the extent that her daughter does not want to be like her. Of course this will happen when she find her mother lacks ambitions, dreams, and any sort of life. The daughter instead tries to run after all women examples who escaped from this path, achieving the most beautiful part of the dream by being, actress, singer, adventurer, sports coach, teacher, writer, etc. According to statics made by Havellock Ellis, between one hundred boys, only one boy wished to be a girl, while greater than 75% of girls would love to be boys. On asking them on the reasons, they said that their mothers could have loved them more, they would not be afraid of boys, they would have more liberty, they can have funnier games and jobs, they would not be overwhelmed by clothes restrictions anymore, etc.
In our contemporary Egypt, all what Simon de Bouviore argued about has a link. In Egypt, girls and women are always oppressed and looked down. No girls are allowed to stay outside for a late hour, or people will think of her badly.
Women are not allowed to take high and ranked jobs; Egypt cannot have a woman president. In general, they are not engaged in politics as men are. Moreover, most Egyptians, especially in the upper Egypt, think that girls were born for the sole purpose of getting married; they got married, or forced to, in a very young age which sometimes is 12 or 13. Also, if she reaches a late age without getting married, people think that there is something wrong with her, and starting hurting her in all possible means till she hates herself and hates looking in people`s faces. Regarding the part of manufacturing a woman from the childhood, this is extremely true.
In all toys shops, we find there is a separate section for girls with a pink dominating color. The two main options are Barbie dolls and cooking Barbie. The girl is getting used to have a doll from a very young age which implants in her the way she will raise a baby later. She makes her doll the whole world to her, sleeping with her, making her hair, seeing herself in her. Besides, cooking Barbie toysimplant in them the life-sentence housework that they will be living later all their lives. On the other hand, we find the opposite section for boys` toys. In this section, we find guns, superheroes toys, cars, and many other examples that implant in him the masculine and domination position.
Woman has not the right to divorce; if her life becomes miserable and her husband is no more caring and loving, she cannot get herself out of this mess except by the court`s help, in contrast to man who can threat her every minute when he likes to. If a man and a woman had pre-marriage sex, and she got pregnant, she may, literally, be killed without thinking, however, no blame on man because he is a MAN who can do whatever he wants. Driving in Egypt is another example of inequality; women have been always underestimated and thought to be not skillful at all. In every time there is a car blocking the road, any man says it should be a woman, for sure. Overall, Egypt has many aspects of inequality between men and women, but women should resist and revolt for their liberty, as Simon de Beauvoir suggests. Instead of Resisting, Reject the Society Values that Made Men More Desirable, and do not settle for less.