17 Feminist Quotes from The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir (1908 – 1986) was a French author, existential philosopher, political activist, feminist, and social theorist. Her most enduring work, The Second Sex (1949) is still read and studied as an essential manifesto on women’s oppression and liberation.

Filled with ideas considered radical at the time it was published, the book made her an intellectual force to be reckoned with, and inspired a generation of women to shake up the status quo. Here are quotes from The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir that will make you question how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go.


“It is perfectly natural for the future woman to feel indignant at the limitations posed upon her by her sex. The real question is not why she should reject them: the problem is rather to understand why she accepts them.” 

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“Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth.”

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Jean-Paul Sartre & Simone de Beauvoir

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“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”

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“The whole of feminine history has been man-made. Just as in America there is no Negro problem, but rather a white problem; just as anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, it is our problem; so the woman problem has always been a man problem.”

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“Her wings are cut and then she is blamed for not knowing how to fly.” 

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“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation, compassion.”

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“In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.”

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The second sex by Simone de Beauvoir

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir on Amazon

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“When we abolish the slavery of half of humanity, together with the whole system of hypocrisy that it implies, then the ‘division’ of humanity will reveal its genuine significance and the human couple will find its true form.”

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“All oppression creates a state of war. And this is no exception.”

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“The curse which lies upon marriage is that too often the individuals are joined in their weakness rather than in their strength, each asking from the other instead of finding pleasure in giving.”

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“Men do not like tomboys, nor bluestockings, nor thinking women; too much audacity, culture, intelligence, or character frightens them.”

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The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir — a review

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“One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius; and the feminine situation has up to the present rendered this becoming practically impossible.”

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“To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job.”

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“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”

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“On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself — on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.”

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Simone de Beauvoir quote

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“No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility.”

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“Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.”

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“Without a doubt it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one’s liberation; the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.” 

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“I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.”

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Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir

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3 Responses to “17 Feminist Quotes from The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir”

  1. Simone’s writing is just as relevant today as it ever was, spanning across time and nations. Everyone, male and female, needs to be exposed to her work. Because no matter how far you think we’ve come, it’s not far enough.

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