Yes, a short text.
One time in grade eleven I almost read The Second Sex. Then I decided against it, partially because I didn’t want to read a huge book (yet I still borrowed it – I know), and also because I looked up the Parshley translation and found that it was widely criticized. Attempting to read the original was not an option either, for a few different reasons (some of those reasons produced in hindsight). We’re reading it now, though, and despite any misgivings, it is very compelling.
From the first page, de Beauvoir manages to nail down (in my estimation) the paradox of both deifying and demonizing femininity (which Jill talked about last lecture). There’s this bit:
“Is this attribute [femininity] something secreted by the ovaries?” (xli)
It’s just too similar to this, down to the word choice.
Also, since this text is so short, I’m rereading it now and picking up on things I didn’t notice before, like this:
“A man would never get the notion of writing a book on the peculiar situation of the human male.” (xliii)
Of course not, because “[i]f a woman writes about herself, she’s a narcissist. If a man does the same, he’s describing the human condition“. (Okay, so I read that first on Tumblr, but Emily Gould says it herself – she expects her audience to be people on that site.) The idea of writing about men is just writing about people. A few days ago, my sister and I were watching TV and in reference to The Mentalist, she asked why so many shows were like that. I presumed she meant, and I answered, that there are a lot of shows featuring a quirky main male character with a supporting cast. I mean, honestly (if you use “quirky” loosely): How I Met your Mother. Community (sort of, sort of). House. Sherlock. The Big Bang Theory (also sort of). Need I go on? Those are just the shows that I’ve watched appreciable portions of (figured that I should keep the complaining about shows I don’t watch to a minimum). There are more. Granted, there are also a lot of shows that feature a main female character with a supporting cast, but like it’s been said so many times before (and, forewarning, so much more elegantly), generally women are okay with reading/watching entertainment about men, but generally men are not as okay with reading/watching entertainment about women.
De Beauvoir also says this:
“The parallel drawn by Bebel between women and the proleteriat is valid in that neither ever formed a minority or a separate collective group of mankind.” (xlvii)
To comment on the idea that “women have never formed a separate collective group of mankind” – I feel like I’ve been trying to find a way to express that and de Beauvoir just went and did it.
I took way too long to write this. Thanks for reading everyone.
[Edit for clarification about the femininity paradox.]
[Second edit: here is a response to the article about boys in young adult literature. I read it before I read the original article, so I thought I should probably refer to it.]