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On ne naît pas femme: on le devientThe Life of a Sentence$
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Bonnie Mann and Martina Ferrari

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190608811

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190608811.001.0001

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The Second Sex of Consciousness

The Second Sex of Consciousness

A New Temporality and Ontology for Beauvoir’s “Becoming a Woman”

Chapter:
(p.231) 12 The Second Sex of Consciousness
Source:
On ne naît pas femme: on le devient
Author(s):

Jennifer McWeeny

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190608811.003.0013

Although Beauvoir’s notion of becoming a woman is frequently understood as a gradual and protracted process, Beauvoir also explicitly sees it as a brutal, immediate, and definitive transition. This alternative temporality becomes clear when we attend to Beauvoir’s repeated use of the reflexive verb se faire (to make oneself) throughout The Second Sex. In assuming the attitude of se faire objet (making oneself an object), a girl transforms the structure of her prereflective consciousness from a child’s consciousness where her body is at the center of her subjectivity to a double, divided consciousness that is both her own and the conduit for another’s desires. This opens a new ontology of sexual difference. Being a woman is not about taking on a construct, set of performances, or sexual style, but assuming a secondary perspectival configuration of prereflective consciousness that makes such styles and performances possible.

Keywords:   The Second Sex, ontology, sexual difference, prereflective consciousness, se faire objet, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty

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