Existentialist and philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir once stated, “One is not born, but rather becomes a woman.” This could possibly be a simple call to feminism, upon a society which denied the rights and freedom of women; In fact, living in an early age of the 1940’s, Beauvoir was the strong, resisting voice that was greatly needed in a time of disparity, and hunger for something more than a weak, feminine label. Yet, through the history of feminism and the fights they implored upon society, Beauvoir’s statement is still true and applicable to this very day.
Much of society still treats women as though they were delicate fragments in the tapestry of humanity, with absolutely no intellectual capacity to gain a little more respect and opportunity to show the world what they are capable of pursuing or achieving. Now this may sound absurd due to the fact that there are so many women out there who have surpassed a great number of men in achieving some of the most admirable and dedicated tasks the world sometimes demands. Yet, women are forced into being the supposed feminine gender of society, simply by their situation and justification.
Women are the bearers of children; the caring and hard-working wives that men expect them to be; the walking morality the world needs, but may not see; the held-together-by-a-single-strand-of-confidence beings fighting against the inconceivable world of the media and how it views women. Therefore, how can women possibly be something other than what the world has chose them to be? Their role in society is not a choice, but a justification of their situation and place in this world. In fact, men are what define women. In her book, The Second Sex, Beauvoir explains that women are the “other” and men are the “self,” meaning that without men, women are not able to define themselves, because in essence, women are “the incidental, the inessential–as opposed to the essential.”
Now most people may claim that we cannot fully integrate both genders into an absolute and equal status, simply because of the obvious biological differences. However, women aren’t classified as the subordinate of men because of their biological differences, since they aren’t facts made by an observer, but rather facts defined from a situation. Unfortunately, this is misinterpreted, taken into account and made out to be the justification for why women hold the role that they do. So is existentialism really a possible attitude for women to posses? How can they possibly hold their position to be self-determining, responsible rulers of their choices, when society has already placed their definition and role as women?
With this restrain set grudgingly upon the lives of women, it seems ingenuous to think that women do have a choice against their femininity in society. The choice to not be seen as the reproductive and only form of continuation for the existence of human beings, may not be strong; but the summoning choice of undeniable possibilities, the choice to fight, can only get stronger. Thus, if the battle of feminism for freedom and choice continues to uphold in today’s society, as it did in the past and will go on through future generations, she can truly say one is not born, but rather becomes a woman of choice.