Simone de Beauvoir’s Introduction to The Second Sex

Jill Fellows’ lectures on Simone de Beauvoir’s “Introduction” to _The Second Sex_ for ArtOne, edited and elaborated upon by Dr. Alfonso.


Jill Fellows’ lectures on Simone de Beauvoir’s “Introduction” to The Second Sex, edited and elaborated upon by me (Dr. Rita Alfonso). In this lecture, Fellows sets out the context for the work — Beauvoir’s family life, early days at La Sorbone, her relationship to Jean Paul Sartre, and the backdrop of World War II (which had just ended when Beauvoir published her work in 1949). She then traces some of the major themes of the work as presented in the “Introduction,” explaining what Beauvoir meant when she wrote that Woman is Other, and that “one is not born but becomes a woman.”

I offer additional comments about the philosophical ideas being deployed in this text, as well as my own commentary. And I invite you to consider your own starting point with the question of woman, and to further your understanding here.

This lecture series is a great introduction to Beauvoir’s work, existentialism, and some of the major tenets of Second Wave feminism.


The videos that comprise this series are used under the Creative Commons license with attribution. Here is the original source for the lecture:

Course Curriculum

What Is A Woman? That Is the (Ontological) Question 00:02:00
From Family Life To A Political Lifeworld 00:06:00
Studying Philosophy at La Sorbone 00:03:00
The Second Sex
Publication Details 00:02:00
Woman As Other 00:03:00
Identity Through Opposition 00:02:00
Hegel’s Master/Slave Dialectic 00:07:00
The Naturalization Of Sexual Difference 00:02:00
Why Have Women Always Been the Other? 00:03:00
One Is Not Born, But Becomes A Woman 00:02:00

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