Simone de Beauvoir a.k.a. Castor

(January 9th, 1908 – April 14th, 1986)
In memoriam

It is her life, not only her work, that postulates Simone de Beauvoir as one of the most important feminist authors, activists, and champions of equal opportunity rights. After studying mathematics, she went on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne and started to develop her unique, innovative, and critically penetrating thought as an intellectual. It is not surprising, therefore, that de Beauvoir, who held her own within the male-oriented society, questioned why no one ever referred to Sartre as her appendage. This sexually attractive, spiritually strong, eccentric, unconventional, queer persona tasted life in order to put the existentialist concept of (non-)freedom and of the individual’s entrapment within the bourgeois order to the test. She drank life to the lees and finally collapsed of illness and alcohol. Her book The Second Sex (1949), the feminist bible, brought her worldly acclaim. “One is not born a woman, one becomes one,” she wrote therein and this recognition, supported by historical research and the evaluation of women’s status in contemporary society, directly countered both biological determinism and social constructivism. The strength of Simone de Beauvoir originates in her persistence on ambiguity and fragmentariness, since she perceives the feminine as neither a fixed and uniform subjective position, nor a constant transition in the movement along the signifying chain. Actively involved in the French Women’s Liberation Movement, de Beauvoir struggled to bring about improvements in the educational system as regards women and the status of women in society through the endorsement of abortion rights, equal pay, and the like.

Sifting through her philosophical analyses, novels, autobiographies, and correspondence reveals the richness of Castor’s theoretical thought and an active life outside the usual comfortable and secure family matrix. Already in her student years she acquired her lifelong nickname Castor, meaning ‘beaver’ in French. And Simone de Beauvoir (who would today be a hundred years old) worked as busily as a beaver.

Date and time of event: 
Jan 26th 12:08