Simone de Beauvoir (January 9, 1908 - April 14, 1986), French author, philosopher, feminist.
Born Simone Lucie-Ernestine-Marie-Bertrand de Beauvoir in Paris, France, she studied at the Sorbonne where she met lifelong companion Jean-Paul Sartre. In 1981 she wrote A Farewell to Sartre (La Cérémonie des adieux), a painful account of Sartre's last years.
She has come to be seen as the mother of post-1968 feminism, with philosophical writings linked to Sartrian existentialism. She is best known for her work The Second Sex (Le Deuxième Sexe, 1949) which contained detailed analysis of women's oppression.
In The Second Sex, she ascribes women's oppression mainly to the essential sexual differences between men and women, and how they experience gender; how the eye of the other (l’autre) falls. However in the existentialist school of thought ‘essence does not precede existence’, hence ‘[o]ne is not born, but rather becomes, a woman’.
One of her most interesting arguments is that, throughout history, women have been considered the deviation, the abnormality. Even Mary Wollstonecraft considers men to be the ideal which women should aspire to be. Simone de Beauvoir says this has held back women. It has maintained the perception that women are a deviation from the normal, that they are outsiders attempting to emulate normality. She says that, for feminism to move forward, they need to break out of this assumption.
Other major works: She Came to Stay (L'Invitée, 1943); Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (Memoires d'une jeune fille rangée, 1958).
Simone de Beauvoir died on April 14, 1986 and was interred in Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris, France.