Thursday, June 26, 2008

On ne naît pas femme: on le devient.

Regardless of your views on the politics and philosophies of Simone de Beauvoir, you have to hand it to the lady; she lived one hell of a life.

Born in 1908, the centenary of her birth is being celebrated in France with a new documentary that airs tonight called, 'Je veux tout la vie', which features a host of writers, philosophers and historians commemorating her life and work, and in particular, Le Deuxième Sexe.

When presented with this text back at university, as a naive 19-year old, I thought, 'What's all the fuss about?'. She seemed to have lived a very unhappy life, flitting in and out of unsatisfactory relationships, and the one relationship she did stay in for 51 years was the one that gave her the most pain. 'How is that feminism?', I couldn't help thinking back then. Couple the 'feminism' tag with the 'existentilism' tag and you have yourself one very confused 19-year old.

If you felt overwhelmed by Simone back at university as I did, maybe I should nudge you back to the bookshelf and encourage you to take another look. At my ripe old age of 35 now, there are a few things that make more sense to me. And as a precursor to the likes of Gertrude Stein, Madonna and Hillary Clinton, there is still alot of respect due to Mme de Beauvoir.

I'll leave you with a quote of hers, which gave the title to this new documentary:*

"Je veux tout de la vie, être une femme et aussi un homme, avoir beaucoup d’amis, et aussi la solitude, travailler énormément, écrire de bons livres, et aussi voyager, m’amuser, être égoïste et aussi généreuse… Vous voyez, ce n’est pas facile d’avoir tout ce que je veux. Or quand je n’y parviens pas, ça me rend folle de colère."

Simone de Beauvoir, Lettre à Nelson Algren 3 juillet 1947.

Loosely translated:

I want it all, to be a woman, as well as a man, to have lots of friends but also solitude, work hard, write good books, but also to travel, have fun, be selfish and generous. You see, it's not easy having everything I want. And when I can't have it, I get crazy with anger.

I think this very well sums up women of today, n'est-ce pas?


bizibee said...

...spent hours reading her in parks and cafes all over the place (london, boston, paris..) and one of my favourite ever books is 'she came to stay'. don't suppose they'll do an english version of the docu. carol x

miss tango said...

i think ¡this is how i feel today. simone and carla have similar facial characteristics don´t you think¿