These Simone de Beauvoir quotes about feminism, gender-stereotypes, and oppression will show you how far we’ve come in the last 70 years, and how far we still have to go.
Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris in 1908 and would grow up to be one of the world’s leading feminists, philosophers, and authors of the 20th century. Her book, The Second Sex, published in 1949 would become her masterpiece and would trigger a feminist movement still being recognized today.
Against the confines of marriage, de Beauvoir never married. However, she did enjoy a serious and committed open-relationship with fellow author and philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre (read our list of Jean-Paul Sartre quotes here), and had several other relationships during their time together.
During a period where women were expected to serve the men in their lives, Simone de Beauvoir championed ideals of feminism that were quite radical.
Her books, essays, and memoirs reflected views that were alternative to the status quo, and thus, she spearheaded a movement for change that would affect the lives of women for generations to come.
We hope you enjoy this collection of Simone de Beauvoir quotes.
Simone de Beauvoir quotes on feminism
1. “If the feminine issue is so absurd, is because the male’s arrogance made it a discussion.” — Simone de Beauvoir
2. “But women do not say ‘We’, except at some congress of feminists or similar formal demonstration; men say ‘women’, and women use the same word in referring to themselves.” — Simone de Beauvoir
3. “Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth.” — Simone de Beauvoir
4. “That the child is the supreme aim of a woman is a statement having precisely the value of an advertising slogan.” — Simone de Beauvoir
5. “If they want to flirt or initiate a friendship, they should carefully avoid giving the impression they are taking the initiative; men do not like tomboys, nor bluestockings, nor thinking women; too much audacity, culture, intelligence, or character frightens them.” — Simone de Beauvoir
6. “What would Prince Charming have for occupation if he had not to awaken the Sleeping beauty?” — Simone de Beauvoir
7. “In exchange for her liberty she has received the false treasures of her ‘femininity’.” — Simone de Beauvoir
8. “Women’s mutual understanding comes from the fact that they identify themselves with each other, but for the same reason each is against the others.” — Simone de Beauvoir
9. “Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.” — Simone de Beauvoir
10. “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” — Simone de Beauvoir
11. “To emancipate woman is to refuse to confine her to the relations she bears to man, not to deny them to her.” — Simone de Beauvoir
12. “Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.” — Simone de Beauvoir
13. “If I want to define myself, I first have to say, “I am a woman”; all other assertions will arise from this basic truth. A man never begins by positing himself as an individual of a certain sex: that he is a man is obvious.” — Simone de Beauvoir
14. “When we abolish the slavery of half of humanity, together with the whole system of hypocrisy that it implies, then the ‘division’ of humanity will reveal its genuine significance and the human couple will find its true form.” — Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir quotes about oppression
15. “The whole of feminine history has been man-made.” — Simone de Beauvoir
16. “Her wings are cut and then she is blamed for not knowing how to fly.” — Simone de Beauvoir
17. “To be feminine is to show oneself as weak, futile, passive, and docile.” — Simone de Beauvoir
18. “The girl is supposed not only to primp and dress herself up but also to repress her spontaneity and substitute for it the grace and charm she has been taught by her elder sisters.” — Simone de Beauvoir
19. “Any self-assertion will take away from her femininity and her seductiveness.” — Simone de Beauvoir
20. “All oppression creates a state of war. And this is no exception.” — Simone de Beauvoir
21. “No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility.” — Simone de Beauvoir
22. “One of the benefits that oppression secures for the oppressor is that the humblest among them feels superior.” — Simone de Beauvoir
23. “Woman is shut up in a kitchen or in a boudoir, and astonishment is expressed that her horizon is limited.” — Simone de Beauvoir
Empowering Simone de Beauvoir quotes
24. “It is perfectly natural for the future woman to feel indignant at the limitations posed upon her by her sex. The real question is not why she should reject them: the problem is rather to understand why she accepts them.” — Simone de Beauvoir
25. “In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.” — Simone de Beauvoir
26. “Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.” — Simone de Beauvoir
27. “Let but the future be opened to her, and she will no longer be compelled to linger in the present.” — Simone de Beauvoir
28. “I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely.” — Simone de Beauvoir
29. “Weakness’ is weakness only in light of the aims man sets for himself, the instruments at his disposal and the laws he imposes.” — Simone de Beauvoir
30. “The body is not a thing, it is a situation: it is our grasp on the world and our sketch of our project” — Simone de Beauvoir
31. “Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.” — Simone de Beauvoir
32. “One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation, compassion.” — Simone de Beauvoir
33. “That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” — Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir quotes on love and marriage
34. “On the day when it will be possible for a woman to love not in her weakness but in strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself — on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.” — Simone de Beauvoir
35. “The truth is that just as – biologically – males and females are never victims of one another but both victims of the species, so man and wife together undergo the oppression of an institution they did not create.” — Simone de Beauvoir
36. “If it is asserted that men oppress women, the husband is indignant; he feels that he is the one who is oppressed – and he is; but the fact is that it is the masculine code, it is the society developed by the males and in their interest, that has established woman’s situation in a form that is at present a source of torment for both sexes.” — Simone de Beauvoir
37. “The curse which lies upon marriage is that too often the individuals are joined in their weakness rather than in their strength, each asking from the other instead of finding pleasure in giving.” — Simone de Beauvoir
38. “To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job.” — Simone de Beauvoir
39. “She was ready to deny the existence of space and time rather than admit that love might not be eternal.” — Simone de Beauvoir
40. “Two separate beings, in different circumstances, face to face in freedom and seeking justification of their existence through one another, will always live an adventure full of risk and promise.” — Simone de Beauvoir
More Simone de Beauvoir quotes
41.“When I was a child, when I was an adolescent, books saved me from despair.” — Simone de Beauvoir
42.”It is difficult to get all that I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.” — Simone de Beauvoir
43. “It is not in giving life but in risking life that man is raised above the animal.” — Simone de Beauvoir
44.“One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius, and the feminine situation has up to the present rendered this becoming practically impossible.” — Simone de Beauvoir
45. “I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish.” — Simone de Beauvoir
46. “The body is the instrument of our hold on the world.” — Simone de Beauvoir
47. “I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life.” — Simone de Beauvoir
48. “Each of us is responsible for everything and to every human being.” — Simone de Beauvoir
49. “No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.” — Simone de Beauvoir
50. “Without a doubt, it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one’s liberation; the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.” — Simone de Beauvoir
Did you learn anything from these Simone de Beauvoir quotes?
The work of the feminist is long from complete. The world is steadily changing for the better and humanity is becoming more and more equal with every passing year. However, there are still many areas where feminists are still fighting the valiant fight for equality.
Although narrowing, there is still a pay gap between men and women. The gap is even larger between men and women in minority groups. Males still dominate in many industries with women being the minority in the government, news media, tech sector, executive suite, and science fields.
Also, did I mention the Pink Tax? On average women pay more than men on common household items like shampoo, socks, underwear, and deodorant. Many of these items, like razors, are exactly the same, but because one comes in a “feminine” pink package it costs more.
Simone de Beauvoir’s book, The Second Sex, became the feminist’s bible and thus she became an icon for the feminist movement. De Beauvoir sparked a conversation that would inspire change for a more equal world.
While a lot has changed since de Beauvoir’s time in the spotlight, there is still much more to be done. What can you do to help make the world a more equal place for all?
Did you enjoy these Simone de Beauvoir quotes and sayings? Which quote was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
January 1, 2021 7:00 AM EST