50 phrases by Simone de Beauvoir to understand her thinking
Although throughout history feminism has been present in a number of people who have defended equal rights, it was not until the 19th and early 20th centuries that it began to spread and bring about real changes in society, such as the right to vote or access to education or the world of work.
There were many people who caused the arrival of modern feminism and its evolution to the present situation. One of the most iconic people linked to its evolution is Simone de Beauvoir, a philosopher and writer who fought to denounce the situation of inequality between women and men and who is considered one of the precursors of contemporary feminism.
In this article you can find 50 sentences by Simone de Beauvoir that will help you to reach a better understanding of her thinking.
50 quotes from Simone de Beauvoir
Below you can see a selection of sentences by Simone de Beauvoir, ideal to understand her way of conceiving feminism and politics .
1. I would like every human life to be pure and transparent freedom
In this sentence the author reflects her hope that the human being can be free.
2. Knowing yourself is no guarantee of happiness, but you are on the side of happiness and can give us the courage to fight for it
Knowing ourselves lets us know who we are and what we want, giving us a goal to fight for and try to be happy.
3. The secret of happiness in love consists less in being blind than in closing your eyes when you need to
For the author love is not idolizing the other person and not seeing any fault or error, but being able to love the other person considering that the faults are there.
4. Between two individuals harmony is never given, but must be conquered indefinitely
Maintaining a relationship, whatever type of bond we are talking about, is a constant effort to keep it alive.
5. Let nothing define us. Let nothing hold us down. Let freedom be our own substance
We can love or identify with something or someone, but we must remain ourselves. Freedom is a fundamental aspect for this author .
6. Women’s problem has always been a man’s problem
This is one of the writer’s most famous phrases, in which she reflects the difficulty of women in a patriarchal society centred on the figure and point of view of men.
7. A free woman is just the opposite of an easy woman
The author considers that it is the fact that the woman adjusts and tries to adjust to the gender roles that does not let her be free.
8. Truth is one and error is multiple
This phrase shows us the belief that pursuing the truth is a complex feat in which we can fail on many occasions and in many ways.
9. Beauty is even harder to explain than happiness
The concept of beauty is abstract and subjective, and it changes over time even in the same person.
10. There is a secret to living happily with your loved one: don’t try to change it
A common mistake that many people make is to try to change their partner: to make them into someone they are not. This can lead to deep frustration and suffering for both parties. It is necessary to love someone for who they are and not for who we would like them to be.
11. You are not born a woman: you become one
Probably the most remembered phrase of Simone de Beauvoir , refers to that for her the woman must configure her own concept and identity of the term “woman”, leaving behind the vision of her as identified by her relationship with others.
12. In itself, homosexuality is as limited as heterosexuality: the ideal would be to be able to love a woman or a man, any human being, without feeling fear, inhibition or obligation
The author defends the need for everyone to be able to love whoever they want to love, whether of the opposite sex or of the same sex, without having to be restricted to a specific category.
13. The body is not a thing, it is a situation: it is our understanding of the world and the outline of our project
Our body is seen as one more element in the process of understanding our reality and getting closer to what we want to be or do.
14. It has been through work that women have been able to overcome the distance that separates them from men. Work is the only thing that can guarantee her complete freedom
This sentence establishes the need for access to the labour market by women, so that they have the same opportunities as men and can be independent.
15. Only after women start to feel at home on this earth do you see a Rosa Luxemburg, a Madame Curie, appear. They demonstrate dazzlingly that it is not the inferiority of women that has determined their insignificance
References are essential in order to see oneself reflected in someone and to see oneself capable of fighting for something. The fact that women have been undervalued is not because they are inferior but because of other circumstances.
16. The family is a nest of perversions
The traditional concept of family includes different aspects and roles of sex and gender, presenting the man as strong, resistant, tough, aggressive and hardworking and the woman as submissive, obedient, loving, weak and dedicated to the care of the home.
17. Man’s nature is evil. His goodness is acquired culture
The role of culture and education was always important to de Beauvoir, considering the author to allow growth and virtue.
18. The fact that a privileged minority exists does not compensate or excuse the situation of discrimination in which the rest of their peers live
Simone de Beauvoir considered that it was necessary to have total equality between all and that some should not be allowed to exploit others.
19. It is lawful to violate a culture, but on condition that you make it a child
The author believes that culture can be changed as long as it is for the better and to promote its development.
20. Charm is what some people have until they start believing it
This phrase is a criticism of many people’s narcissism.
21. What is an adult? A child inflated by age
This phrase speaks to us of what it means to be an adult, the acquisition of knowledge and experiences that have changed the way we are and see the world.
22. Far from the absence of God authorizing any license, on the contrary, the fact that man is abandoned on earth is the reason that his acts are commitments
The author believes that human beings must be committed to their actions and to the world, being especially responsible for their own actions.
23. Man is neither a stone nor a plant, and he cannot justify himself by his mere presence in the world. Man is man only by his refusal to remain passive, by the impulse that projects him from the present into the future and directs him toward things with the purpose of dominating and shaping them. For man, to exist means to remodel existence. To live is the will to live
This phrase is intended to show the human need to change the world and the importance of the will in the process of living.
24. Let us not deceive ourselves; power tolerates nothing but information that is useful to it. It denies the right to information to newspapers that reveal miseries and rebellions
The author reflects on the manipulation of information carried out by power.
25. Feminism is a way of living individually and fighting collectively
Another really well known phrase of Simone de Beauvoir, proposes feminism as a way of defending the rights of the collectives at the same time that it supposes a way in which each one can see and act in life.
26. Writing is a craft that is learned by writing
Nothing is achieved without effort, and everything needs sacrifice and time to reach the goal set.
27. I am unable to believe in infinity, but I also do not accept the finite
A phrase that pushes us towards non-conformity, to not stay only in the prefixed options but to create new options.
28. No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or disdainful, than the man who is anxious about his manhood
This is a reflection on the need for some people to make their supposed virtues known by attacking others.
29. Live in such a way that nothing you do should deserve the reproach or condemnation of those around you
It is important to live according to what we believe and to be free, regardless of what people say.
30. The slave who obeys chooses to obey
The author points out that those who obey what they are told do so because they want to, since they can reveal themselves.
31. Wrinkles on the skin are that indescribable something that comes from the soul
A reflection on the passage of time and aging.
32. It is absolutely impossible to face any human problem with a mind devoid of prejudice
Human beings tend to form judgments about things in advance, so pretending to be objective is not possible.
33. There is no natural death: nothing that happens to man is natural, since his very presence calls the world into question. Death is an accident, and even if men know and accept it, it is an undue violence
A reflection on death.
34. One of the benefits that oppression offers to oppressors is that the humblest of them feels superior: a poor white man in the southern United States has the consolation of saying that he is not a dirty black man. The more fortunate whites skillfully exploit this pride. Similarly, the most mediocre of men consider themselves to be a demigod in front of women
This sentence expresses how oppression is used as a way of maintaining a position of superiority in front of the world, as a defence mechanism against the feeling of weakness and helplessness.
35. The most scandalous thing about scandal is that you get used to it
As rare and striking as a phenomenon is, if it is repeated over time people tend to get used to it.
36. The oppressor would not be so strong if he did not have accomplices among the oppressed themselves
A criticism of the fact that much of the power of machismo is due to the fact that many women considered women to be inferior and had to submit.
37. In a certain sense the mystery of the incarnation is repeated in every woman; every child that is born is a god that becomes a man
The human being is free at birth, but the passage of time configures him in a certain way that makes him see the world in a standardized way.
38. No biological, physical or economic destiny defines the figure of the human female in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this intermediate product between the male and the castrated who are qualified as female
In this sentence Simone de Beauvoir expresses that the concept of woman or feminine is a construct that has been elaborated and considered in a secondary way and without interest until now.
39. Change your life today, don’t bet on the future. Act now, without delay.
A criticism of procrastination. If you want something, do it now and don’t expect others to do it in the future.
40. When I was a child, as a teenager, books saved me from despair: they convinced me that culture was the highest value
The author expresses the importance of culture in order to teach how to fight and live .
41. The day a woman can love not with her weakness but with her strength, not escape from herself but find herself, not humiliate herself but affirm herself, that day love will be for her, as for man, a source of life and not a mortal danger
The author reflects her view of the need for both sexes to see love as strength, not as something imposed by another. She criticizes the view that love was the one that men felt for women and that women should or should not consent rather than being something that both members of a couple decided freely.
42. When a contradiction is impossible to solve except by a lie, then we know that it is a door
Another phrase that expresses the idea that it is necessary to move forward and explore in the search for solutions.
43. When an individual remains in an inferior position, the fact is that he becomes inferior
This sentence reflects that if a person considers himself or herself inferior and allows others to treat him or her as such , he or she is somehow being inferior.
44. That’s what I consider true generosity: you give everything of yourself and yet you always feel that it doesn’t cost you anything
The essence of generosity is to give without asking for anything in return and without the fact of giving being a bother. Otherwise we would not be dealing with real generosity.
45. No existence can be validly realized if it is limited to itself
Living alone by and for oneself is not healthy, it leads to selfish and harmful postures towards oneself and the world. We are social beings and as such we need each other. Contributing allows us to realize ourselves as people.
46. Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female. When she behaves like a human being, she is said to be imitating the male
The author considers that the historical concept of woman has been used in a merely instrumental way, not considering herself a person but property .
47. Happy people have no history
In this life things are not usually achieved without struggle, which involves suffering and effort. Whoever presents himself as happy with what he has will not try to improve his situation.
48. It seemed to me that land would not have been habitable if it had had no one to look up to
This sentence makes it clear that it is necessary to be able to admire and love other people in order to be inspired and see life as something worthwhile.
49. Life has value as long as it values the lives of others, through love, friendship, indignation and compassion
For the author it is necessary to know how to love and value others or else one’s own life loses meaning and sense.
50. Tragedies are fine for a while: you’re worried, you’re curious, you feel good. And then it becomes repetitive, it doesn’t progress, it becomes terribly boring. It is very boring, even for me
Seeing the bad things in life is necessary and can lead to seeking a solution, but focusing only on the negative can end up generating victimhood and preventing progress.