The first book devoted exclusively to Beauvoir's politics
By exploring the life and work of the influential feminist thinker Simone de Beauvoir, this book shows how each of us lives within political and social structures that we can--and must--play a part in transforming. It argues that Beauvoir's careful examination of her own existence can also be understood as a dynamic method for political thinking.
As the contributors illustrate, Beauvoir's political thinking proceeds from the bottom up, using examples from individual lives as the basis for understanding and transforming our collective existence. For example, she embraced her responsibility as a French citizen as making her complicit in the French war against Algeria. Here, she sees her role as an oppressor. In other contexts, she looks to the lives of individual women, including herself, to understand the dimensions of gender inequality.
This volume's six tightly connected essays home in on the individual's relationship to community, and how one's freedom interacts with the freedom of other people. Here, Beauvoir is read as neither a liberal nor a communitarian. The authors focus on her call for individuals to realize their freedom while remaining consistent with ethical obligations to the community. Beauvoir's account of her own life and the lives of others is interpreted as a method to understand individuals in relations to others, and as within structures of personal, material, and political oppression. Beauvoir's political thinking makes it clear that we cannot avoid political action. To do nothing in the face of oppression denies freedom to everyone, including oneself.
Lori Jo Marso is an associate professor of political science and director of women's and gender studies at Union College in Schenectady, New York. She is the author of Feminist Thinkers and the Demands of Femininity. Patricia Moynagh is an assistant professor of political science at Wagner College on Staten Island, New York.