The Second Sex

by: Simone de Beauvoir

Important Quotations Explained

5
[W]oman enjoys that incomparable privilege: irresponsibility.

In the final pages of The Second Sex, de Beauvoir attempts to chart the difficulties of achieving any parity between the sexes. In the conclusion, she issues this tongue-and-cheek comment following an exhortation for woman to take charge of her own destiny.

Women rely on men for shelter, sustenance, opinions, hobbies, conversation topics—in short, for a reason to live. Making no economic contributions to their household, they spend their lives engaged in useless, repetitive activities. However suffocating and unfulfilling, however grotesquely parasitic, life as a wife or mistress is a known quantity, and many women fear departing from societal norms and venturing into the wilderness of liberty. It is less demanding and less exhausting to abdicate all responsibility for one’s future to a man. Many women refuse the opportunities granted them; like their forebears, these women will discover that the “privilege” of irresponsibility is actually a curse, in love and in life. Any successful relationship between two parties grows from mutual liberty. Irresponsibility is a function of mutilation and incompleteness, of dependency and enslavement.