Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Second (banana) Sex

I Recently finished a seminal work in second wave feminism. As I flipped through the final pages I thought that the thesis will be imperative for my daughter.

Simone De Beauvoir came after suffrage and before feminist tension found a nadir of absurdity though infighting and nonsensical demands of society. She grew up in France and received the highest academic honors throughout her matriculation. She eventually met up with J.P. Sartre and continued a lifelong friendship where influence rubbed off upon one another.

The thrust of her book is that woman is not born, but is made. A woman physically is born as is, however her place in society is created through domination of the male human species. She traces the broad scope of history to try to understand why woman has become a objective instrument to maleness. She discovers no clear reason other than the fact that woman has succumbed to this forceful demand - creating, accepting and even craving this objectified status in society - and man has accepted this as a status-quo.

Her cure, which in modern times seems rather simple and foregone, is to treat woman as an other (not an it) and allow a woman to redefine herself as a human equal amongst a plethora of individuals. There can be no denial that there are certain physiological differences between males and females, however that difference should be used to enhance one another.

The brief synopsis above is a quick and not-very-useful attempt to bring my thesis into light. My daughter, in all her womany being, has an added element which creates another level of objectivity. She has a disability, severity unknown, that makes her dependent upon others for an indeterminate future.

It is very tempting for us her parents, and anyone involved in her life to quickly label, define and categorize her as an individual who has limits, hindrances, inability to do whatever it is she wants to do. The assumptions we carry with us, whether it be towards women, a race, political affiliations, or even people with disabilities is unfair and takes the humanness away from another.

I think we're in for a lot of learning and new beginnings.