In her book Simone de Beauvoir conducted a thorough research on the issue of what role women play in society and why. She raised the questions of ‘femininity’ which was rather the badge of the unfree than simple characteristic of women. To make women free, such femininity must disappear in society.
She was determined to connect the view of women to different disciplines including anthropology, biology, sociology, psychology and history. She also referred to cultures and myths to understand why different forms of oppression existed. As a result, Beauvoir came to conclusion that women voluntarily accepted the subordinate status and this gave men a chance to maintain their dominance. She wrote that the duality of sexes would end in conflict (10), so that if women had rebelled for their rights, probably there would have been no oppression. Still there are lots of men who continue “to view women’s liberation as a danger threatening their morality and their interests” (Beauvoir 13). Such antifemenists began to refer to religion, theology, philosophy as well as to sciences to prove women’s inferiority. The reasons can be different from the fear of dramatic changes in the society order to severe competition which may appear between sexes.
Bell hooks widened this subject and added race to gender and sex as one more reason of women’s oppression. An image of black male masculinity overshadowed the image of black women that led to false assumptions regarding “black woman as strong and powerful” (hooks 83). Thus the term ‘women’ refers primarily to white women while “black” refers first of all to black men. Moreover, racial oppression combined with gender one continues till today also because white feminists ignored black women’s issue after manumission.
Beauvoir, S. The Second Sex. London: Vintage, 2011. Print.
Bell hooks. Ain’t I a Woman? N.d., 1982. PDF file.