Simone de Beauvoir

On this date in 1908, French author and atheist Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris. Educated at the Sorbonne, de Beauvoir played a major role in the French Existentialist movement, along with close companion and atheist Jean-Paul Sartre. She is best-known for her monumental work, The Second Sex (1949), in which she posited that society treats woman as "the other." She also wrote popular novels and other nonfiction, such as A Very Easy Death. De Beauvoir championed freedom as the ultimate good. Beauvoir, who had been a deeply religious child, initially wanted to be a nun. At age 14, Beauvoir had a crisis of faith and concluded there is no God. She instead studied and taught philosophy. Beauvoir had a life-long relationship with another well-known atheist, Jean-Paul SartreD. 1986.

“Man enjoys the great advantage of having a God endorse the codes he writes; and since man exercises a sovereign authority over woman, it is especially fortunate that this authority has been vested in him by the Supreme Being. For the Jews, Mohammedans, and the Christians, among others, man is master by divine right; the fear of God, therefore, will repress any impulse toward revolt in the downtrodden female.”

—-Simone de Beauvoir, "Situation and Character," The Second Sex (1949, translated and edited by H.M. Parshley, 1953)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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