chapter  5
38 Pages

Sexual Dialogics: Psychoanalysis and The Second Sex

The Second Sex has been recognized as an unconventional philosophical work. Nancy Bauer, for example, argues that it "constitutes nothing less than a challenge to philosophy to transform itself, internally and from the ground up" (24). From a literary perspective, the unconventional aspects of The Second Sex may be understood as problems of genre, marking the work as a novelized form of philosophy. Novelized genres are situated in the world and among its discourses and are grounded in the author's own contemporaneity; they pass judgment on the past; and they produce an unfinalized representation of the human image-in this case, women as a collective or composite subject. Following this definition, The Second Sex demythologizes the past and men's images of woman through its fearless representation of women's lived experience, psychology, and sexuality. Book One critiques images of woman in philosophical, historical, and literary memory. Book Two investigates the development and lived experience of women as subjects; the final section, "Toward Liberation," completes the judgment of past times by looking toward the future.