Heads up: Top comment and controversy

Simone de Beauvoir 106th birthday: best quotes

It is the birthday of French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, who had she been alive would have been 106 today.

Existentialists believe that philosophy should start with the human experience, that our individual experiences are unique and that our choices create our nature (or essence).

In her book the Second Sex, she emphasized (in line with her existential philosophy)  that one is not born a woman, one becomes one, and that the concept of a woman has historically been defined by males and their difference to men.

She argued that men had shaped women to their idea of the the feminine and in doing so had reduced them to objects and robbed them of identity. Other works which won her acclaim include The Mandarins, which traces the lives of herself and Sartre’s inner circle and philosophical novels The Blood of Others and She Came to Stay.

De Beauvoir had romances with both men and women, but her life partner was Jean Paul Satre. However she never lived with him and they often critiqued each others works. She also had no children but signed the the Manifesto of the 343 in 1971 whilst active in the women’s liberation movement. This was a list of well-known women who claimed to have had an abortion. However some have argued that they never took place. Her writing still resounds today. Here are some of her most profound quotes.

 

"One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion."

 

"To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job."

 

"Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female - whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male. "

 

"Sex pleasure in woman is a kind of magic spell; it demands complete abandon; if words or movements oppose the magic of caresses, the spell is broken."

 

"I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom."

 

"All oppression creates a state of war."

"Society cares for the individual only so far as he is profitable."

"It is old age, rather than death, that is to be contrasted with life. Old age is life's parody, whereas death transforms life into a destiny: in a way it preserves it by giving it the absolute dimension. Death does away with time."

"Change your life today. Don't gamble on the future, act now, without delay."

 

"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."

"When an individual is kept in a situation of inferiority, the fact is that he does become inferior."

"There is only one good. And that is to act according to the dictates of one's conscience."

"The curse which lies upon marriage is that too often the individuals are joined in their weakness rather than in their strength, each asking from the other instead of finding pleasure in giving."

"If you live long enough, you'll see that every victory turns into a defeat."

React Now

Read Next
The bustling Accident & Emergency ward at Milton Keynes Hospital  

The NHS needs the courage to 'adapt and survive'

Nigel Edwards
 

Letter from the Sub-Editor: Canada is seen as a peaceful nation, but violent crime isn’t as rare as you might think

Jeffrey Simpson
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?