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Oldooz Tabrizi (Dushanbe, Tajikestan)


Not much time had passed from the intellectual, and economic changes of eighteenth century that schools like romanticism in the nineteenth century and existentialism in the twentieth century started to theorize against rational, and scientific optimisms of the Enlightenment.

Existentialism as the child of Romanticism, and an uprising against the modern philosophy from Descartes to Kant; had root in these Hegel’s theories that the essence of world, and human is departure toward liberty, and perfect man is who prefers his being recognized officially by other men to his human survival. [7, p. 166] However Hegel knew; this idea could be turned into a war of all against all, so emphasized that in this way only being ready for overcoming to the desire of self-preservation is important. Who is ready to endanger his life; wins, and who -like slave- surrenders to master because of the fear of being killed; fails, but ultimately both survive, and nobody will be killed in the way of forcing others to recognize his humanity. [8, p. 180] But existentialists only accepted the beginig of this Hehel’s idea that man should strive to be recognized, but made its sequel themselves, and opposite him; summoned to fight in this way.

Martin Heidegger, in his theories that became the origin of existentialism of the twentieth century; stated that Dasein (human existence) in correlation with others, for escaping from the anguish; tries to be like crowd, and because of that it loses its authenticity, and will overwhelm in the others’ existence, and this is other’s autarchy. In his idea being free means being authentic, and desist from following the typical human, all, and everybody, and separating from ordinary, and every day life. [1, p. 456] Although, most of the times, tendcy to enjoy from joys, and the fear of death cause that man to make easy choices, and by choosing the stereotyped identities, while has forgotten the authentic existence, knows himself successful but this man according to Heidegger's idea is a guilty person that the dialectic between desire of becoming like crowd in return of the necessity of freedom, and authenticity; warns him continually that he must look for his authenticity.

Jean-Paul Sartre, who reputed to the public more than other existentialists, continued Heidegger's thought process in Being and Nothingness; knew being as common, and ordinary existence, and nothingness as doom from this usual existence, and entering to a sublime life. Ofcourse sublimation in Srtre’s idea doesn’t mean nearness to the kingdom of God, but is nearess to self. A self that is made by itself not by others. A subject that has left routine, and has plan for its life as an aware, and chooser. A self that doesn’t have an identity that has been defined once for ever, and its future is a white table that it must draw on that by its conscious action. [3, p. 104]

What as freedom is this school’s base; is the harvest of nothingness, and will be accomplished after farewell with being. Sartre emphasizes that what is; can’t be free. Free is what is not, means what escapes from subsisting, and being monotonous, but because the world resists in front of this kind of freedom, so freedom in this stubborn world, is a tragic kind of being. Briefly being free in Sartre's idea is being captive in a tragic ordeal, and not matching with the world in which we are, and getting expelled or exiled from it. [2, p. 11] Moreover according to existentialism, everybody has a static, anxious, and dependent on others dimension that for moving the other dimension, and realizing their independence, and integrity has to distance from that part and in total from other, and others.

Using exexistentialism in feminism in the time that women’s success were evaluated by their success in marital life, encouraging women to choose a way except what was acceptable by public, needed a powerful, and attractive theory that the close friend of Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir did this work by publishing Second Sex in 1948, and linked between feminism and exexistentialism. Thus the double of self/other in existentialism was expanded to the double of male/female in feminism, while according to feminism commands, women should become heedless to all other things that are counted as others in existentialism; such as the public opinion, and dominant thought, and… existentialist feminism, knew the nothingness of Sartre -that is real existence- and ascendency; in women’s farewell with male standards, and male-dominated society. In other words, this kind of feminism, invited women not to stop following the model of common woman, and daily life and separate from men.

According to Being and Nothingness of Sartre; de Beauvoir knew woman as the symbol of being, static, and dependent dimension of existence, and man as the symbol of dynamic, and active dimension, and stated between two sexes this is man that by his power, has been able to put himself in the position of subject and woman in the position of object. [5, p. 32] so woman has been defined in proportion with man not re to herself that is not acceptable, and woman should look for an independent definition of her identity.

In analysing this situation, and knowing that which condition has allowed man to dominate on woman, de Beauvoir- because of Sartre’s advice- emphasises on the physiology of women, and especially her motherhood abilitiy, and know it the most important factor in her weakness, her house during pregnancy, throe and lactation, becoming the object and briefly the cause of all her miseries from the early of history. Ofcourse like Engels, she also intends to the impact of private ownership in intensifying it. However, doesn’t accept these things would figure a determined destiny for woman, and makes woman the second sex, and sentenced to preserve this independence. [5,p. 69] in her idea, being natural of physiological characteristics is not an acceptable reason for knowing the inequalities between the sexes natural and is a condition that should revolt against it but the complicated point is that women themselves accept this position, it internalized that and reproduce that by passing it to their children, because because in their opinion this condition not only is natural but also is good that should be submited before it.

The writter of the Second Sex explains this phenomenon according to the principle of existentialism especially Heidegger’s and Sartre's ideas and knows it escaping from real freedom, a simple choice or a choice under the pressure of what others say and want.

de Beauvoir claims the destiny that traditional society proffers to woman; is marriage. [6, p. 229] But marriage in her definition is the end of a woman’s life. In her idea, because woman, and man are from two different world, they don’t have the ability of understanding each others’ actions, and intends, and woman not only never achieve to perfectness besides husband, but also when became the wife of man, the lady of a home, the mother of a child, her life has been finished for ever. [6, p. 336] De Beauvoir proceeds till she introduces the institution of marriage, spoiled [6, p. 338] and knows the real of marriage, hatable because of determining right, and duty for a relation that in her opinion, must be established only because of excitement, and in justifying the acceptance of marriage from women again by the help of existentialism, and socialism yet, says that woman except attracting public, taking refuge to the marriage because she finds it as the only means, and the simplest possible way for ways and means. Woman in return of fulfiling the husband’s needs, and ensuring his Continuity of generation, and briefly becoming his slave, receive some finantial rewards. as a result marriage because seems as an easier and More lucrative job is accepted, Regardless of this matter that marrige will make her confine and will spare those little freedoms of bachelorhood time, will closed her ascendency and progress way and makes her only a person who is only an imitator of past from her.

De Beauvoir’s idea about motherhood is also the same as matrimony, and even faster, and more radical. The fact that she starts the chapter of motherhood of the book , Second Sex, with abortion discussion, is the best evidence of her obstinacy with becoming mother, and being mother for women. She knows the reason of men’s opposition with abortion, their opposition as a dominant with women’s releasing from the imposed constraints that are barrier for their true freedom, and efflorescence of their talent. She denies the natural desire of woman to become mother, and motherhood instinct, and doesn’t know the feeling of being valuable, and perfect of woman after becoming mother, anything more than illusion, and by claiming that all of these, are what society, and other’s mastery constrain on womanish choices, and tendencies, invites women to look for freedom in its existentialist meaning that means to escape from the situations that are constrained to them, and to define and make their themselves. De Beauvoir’s suggestive solution for escaping from marriage is occupation. She knows women’s entering to the field of production, and supply of industrial, and economic the first step in their Release, and because of that in Second Sex she wrote; sience woman is not Parasite, the system is based on the dependence; breaks down, and no need to male intermediate between her, and world. In her opinion having job is the first step in women’s real independence, because she knows financial need as the only reason of women’s marriage; moreover in her opinion having job gives married ladies’ possibility to ge divorce from their husbands in the Cases of emergency, need, and desire. Also for fulfilling other needs, with the support of this existentialist Sartre's idea that there is no external reference to determine which choices are right, and which choices are wrong, she thinks that women in these scopes shouldn’t obey institutions, and Contracts. But for escaping from motherhood, she doesn’t give a specific solution; except recommending women by different ways to refuse that. Likening motherhood to Slavery, claiming that fear of death and destruction -which is one of the frears in existentialists’ idea that leads a person to the form of repeated, and imitated- leads women into motherhood, and to bring copies of themselves, saying that woman by accepting motherhood will ruin her future, and close all the ways of realizing noble existence to herself, stating that motherhood is men’s snare for capturing women, and… hundreds of other justifications are her reasons for not accepting this role. [6, chapters.5,6 ]

It seems that except Sartre’s existentialism, relativist and nihilistic tendencies in this philosophy, and its enphasis on individual’s choices, and its Conflict with any compliance made from de Beauvoir’s feminism a theory that unfortunately knew all the moral values meaningless, and became unable to understand the meaning, and Pleasure of all the things that has been put as trust in human nature. Eke existentialist definition of freedom, and ascendancy allowed de Beauvoir, not to know encouraging to know refusing from traditions, and institutions, propagation of promiscuity, and know it as developing of the two above concepts to women’s life. Furthermore, regarding that existentialism in the relation between doubles, invited the under to fight with the dominant and eliminating him, establish the same dialectic between man, and woman openly was inviting women to fight with men that related with them in the roles of father, husband, and… Although de Beauvoir tried to deny this intend in responding to the Criticisms to the Second Sex after its publication, and claim that she just wanted to teach women that they can also choose other ways for living, but the content of her book is sometimes openly and sometimes in wrapping, invitation to a war against family, and leveler radical feminists of the second wave to seek immoral and anti-family things that had been unprecedented in the history of Europe and America untill that day.

The last point is though existentialist feminism of de Beauvoir is apparently the style that she had chosen for herself and had never declared her dissatisfaction from that but by an overview on Simone de Beauvoir’s memories, many examples of works can be found that de Beauvoir in her life has being done in her relation with Sartre while in Second Sex she has prohibited ladies of doing that for their Legal, and religious husbands.

Spending her income jointly with Sartre, leaving work when Sartre had had good job, and income, the importance of compromise and adapt with Sartre in any condition, accepting Sartre’s more reputation in comparison with herself, taking care of him when he needs her care, need to his consider, guidance, and encouragement for improving, and… are partial examples of contradictions of de Beauvoir’s life with her ideas. Even not accepting the roles of mother and wife that de Beauvoir has either recommended to and done that; are among the cases that finding the symbols of her dissatisfaction from that in her talk. When Sartre speaks frankly about his love to another person and de Beauvoir, because is not his wife, and because of those existentialist thoughts, can’t express her irritation, or when in her relation with Sartre or Algren doesn’t see any guaranty for this love, and her age doesn’t remain any hope for her to find a new love, and she also feels fear from nought, and death; her dissatisfaction from this style of life is seen in her memories. [4] As a result, although the Second Sex in its time was known as feminists’ manifesto, but apparently it was a prescription that its full acceptance and implementation in life was not possible, even for its author.


  1. Ahmadi, B, “Heidegger and the History of Existence”, Tehran. Markaz press. 1381- 885 p

  2. Butler, J, “Jean-Paul Sartre”, translated by Khashayar Deyhimi, Tehran, Mahi press. 1382- 100 p

  3. Paki Nia, M / Mrdiha, M, “The dominance of the Sex”, Tehran, Ney press, 1388- 207 p

  4. De Beauvoir, S, “Memories” (volume III), translated by Qasen Sanavi, Tehran, Tus press. 1362- 359 p

  5. De Beauvoir, S, “The Second Sex” (volume I), translated by Qasen Sanavi, Tehran, Tus press. 1380- 443 p

  6. De Beauvoir, S, “The Second Sex” (volume II), translated by Qasen Sanavi, Tehran, Tus press. 1388- 728 p

  7. Matthews, E, “France philosophy in the twentieth century”, translated by Mohsen Hakimi, Tehran, Qoqnus press. 1378- 328 p

  8. Hegel ,G, W, F, “Phenomenology of Spirit” translated by Ziba Jlili, Tehran. Shafie press. 1382- 254 p