ClitLit – Women, Romance Fiction and Patriarchal Discourse

March 10, 2010

Some Simone – Quick Shots

Just came across this quote in Simone de Beauvoir which I found very, very interesting.

‘The body of man makes sense in itself quite apart from that of woman, whereas the latter seems wanting in significance by itself … Man can think of himself without woman. She cannot think of herself without man.’ And she is simply what man decrees; thus she is called ‘the sex’, by which is meant that she appears essentially to the male as a sexual being. For him she is sex – absolute sex, no less. She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she is the Other.’

– de Beauvoir, S., 1949, The Second Sex

This not only fits with that notion of sex-completing-the-woman while the man is complete already, but also highlights something I have only (to my shame) noticed about category titles. When do you ever see ‘The Mistress of Revenge’s Italian Boss’? ‘The Virgin Secretary’s Sheikh’? ‘The Pregnant Housekeeper’s Greek Millionaire’? No, it is always the men doing the possessing.

More on this when it is not late o’clock at night!



  1. LOL. You and your quote have it all wrong. Woman is the essence of life…which sex is an integral part. Man wants to possess BECAUSE in possessing he allows his gene pool to continue through time and make his existence platable. Women know they are life, and as such do not have to strut around trying to possess – it is like old money not having to flaunt their financial superiority in the world’s face….their existence and importance is part of their whole…and not something they have to prove.

    Comment by sheila b — April 21, 2010 @ 4:21 am | Reply

  2. Sheila, this is a very interesting view – one that I really don’t agree with for a start (I’m quite uncomfortable with sweeping generalisations like ‘women know…’ – it is one thing when de Beauvoir makes a philosophical assertion largely based on the physical and ideological, another when talking about some kind of universal psychology. I am a woman and I certainly don’t necessarily think that I am ‘life’.)

    However, what I am interested in is how you would articulate this view philologically. This blog is a litcrit blog – could you expound on your views in relation to the literature which is the subject of this blog: romance fiction?

    Comment by Jodi — April 21, 2010 @ 9:50 am | Reply

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