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On ne naît pas femme: on le devientThe Life of a Sentence$
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Bonnie Mann and Martina Ferrari

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190608811

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190608811.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 November 2020

Becoming A Woman

Becoming A Woman

Reading Beauvoir’s Response to the Woman Question

(p.159) 9 Becoming A Woman
On ne naît pas femme: on le devient

Megan M. Burke

Oxford University Press

The author argues that the exclusion of the indefinite article in Borde and Malovany-Chevallier’s translation of “the famous sentence” in The Second Sex obscures Beauvoir’s phenomenological account of feminine existence. While it is best to understand the recent translation as an informed, interpretative reading of Beauvoir, this essay suggests that reading the end of the sentence as “becoming a woman” undoes the common Anglo-American reading of Simone de Beauvoir as a social constructionist (for example, in the work of Judith Butler). This undoing is important for the way readers become oriented to Beauvoir’s phenomenological commitments. Thus the inclusion of the “a” gestures to a phenomenological sensibility. There is a sphere within the lived experience of femininity that the exclusion cannot capture.

Keywords:   Key words, Borde and Malovany-Chevallier, social constructionism, phenomenology, Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler, The Second Sex

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