Past her Prime? Simone de Beauvoir on Motherhood and Old Age
Despite her reputation as the ‘Mother’ of second-wave feminism, Simone de Beauvoir is not usually heralded as a mother-friendly feminist. In The Second Sex, the passages dedicated to the female body—and especially the pregnant female body—have been dismissed as unfortunate expressions of internalized patriarchy or personal idiosyncrasy. By comparing Beauvoir’s later analysis of old age to aspects of the experience of pregnancy and early motherhood, this essay suggests that Beauvoir’s later work Old Age offers a rich untapped resource for understanding her thinking on maternity.
KeywordsBeauvoir Old age Ageing Motherhood Maternity Mothering Ethics The Second Sex Pregnancy
Beauvoir (1976) Ethics of Ambiguity, trans. B. Frechtman. New York: Citadel Press
Beauvoir (2012 ) The Second Sex, trans. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Vintage. Pagination references are to the Vintage e-book edition
Beauvoir (1977 ) Old Age, trans. Patrick O’Brian. Harmondsworth: Penguin
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