Justifying Women’s Subordinate Status Within Society: Mill’s Critique

The subjects of femininity, feminism, love, and how to be a woman persist and are central in the works of Simone de Beauvoir. The French philosopher also continually tackles the topic of marriage and its role in the relationship of men and women. At the present time, the concept of marriage has slightly shifted and does not necessarily represent the traditional relationship between a male and a female. However, it is essential to note that Beauvoir’s most prominent work, The Second Sex, was written in 1949 when society was less open-minded regarding sexual relations. Therefore, when the French philosopher states, “In marrying, the woman receives a piece of the world as property <…> she becomes his vassal”, the author is talking about traditional marriage. The distinction between such relationships in the first half of the 20th century and contemporary partnerships is critical to fully comprehending Beauvoir’s perspective concerning marriage as an institution.

Regarding the oppressive aspect of marriage, Beauvoir believes that it primarily applies to women due to stigma, uprising, and social norms. Despite the seeming freedom and legal reforms concerning the consensuality of the partnership, the French philosopher considers that marriage cannot be equal as long as there is an economic gap within the family. Beauvoir states, “Many young couples give the impression of perfect equality. But as long as the man has economic responsibility for the couple, it is just an illusion”. According to Beauvoir, this scheme would remain until cultural practices indicate social roles for males and females, and it has to be changed for marriage to stop being an oppressive institute. The French philosopher has suggested the following idea, “The situation has to be changed in their common interest by prohibiting marriage as a ‘career’ for the woman”. Therefore, if society is able to get rid of social roles and stigma, both men and women would acquire the desired freedom that is frequently restricted by marriage.

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