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Conseil pour vous, personnes tristes! The Resurrection of Simone de Beauvoir

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Ah, Simone de Beauvoir! Simone de Beauvoir was many things: Novelist, memoir-writing enthusiast, feminist, role model for women seeking to integrate a political life with intellectual exploration, chief victim of the popular 20th-century French delusion that Jean-Paul Sartre was ultimately worth putting up with. But did you know that she was also THE TWENTIETH CENTURY’S MOST DEPRESSING RELATIONSHIP ADVICE COLUMNIST???

No? Well, that’s because she wasn’t! Until now. Yes, due to cutting-edge speaking-to-the-dead technology (read: Reading The Second Sex, and being willing to type out some of its pithier sections) we have been able to introduce the wit and wisdom of Simone de Beauvoir, Depressing Relationship-Advice Giver, to you! So go ahead and read it. It’s good for the subject, seeking transcendence the soul.

Dear Simone de Beauvoir,

I run a feminist blog on the Internet. On this blog, I often express strong opinions on political and personal matters, using much sarcasm and expressing an extreme confidence in my own opinions. Here is the thing: Men continue to date me, in spite of the fact that all of this information about me is freely available on the Internet. I assume this means they are cool with it! However, then we disagree on a political or personal matter. And they are shocked — SHOCKED! — to find that I express strong opinions, using much sarcasm and evincing an extreme confidence in my own opinions. To find that, in other words, I sound just like that chick that runs that one feminist blog on the Internet. What the heck, Simone de Beauvoir?

Signed,

Some Lady, You Don’t Know Her, We Just Thought This Was An Interesting Question of General Interest, That Is All.

Dear Lady,

It is clear that in dreaming of himself as donor, liberator, redeemer, man still desires the subjection of woman… The more man acquires a taste for difficult enterprises, however, the more it will please him to give woman independence. To conquer is still more fascinating than to give gifts or to release.

Thus the ideal of the average Western man is a woman who freely accepts his domination, who does not accept his ideas without discussion, but who yields to his arguments, who resists him intelligently and ends by being convinced. The greater his pride, the more dangerous he likes his adventures to be.

Dear Simone de Beauvoir,

I like a boy! Does he like me back? I mean, we’re dating. But he doesn’t seem to like me back. Not the way I like him! Also, aren’t boys such jerks?

Love,

Every Lady Ever In The History Of The World Who Is Not a Lesbian

Dear Every Lady,

Men have found it possible to be passionate lovers at certain times in their lives, but there is not one of them who could be called “a great lover”; in their most violent transports, they never abdicate completely; even on their knees before a mistress, what they still want is to take possession of her; at the very heart of their lives they remain sovereign subjects; the beloved woman is only one value among others; they wish to integrate her into their existence and not to squander it entirely on her. For woman, on the contrary, to love is to relinquish everything… Shut up in the sphere of the relative, destined to the male from childhood, habituated to seeing in him a superb being she cannot possibly equal, the woman who has not repressed her claim to humanity will dream of transcending her being toward one of these superior beings, of amalgamating herself with the sovereign subject. The only way out for her then is to lose herself, body and soul, in him who is represented to her as the absolute, as the essential.

Dear Simone de Beauvoir,

Why can’t I quit Tumblr? Does it have anything to do with why I find Tumblr so annoying sometimes? I think it might!

Yours,

Person Who Keeps Compulsively Starting a Tumblr, Deleting It In a Paroxysm of Fiery Rage, Then Re-Starting Yet Another Tumblr

Dear Tumblr User,

[The narcissist] tries to think that her tastes, ideas, sentiments, retain an exceptional freshness, even some element of oddity and defiance of the world: “You know me;” “I’m funny that way”; “I must have flowers around me”; and so on. She has a special color, a favorite musician, peculiar beliefs and superstitions, somewhat above the general. Her unique personality is expressed in her clothes and her “interior”; she builds up a double that is often sketchy, but sometimes constitutes a definite personage whose role the woman plays for life. Many women see themselves in literary heroines already created: “She is just like me!” Such identifications may be made either with beautiful, romantic figures or with martyred heroines. A woman may obstinately incarnate Our Lady of the Sorrows or the unappreciated wife: “I’m the wretchedest woman in the world.” As Stekel said of a patient of this type: “She got her pleasure in playing this tragic role.”

A trait such women have in common is that they feel misunderstood; people around them fail to recognize their special qualities; they translate this ignorance or indifference on the part of others into the idea that they hold some secret in their hearts… Hence the importance of society to them: they need eyes to gaze at them, ears to listen to them; as personages, they need the greatest possible audiences.

Dear Simone de Beauvoir,

Your last answer was not very helpful! Anyway, that boy broke up with me and NOW I WANT TO DIE. He seems fine, however. HIS TUMBLR HAS NOT EVEN CONTAINED REFLECTIONS ON HIS DISTRESS. Fuck that dude, right, Simone de Beauvoir?

Sincerely,

Every Lady, Who Is Currently Sobbing Big Sad Failure Tears, And Is Disappointed In Your Previous Lack of Sympathy

Dear Loser,

A break can leave its mark on a man; but, after all, he has his man’s life to live. The abandoned woman no longer is anything, no longer has anything. If she is asked how she lived before, she does not even remember. She let her former world fall to ashes, to adopt a new country from which she is suddenly driven; she forswore all the values she believed in, broke off her friendships; she now finds herself without a roof over her head, the desert all around her… If the woman is still young, she has the chance to recover — a new love will cure her. In some cases, she will give herself with a little more reserve, realizing that what is not unique cannot be absolute; but she will often dash herself to ruin more violently than she did the first time, because she must also make up for her past defeat. The failure of absolute love is a fruitful lesson only if the woman is capable of taking herself in hand again.

Dear Simone de Beauvoir,

Yikes. Anyway, how’s that whole Megan Fox situation going?

Sincerely,

The Portion of the Internet Tired of Discussing That Lady’s Boyfriend, Who Also Feels That This Conversation Has Gotten A Bit Awkward

Dear Tired Internet,

The subjection of Hollywood stars is well known. Their bodies are not their own; the producer decides on the color of their hair, their weight, their figure, their type; to change the curve of a cheek, their teeth may be pulled. Dieting, gymnastics, fittings, constitute a daily burden. Going out to parties and flirting are expected under the head of “personal appearances”; private life is no more than an aspect of public life. In France there is no written rule, but a shrewd and clever woman knows what her “publicity” demands of her. The star who refuses to be pliant to these requirements will experience a brutal or a slow but inevitable dethronement. The prostitute who simply yields her body is perhaps less a slave than the woman who makes a career of pleasing the public.

Dear Simone de Beauvoir,

FINE. He didn’t ever like me as much as I liked him, because boys don’t like girls that way. He didn’t really care about our break-up, because boys don’t care about break-ups that way. Men are terrible, women are doomed, blah blah blah you had to put up with Sartre and you’re bitter. What the heck am I supposed to do about it? WHAT?? TELL ME, YOU ACCURSED FRENCH HARPY.

Yours,

That Lady, Who’s Now Gone A Little Bit Bonkers Over The Whole Deal, and Is Taking It Out on a Dead Philosophy Lady With a Fake Advice Column

Dear Recurring Advice-Seeker,

Man has no need of the unconditional devotion he claims, nor of the idolatrous love that flatters his vanity; he accepts them only on the condition that he need not satisfy the reciprocal demands these attitudes imply. He preaches to woman that she should give — and her gifts bore him to distraction; she is left in embarrassment with her useless offerings, her empty life. On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself — on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger. In the meantime, love represents in its most touching form the curse that lies heavily upon woman confined in the feminine universe, woman mutilated, insufficient unto herself. The innumerable martyrs to love bear witness against the injustice of a fate that offers a sterile hell as ultimate salvation.

[See, Leechy? That was fun. Also fun: Subscribing! For which we have a button, right here.]


22 Comments

  1. stormy wrote:

    Nice construction there, I’m impressed. I never realized how Nietzschean she was. “The greater his pride, the more dangerous he likes his adventures to be.” Could be straight out of Beyond Good and Evil. I always suspected that his philosophy didn’t HAVE to be inherently misogynistic, and that was just a personal problem on his part, and now I know. Thanks.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 1:33 am | Permalink
  2. Christen wrote:

    SADY PLEASE BUY YOURSELF AN INADVISABLE NUMBER OF DRINKS WITH THE MONEY I PLEDGE

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 2:02 am | Permalink
  3. C.L. Minou wrote:

    Mais il est mieux en français :)

    –Some Lady Who Remains Committed To Reading Le Deuxième Sexe in French (estimated completion date: 2047)

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink
  4. Samantha B. wrote:

    It is possible the narcissism bit may also apply to a woman today dressed like a monastic go go dancer, a woman whose partner died 5 months ago and so engages in sleazy sex as a minimally effective distraction with a friend who mostly wants to fuck her when she doesn’t want to fuck him and vice versa. And it begins to set her teeth on edge that said sleazy friend doesn’t rabidly adore her in ways that she is fully unprepared to reciprocate, and given that she doesn’t fuck total morons (for the most part,) he is fully aware of all of this and a bit cagey.

    So therein lies the answer, Mlle. de Beauvoir, the answer which would be encumbent on the narcissist to apply. This *is* what feminism should be (at least in part-) a means to interrogate one’s own idiot life and the idiot tropes that come to play in it. Thank you, Ms. Sady.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 9:06 am | Permalink
  5. the rejectionist wrote:

    AAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Sady Doyle, I cede the field.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink
  6. Keys wrote:

    LMAO

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink
  7. Astraea wrote:

    Dear Simone de Beauvoir,

    A blogger I admire recently made a joke that centered the heterosexual experience as normal and completely erased lesbians, suggesting that “every lady ever in the history of the world” has had feelings for a boy and wondered if he liked her back. What should I do?

    Yours,
    A tired queer woman

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink
  8. jaded16 wrote:

    I’m reading her memoirs and she’s so DEVOTED to Sartre, it comes right off of the page. Kind of seeing a puppy dog lick hir master only to get a swift kick in the nuts.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  9. Rivka wrote:

    “Every Lady Ever In The History Of The World” doesn’t include gay women, I guess. Good to know who is and isn’t a person.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink
  10. callipsofacto wrote:

    I am bookmarking this to give to the 13 year old daughter I will never have. Have some moneys.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  11. Sady wrote:

    @Astraea: Recognize that humor often relies on hyperbole? Dur, every lady ever isn’t going to be into the dudes. Every lady ever might not even be this pathetic about the dudes, provided that she is into them! However, it’s such a stereotypical complaint, with such a depressing response, that I thought it was funny.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
  12. Amadi wrote:

    @Sady the hyperbole was still othering and hurtful. There are ways that same humor could’ve been phrased without being exclusive of women who do not and have not pined, unrequited, after a man.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink
  13. Astraea wrote:

    I love hyperbole more than anything ever.

    Hyperbole that’s no different than the attitude I’d be likely to find in actual mainstream advice columns isn’t very funny to me.

    I really do love your blog and I have no desire to play gotcha or pile on over one joke, but it was kind of a punch in the gut even if it wasn’t intentional.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  14. Sady wrote:

    @Astraea: Edited.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink
  15. Astraea wrote:

    Thank you, Sady!

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
  16. April wrote:

    @Astraea, @Sady, @Amadi

    1) I looooove Tiger Beatdown
    2) I have a very, very strong dislike for heternormativity
    3) I am a bisexual/pansexual and 100% queer woman
    4) The hyperbole, as Amadi said, was hurtful and othering, and I thank her and Astraea for pointing it out and asking for it to be edited to be more inclusive
    4) However, I also feel that saying that references to women liking men are only applicable to straight women, and the need for references to women liking women is important to include/validate the experiences (only) of lesbians, erases my experience/existence, and contributes to bisexual invisibility. That is to say, women liking men is not always a “heterosexual experience”, and it is important (in general) to mention the fact that some women like women so as to include/validate the experiences of both lesbian and bisexual/pansexual women
    5) Thanks for the edit, Sady – I think it actually makes it funnier :)

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
  17. Amadi wrote:

    Sady, it’s funnier now!

    Thank you.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  18. *whispers* There are also asexual/aromantic women.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink
  19. April wrote:

    @SoftestBullet

    Tarnation! I made a very thoughtless, erasing and easily avoidable mistake (not that it wouldn’t be just as bad if it were more difficult to avoid) and I’m really really sorry. Thank you so much for pointing it out.

    In a somewhat similar vein, it occurred to me that many bisexual/pansexual and gay men might identify with the letter(s) in question (to a varying degree).

    Ah, variety. It makes things more spicy, but also more complicated :)

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink
  20. Astraea wrote:

    @April, you are right, and I myself go back and forth between identifying myself as either queer or bisexual. I suppose I was picking my battles here, but obviously wound up contributing to the problem. I’m very sorry.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  21. Melissa wrote:

    “You accursed French harpy” is my new favorite epithet. How the diable am I going to work it into conversation?!?

    Monday, July 19, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink
  22. Emily wrote:

    What is it about Sartre that makes him so satisfying to pick on? What is it about Sady that makes me want to pledge my undying love to her?

    Monday, July 19, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] * Sady Doyle channels Simone de Beauvoir-as-dating advice columnist. [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by A. Jensen-Clem, Lindsey Ford. Lindsey Ford said: Simone de Beauvoir, Agony Aunt: http://bit.ly/9rSeuh [...]

  3. FIA » fun times with the second sex on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 8:15 am

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