Revolutionary and thought-provoking,Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex isa novel that challenged the subordination of women brought upon by men andillustrated a feminist and philosophical perspective on rights of women. Workingalongside with Jean-Paul Sartre, De Beauvoir’s work in The Second Sex underlies Sartre’s concept of bad faith in relationto De Beauvoir’s concept of the “battle of the sexes.” Being confined by herown immanence in a male-dominated society, De Beauvoir illustrates that the femininesubject “declares herself as their equal” in relation to the transcendence ofthe male for the struggle for recognition because it is affecting her free willand responsibility (De Beauvoir 428). By recognizing the female, the maleattempts to “find himself” as a stable identity to transcend as the male figurethrough “the devaluation of femininity” and the oppression of women. Lastly, DeBeauvoir believes that the construct of femininity is itself a product, asSartre puts it, of bad faith because “one is not born, but rather becomes, awoman.” Conceivedby Jean-Paul Sartre, the concept of bad faith underlies Simone De Beauvoir’s conceptof the so-called “battle of the sexes.” In order to explain how the concept ofbad faith relates to the concept of the battle of the sexes, one has tounderstand Sartrean philosophy.
According to Sartre, bad faith is an act ofdeceiving oneself by rejecting the notion of freedom and one’s facticity, eventhough human beings are aware of that very vaguely. Bad faith is basically theact of living inauthentically by rejecting one’s freedom and facticity bysaying something like “I had to do it because I had no choice.” An example of bad faith includes thata person accepts that he or she does not have free will and adopts the socialroles imposed upon them which prevents them from being the individual they canbe. This notion of bad faith connects to two concepts known as voluntarism anddeterminism. Voluntarism is the belief that our actions are unconditioned and aproduct of our free will, while determinism is the belief that everything we dohas a definite cause and that there is a reason for every action; it lacks thenotion of free will. Therefore, the idea of bad faith and determinism go handin hand by the fact that humans tell a lie to themselves to identify who theyare because it is already predetermined by one’s facticity or features of the”being” that limits one’s projects and possibilities.
An example of how badfaith and determinism relate is for a human to say “I am a product of my timehence that is why I made that choice.” People tend to stick with “safe andeasy” choices failing to recognize the multitude amount of choices available tothem. As Sartre puts it, people desire to be a “being-in-itself” than to be a”being-for-itself.” Being-in-itself is something that is permanent and concreteand lacks the ability to change something like an object, while being-for-itselfis something that has a “free foundation of its emotions as of its volitions,”basically describing humans because their actions are not permanent and areable to change. (Sartre 316). By desiring permanence and try to be the “being-in-itself,”humans fall into bad faith and their projects are limited by their facticityand fail to recognize the freedom that exists and the ability to make whateverchoice they desire like a “being-for-itself.
” Connecting this to De Beauvoir’sconcept of the “battle of the sexes,” “society…decrees that woman isinferior: she can do away with thisinferiority only by destroying the male’s superiority” (De Beauvoir 427). Sincethe beginning of time, women have been oppressed and considered to be inferiorto men, and it is considered to be “the eternal fact of human nature.” The factit is the “eternal fact of human nature” is itself bad faith because itpresents a changeless essence that dictates human behavior.
This illustratesthe concepts of immanence and transcendence in relation to the “battle of thesexes.” Immanence says that women are confined within their appropriate sphereof activity, while transcendence allows men to “transcend” the physical aspectof their being to “conquer the natural world.” Both men and women want totranscend and “conquer the natural world” with their projects, but men wouldnot be able to have a “stable identity,” and there is a struggle forrecognition and “each free being wishing to dominate the other” (De Beauvoir428). However, within the “battle of the sexes,” there is bad faith becausesociety has standards for women and because of those standards women areconfined within their own immanence and unable to transcend, while males areable to transcend to attain the natural world. Clearly, Sartre’s concept of badfaith underlies De Beauvoir’s concept of the battle of sexes. Confined by her immanence withinsexist societies, DeBeauvoir illustrates that the feminine subject “declares herself as theirequal” in relation to the transcendence of the male for the struggle forrecognition (De Beauvoir 428).
According to De Beauvoir, “the ‘modern’ womenaccepts masculine values: she prides herself on thinking, taking action,working, creating, on the same terms as men; instead of seeking to disparagethem, she declares herself as his equal” (De Beauvoir 428). However, in orderto understand what De Beauvoir means by being “their equal,” one has tounderstand the concepts of immanence and transcendence. De Beauvoir uses”immanence” to portray the misogynistic societies, in which women are confinedto their sphere of activity in a closed-off realm where women are passive and domestic.”Transcendence” designates the opposing male to transcend the physical aspectof his being and identifying himself as superior. However, men refuse to”accept his companion as an equal in any concrete way” making the womensubordinate to men’s superiority and her being immersed in her own immanence(De Beauvoir 428). A woman, according to De Beauvoir, seeks to be considered asan equal, but men want to consider themselves as superior and there is astruggle for recognition between the two sexes; women desire to have projects,accomplishments, and activities, but men have relinquished their existentialright to transcendent and be forced to be immersed in their immanence.
Due to thisoppression, “instead of displaying mutual recognition, each free being wishesto dominate the other” (De Beauvoir 428). This is contrary to Hegel’s conceptof mutual recognition. Hegel believed that women have freedom but need to bedenied that freedom to have a functional working-class society; there needs tobe mutual recognition.
On the contrary, De Beauvoir does mention “why menenslaved women in the first place” and that “it might have led to acollaboration between the two sexes” (De Beauvoir 429). However, she mentionsthat men enslaved women “by means of identification with the other” (DeBeauvoir 429). She believes that men oppressed women so that they are able totranscend while, the women are still confined to the society, immersed in herown immanence. Byrecognizing the female, the male attempts to “find himself” as a stableidentity through oppression and “the devaluation of femininity” to transcend asthe male figure.
According to De Beauvoir, “man is concerned with the effort toappear male, important, superior” (De Beauvoir 429). Men want to betranscendent, and they desire the freedom to make choices and to carry outprojects of their choice. De Beauvoir illustrates that man is afraid of losinghis dignity and honor and that “he is afraid of the personage, the image, withwhich he identifies himself” will be non-existent (De Beauvoir 429). Due toworrying about his “image,” De Beauvoir illustrates the struggle between thetranscendence and the immanence and the battle between the two sexes. Shebelieves that in order for man to find himself a stable identity he needs tosuppress “the other” (women) so that he (man) can transcend above “the other” tofulfill his projects and desires. Human existence, according to De Beauvoir, isan interplay of these forces: immanence and transcendence. However, throughoutgenerations, men, being privileged with his transcendence, have alwaysrelinquished the existential right of women to transcend forcing her to be confinedwithin society’s standards, so that men are able to “find themselves.
” Ironically,by finding himself a “stable identity,” man is falling into bad faith becauseman wants to achieve a transcendent identity that is permanent and once becausehuman beings desire permanence. Additionally, man wants a permanent identitythat is recognized in the eyes of his woman and seen as the provider andprotector of the household. Therefore, man establishes an “image” that is “permanent”because it does not change, and this is bad faith because man is denying hisfreedom to continue changing his transcendent image.
Via control anddomination, man suppresses woman in order to identify himself of who he is andcreates an image and persona of what he is, while a woman becomes atranscendent existent trapped in her own immanence of the being. DeBeauvoir believes that the construct of femininity is itself, as Sartre putsit, a product of bad faith because “one is not born, but rather becomes, awoman” (De Beauvoir). Basically, De Beauvoir is saying is that society with allits rules and regulations are confining women to “be a woman.” Since thebeginning of time, women have been considered to be a certain way and that theyare not considered to be “womanly” if they do something out of line. DeBeauvoir is challenging the notion of feminine mystique, which is the idea thatwoman’s role in society is to be a wife, mother, and housewifeand nothing else. However, De Beauvoir is right that the construct offemininity is a product of bad faith because one is acceptingthat they do not have free will because society is imposing certain standardson them (facticity). Furthermore, logically speaking it makes sense that ifsomeone is taught their entire life to look like a “women,” behave like a”women,” and play a submissive role in the household and in jobs, it is goingto affect one’s freedom and authenticity.
The construct of femininity is aproduct of bad faith because society teaches that women should be a certain wayand thus it is society is suppressing the women into the confinement of her ownimmanence. Bad faith is a lie about oneself that can deny not only our freedom,but also our facticity. De Beauvoir mentions that even though a female is grownup as a “woman” because society is imposing those characteristics on a her, shechooses to continue to be “the women” society wants her to be. By choosing tocontinue to be a woman because of her facticity and denying her freedom, thisis why De Beauvoir says that the construct of femininity is a product of badfaith. By lying to oneself and denying one’s freedom and facticity, De Beauvoirillustrates that the construct of femininity is a product of bad faith becausewomen allow themselves to be confined by identities that society imposes onthem, and their choices to be ruled by society’s identities that are imposed onthem do not reflect who they truly are.
Women have the option to rebel,for instance, and demand rights that were stolen from them. They have the rightto demand their rights from the men who have oppressed them, but yet theychoose to continue to be a “women,” and according to De Beauvoir, this is badfaith. Clearly, the construct of femininity is a product of bad faith. Indeed, the concept of bad faith, byJean-Paul Sartre, underlies Simone De Beauvoir’s concept of the so-called”battle of the sexes” to illustrate the struggle for recognition between themales trying to transcend while trapping the females in their own immanence.This struggle for recognition further illustrates how males finds a “stableidentity” of himself by oppressing women and fleeing from one’s anxiety fromcontinuingly changing one’s identity.
Lastly, De Beauvoir illustrates that theconstruct of femininity is itself a product of bad faith.