Feminisms, Existential

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Feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir's pronouncement “One is not born, but rather becomes, woman” could rightfully mark the birth of an existential feminism. Indeed, de Beauvoir's Second Sex, originally published in 1949 in French and first translated into English in 1953 and again in 2009, remains the founding work for an existential philosophical approach to examining the condition of women. Existential feminism takes as its point of departure the notions that (1) woman is the product of social and cultural construction and (2) woman is Other, but this approach also explores how freedom can only be achieved through the freedom of all human beings. The legacies of existential feminism are wide-ranging, as it went on to shape later feminist theoretical engagements, including “French feminisms” and postmodern feminist theory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies
EditorsNancy Naples
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • existentialism
  • feminisms
  • French
  • philosophy
  • ethics


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