Thursday, January 09, 2014


Simone de Beauvoir is the latest dead celebrity to get the 'Google Doodle' accolade. Not sure where us men stand in the second decade of the 21st Century regarding feminist icons, are supposed to acknowledge them or is that considered sexism?

Anyway, and I apologise to any passing feminists, De Beauvoir's most famous work 'The Second Sex' may be one of the great works on feminist philosophy and the history of the treatment of women but I can't help thinking that like many of the 'great works' of philosophy it is far too deep and meaningful for most of us. One of the criticisms of the work is that it shows De Beauvoir to be just as guilty of being as misogynous as those men she criticises and there has been much debate over the last thirty years or so as to whether or not she actually liked women at all and whether or not her views have been pursued blindly and actually set the role of women in society back a few decades.

In 1960 De Beauvoir along with John Paul Sartre met Che Guevara in Cuba.  Sartre praised Guevara after the meeting calling him ' the most complete human being of our time' and as the couple were both Marxists I'm sure they had plenty to talk about. It's quite possible that her appearance as a 'Google Doodle' will lead more people to investigate Marxism which is certainly the flavour of the month/year in intellectual and political circles.

One of the joys of the Internet is the abundance of material that has now been digitalised and made available that would have otherwise remained out of public circulation or requiring a great deal of knowledge and digging to unearth it. There is an interview  with De Beauvoir from 1976 where she discusses her writing and influence and one section that leaps from the page, certainly in the context of other posts I have made this week, is the following: In other words, men are now much more aggressive, vulgar, violent. In my youth we could stroll down Montparnasse or sit in cafés without being molested. Oh, we got smiles, winks, stares, and so on. But now it’s impossible for a woman to sit alone in a café reading a book. And if she’s firm about being left alone when the males accost her, their parting remark is most often salope [bitch] or putain [whore].

Happy 106th Birthday

She looks like Eva Marie Saint in On the Waterfront
As she reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance

Lloyd Cole and The Commotions 1984


Span Ows said...

They don't do Google Doodles every day so surely there are enough events with 'normal' special anniversaries i.e. 100 year, 200 year, 10, 50, 75???

Had to laugh at your Marxism comment, maybe you can try that in the titles when the lyrics etc fade :-)

Paul said...

I think Google try to mix it up between reflecting what's in the news and setting the 'agenda'.

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