The Second Sex Questions and Answers
by Simone de Beauvoir

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What myths about women does Simone de Beauvoir refer to in The Second Sex?

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In her book, Beauvoir examines why women are treated as inferior and subordinate to men. In studying this issue through the lenses of history, biology and psychology, she finds much evidence that women have been treated as inferior but no logical reasons why this should be so. Therefore, she concludes that myths or false stories have been constructed to justify treating women as second class and in defining them as mutilated or incomplete men.

Myths include the myth of maternity or the "eternal feminine" that defines woman by her reproductive capacity and robs her of her individuality in favor of casting her as the abstract symbol of "life."

Another myth is that menstruation is a threat that becomes much exaggerated. Beauvoir writes

... since patriarchy, only harmful powers have been attributed to the bizarre liquor flowing from the feminine sex. Pliny in his Natural History says: “The menstruating woman spoils harvests, devastates gardens, kills seeds, makes fruit fall, kills bees; if she...

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