How does Beauvoir compare the position of women to other marginalized groups?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Beauvoir uses the Hegelian concept of master-slave dialectic to reduce femininity to an Other that is mastered, much as any slave in human culture must be dehumanized to justify enslavement. Instead of using Hegel’s slave and master terms, Beauvoir uses Subject and Other to reveal how anyone, not just women, can be compartmentalized, reduced, and thus made less in society’s eyes by becoming an Other.

Beauvoir states that “One is not born but becomes woman,” meaning that every woman learns through culture—starting with parents, then school and a gradual introduction to social norms—the subtle differences that make a woman an Other. In the same fashion, marginalized ethnic groups and even generations of slave culture are gradually indoctrinated with an Other mentality.

Just as some learn through their cultural education to become Others, so, too, do some learn to become Subjects. Male education teaches men the otherness view that subjugates women, much as any culture that endorses slavery teaches its masters their roles.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial