One is not born women

One is not born women




Statement : One is not born women, one become women :

(1).  the defining statement of feminism that is radical feminism

(2).  Radical feminism challenges essential ism.  it also challenges biological determinism. 

 one of the strongest theory undermining the equality  between men and women and  establishing  it as Natural fact.

 hence radical feminism question biological determinism 

 Simone-de-beauvoir write “ one is not born women” 

 it questions biological determinism

 that's subordinate status of women is because of her biology Rather they established .  it is because of the society or social practices. 

 thus simone-de-beauvoir  makes distinction between sex and gender. 

 according to simone de beauvoir  there is no woman problem, it is men problem

 just like there is no black problem it is white problem just like there is no jews problem

 it is Europeans problem. 

She suggest that being a Jew is a problem in Europe and not in Israel similarly Being black is a problem because  we live in a society which  establishes Hegemony of white over black ( racist society)

 She suggest that being women is not a problem In itself but it is a problem in a society. which is patriarchal thus she wants to show that in order to address the problem of women we have to change patriarchy or patriarchal society.

Patriarchal society compels women to live in the state of immense. It does not give the scope for women for transcendence. Thus in case of woman biology seems to define her destiny women are not given choice if any woman tries to assault transcendence the woman has to face huge resistance.

She suggested that there is no woman problem. it is men’s problem in order to address the problem of Men we have to first define what is woman ?


Can women be define ?

According to her woman is provisional

Means there is no final definition of what is women

Why provisional? 

Because we cannot define women on its own/Independent term, Woman is defined with reference to men.


Who is woman? 

One who is not Men. If definition of men will change definition of women will automatically change thus there is no independent criteria to define women thus women are defined only with reference to men.


What is woman?

The other, “second sex”

Thus man is first sex and women is the other sex that is the second sex.

Not just second but secondary sex. 

The secondary status of the woman is the result of othering.

Othering is the process of creating of identity.


How be create our identity ?

We create Our identity with reference to others


how we decide we are good?

Whatever we have, we decide that is good by first pointing out what others have as bad.

Means what we have good is decided by what others have bad. (Comparative term)

Since women were not given opportunity to make laws women are subjected to the laws made by men.

Men declared himself as the first sex and woman as the second sex. men left all those functions on women which they don't find worth doing

For example men cannot give birth to the child but it doesn't mean that they cannot take Care the child also. However they have assigned even the role of taking care of child to women.


What should be objective of women ?

Reject the essence given to them by the society, assert their own existence. her statement one is not born woman is based on Sartre view that existence is prior to essence, is what others give in this situation person became an object. person is denied personhood, freedom to make choices.


Existence : 

It is a recognition of person self, person’s freedom to define his existence. in this case person is a subject and not object subject means having consciousness of its own.

Object means lack consciousness thus she suggests that women should assert their status as a subject and reject their status as object like sartre. She also suggests that women should develop good faith means believe in oneself.

Woman should reject bad faith.

Believe in God (Tradition/ culture/ Superstitious)

Especially those which are responsible for subordination of women.


Other prominent feminist scholars (radical)

  1.  Kate Millet (Socialist feminist) (Marxist + radical)

Book: Sexual politics

She suggests that Marxist should go beyond politics of class they should also talk about politics between sexes


what is politics?

Politics is about power

Thus in our society there is not just subordination of poor by reach there is also subordination of women by men.


What about poor woman?

They are under dual burden poverty and patriarchy


What about black women?

Triple burden : Poverty patriarchy and racism.


What about Dalit woman in India ?

They are under the burden of patriarchy poverty racism and casteism


Concept of intersectionality

The concept has been given by kimberle crenshaw


What does this reflect?

Women are not a single homogeneous group there are internal differentiation


How does this concept help?

Guide to policy maker to avoid one size fit for all situation


  1.  Shula Smith Firestone

Book : Dialectics of sex

Her views are more extreme in comparison to Kate Millet

Shula Smith Firestone is anti men according to her men actually hate women

Hence women Should away from Men.  In any relationship between men and women women are bound to get hurt.  


On Behalf of All Men : {  i and All Men do not believe in this philosophy, Even Men are most Prone to hurt in Relationship with women laughlaughlaugh}


Such ideas give rise to lesbianism(anti men)

Gradually such thinking will get evolved into gender studies. If feminism is about women. gender is broader term :-> The concept of LGBTQ community and the issue of their right

Although who suffer from patriarchy (Third wave of feminism)


  1.  Susan Brown Miller

Book : “against our will”


She has analysed rape

She concluded that rape has nothing to do with sexual desire it is an institution of patriarchy. the ultimate institution of patriarchy

Patriarchy represent violence against women.


Purpose of rape

To keep all women under fear all the time.

To make women live in the permanent state of insecurity. It is a disciplinary measure to prevent women from challenging patriarchy.


3rd wave feminism


Becomes more diverse in nature because of emergence of multiple strands within feminism which are often contradictory to each other.


Post feminism : 


Susan Faludi : 

Book:  backlash

There has been blacklash against feminism



Because it is being felt that feminist values are harmful for the society there has been opposition from the church



Because it has been held responsible for destruction of families and impact on children hence church has proposed new form of feminism means both men and women should treat each other with respect there is another strand in post feminism which suggests to celebrate womanhood means going in opposition to the ideas of radical feminist. means oppose essentialism where as post feminism supports essentialism.


Black feminism


Scholars: Angela Davis, Bell hooks

They highlighted that women are not a homogeneous group. problems of black women are different from white women, created from the concept of intersectionality overlapping discriminations.


Eco feminism : 

Scholars: Eugene Dubois, mary Daly, Vandana Siva

Theme:  Essential feminism :  rejection of radical feminism

Woman has no essence. they can not generalized. No essential famine qualities.

On the other hand eco feminists are essentialist means there are essential famine qualities


What are these qualities according to eco feminist ? 

Women are closer to nature by nature.


What is the objective behind such thinking ?

To give culturality to women in projection of environment


Why such thinking?

Women have been the major participants in environmental movement for example if we talk about Chipko movement it was led by women.


Why women are closer to nature?

By nature.

The fundamental difference in the nature of men and women is that women are Supportive and Protective by nature.

Whereas men are Consumerist by nature hence women are in better position to protect nature. 

Because of the nature of their work women are engaged in those types of work which are closer to nature and more development to nature

  1. Household work :  fetching wood and water
  2. Agriculture :  Primarily women are engaged in agriculture

Since they are more dependent on nature they would be more adversely impacted by environmental degradation.

Hence they will be more serious in working for protection of environment hence empowering women means protecting environment.

They also believe that nature is also women or famines so any stretches of protecting environment has to keep environment of women at the center.

For example every SDG (Sustainable development goal) Goal treats women at the center.


Postmodern feminism : 

Post structuralism

Believed that there is not one set of reality.

It is multi dimensionalism

It means there is not one way to define women.

There can be infinite way of defining women we should not create meta narrative (generalization)


Post structuralism : 

  • It is a criticism of structuralism. Structuralism believes that Language can express the truth. 
  • Post a structure list believed that language cannot express the truth
  • A structuralist look at reality in binary terms (Like men and women, day and night, black and white)
  • There is post a structuralist look things in Continuum not in Binary.

Raj Singh

Hi There. I'm a professional Educator Cum Entrepreneur. Have done Technical as well as Professional Degree, Having Experience of 10 years as Educator and 8 Years of Entrepreneurship.

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