Gender Socialization and Oppression Analysis of Simone de Beauvoir’s “Second Sex”

The Introduction to “The Second Sex” refers possibly to women as a subordinate model or a second in line or rather a second woman, perhaps a transgender woman. If one were to become a woman, what would be regarded as the necessary traits that make up a woman? Beauvoir describes: “clothes, faces, bodies, smiles, gaits, interests and occupations” as specific details that may be significant in the classification of a woman versus that of a man. Gender socialization may have been seen by Beauvoir as oppression, which may have inspired a detour towards in fact a feminine male or a varied male species that replaces, what may have been thought of as oppressive. Beauvoir’s “Second Sex” may be a manifesto for a new female, not merely her designation or role in society but quite, literally a transgender woman who may be better equipped for man’s exercise of strength. “In this essay, I will argue, contrary to Beauvoir, that feminine gender socialization is not the cause of women’s oppression.”

It is not clear in Beauvoir’s essay if she has any admiration for woman or bares any likeness to the original female design. Beauvoir writes in the third page of her essay that “man can think of himself without women.” Beauvoir stressed examples such as “man as an absolute” and “woman as other” and “subjugation of the weaker by the stronger.” Feminine gender socialization suggests that girls do this and boys do that. Women may very well have been impacted by tyrannical forces desirous of domination with little regard for the peace or joy of their subject or conquest, however what specifically did women’s roles play in woman’s oppression?

In a girl’s hand, a mother can place a butterfly and in her son’s hand she places a stone. The girl grows up to be a fairy and the boy grows up to be a sage. Gender socialization doesn’t require oppression.   Gender socialization needs respect. Gender socialization in a healthy society not driven towards domination is collaboration to reach a goal and represents a cooperative model. The cooperative model utilizes unique species traits and assigns them to specific tasks. What dictates whether or not gender socialization is oppressive has to do with the design and health of parties involved as well as the design of their government and nature of their goals.

For example, the American South that partook in slavery is likely to be misogynistic, with a tendency towards male domination as was suggested by their historical behavior. Slavery may have more to do with domination, than it does with whatever jersey or skin those tyrannical forces may pursue. In a healthy society, gender roles may be complimentary, collaborative and cooperative and not represent an oppressive intersection, but a beautiful one.

Do we need to first ask, what are examples of gender socialization and what is oppression, then where and how do those two forces collide? Or for whom does this thesis hold true, are there specific groups for whom gender socialization is oppressive and others for which it is altogether different? Or the third point, that one species a “macho” is oppressing another species a “femme” perhaps due to their intrinsic designs.

Is gender socialization oppression?

Beauvoir highlighted extreme cases of oppression due to gender socialization even Jews giving thanks in their prayers to not have been born a woman. Beauvoir expressed that social causes may impact a woman’s disposition in such a way that she is unaware of its social origin. Woman may have had to battle for rights, for education, for work and to minimize the impact of domestic affairs which may constitute oppression derivative of gender socialization. However feminine gender socialization is not tandem with oppression, though historically perhaps dating back to the Middle Ages, may be wrought in despair.


In this essay, I argued, contrary to Beauvoir, that feminine gender socialization is not the cause of women’s oppression. Feminine gender socialization is not tandem with oppression, nor is it a requirement of oppression. In a healthy society, feminine roles may be employed to run a cooperative system or to collaborate or complement one another.


Cudd, Ann E. & Andreasen, Robin O., Feminist Theory:  A Philosophical Anthology, 2005

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