July 20, 2014

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“A SOCIALIST ETHICS WILL FIND EMBARRASSING THE PROBLEMS POSED BY THE CONDITION OF WOMEN.” Simone DeBeauvoir

“A truly socialist ethics, concerned to uphold justice without suppressing liberty and to impose duties upon individuals without abolishing individuality, will find most embarrassing the problems posed by the condition of woman. It is impossible simply to equate gestation with a task, a piece of work, or with a service, such as military service. Woman’s life is more seriously broken in upon by a demand for children than by regulation of the citizen’s employment- no state has ever ventured to establish obligatory copulation. In the sexual act and in maternity not only time and strength but also essential values are involved for a woman. Rationalist materialism tries in vain to disregard this dramatic aspect of sexuality; for it is impossible to bring the sexual instinct under a code of regulations. Indeed, as Freud said, it is not sure that it does not bear within itself a denial of its own satisfaction. What is certain is that it does not permit of integration with the social, because there is in eroticism a revolt of the instant against time, of the individual against the universal. In proposing to direct and exploit it, there is the risk of killing it, for it is impossible to deal at will with living spontaneity as one deals with inert matter; and no more can be obtained by force, as a privilege may be. Simone DeBeavoir, 1952: The Second Sex. Translation by H.M. Parshley. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. pp. 59

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