Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-wg55d Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-24T02:01:56.221Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

13 - Beauvoir and biology: a second look

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2006

Claudia Card
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Get access

Summary

Among the many eminently quotable lines from the corpus of Sigmund Freud are those concerning his supposition about the response of the young girl when she first sees the penis of a sibling or playmate: “She makes her judgement and her decision in a flash. She has seen it and knows that she is without it and wants to have it.” Even if a generous reader were to grant Freud his contentious supposition, a question remains: what does the girl see, and judge, on a second, or a third, or even a fourth look? According to Simone de Beauvoir, Freud's judgment about the role anatomy plays in the formation of the psychic life of women is based on “a masculine model” and envy “could not arise from a simple anatomical comparison.” “[T]his outgrowth,” Beauvoir continues, “this weak little rod of flesh can in itself inspire [young girls] only with indifference, or even disgust. The little girl's covetousness, when it exists, results from a previous evaluation of virility. Freud takes this for granted, when it should be accounted for.”

Taking little for granted, Beauvoir argues that whether girls will judge the penis to be enviable, “insignificant, or even laughable” (SS 300) will depend on its importance, its symbolic and social value “within the totality of their lives.” In any event, whatever attitude a girl may adopt, “it is wrong to assert that a biological datum is concerned” (SS 307). Unlike Freud, Beauvoir endeavors to offer a comprehensive account of girls’ and women’s desires, attitudes, and judgments as these are formed within the totality of their always situated existences.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×