De Beauvoir experienced: it takes courage to be free – with Jannah Loontjens

De Beauvoir experienced: it takes courage to be free – with Jannah Loontjens

“On ne naît pas femme, on le devient”: You are not a woman, you become a woman.

That is one of the most famous quotes from The Second Sex, the 800-page book with which Simone de Beauvoir started the second feminist wave in 1948. The words characterize the problem that plagued and continues to plague women: it is not anatomical characteristics, but socially imposed rules that make someone a “woman”.

Fortunately, she also had a solution. You can choose to live differently. You are already free in your relationship to the world around you – it just takes courage to behave accordingly.

In her long-term romantic relationship with the French writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, she set an example: the two turned against marriage and allowed each other sexual freedom with others. Although they envied and hurt each other, they remained related in love and in the adherence to existentialism, until death.

De Beauvoir died in 1986. But we are still discussing the role of women in the public domain and the conditions for a free and authentic existence. How can Simone de Beauvoir still help us with these issues today? And how exactly is her vision dated? Michel Krielaars discusses it with book editor Rosan Hollak and writer and philosopher Jannah Loontjens.

This is the sixth installment of a series about books that changed the world.

Michel Krielaars
Rosan Hollak & Jannah Loontjens
Editing & editing:
Jeanne Geerken