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A Comparison Of "The Other" And "Double Conciousness" By Pj

1424 words - 6 pages

Simone de Beauvoir and W.E.B. DuBois were existentialists whose ideas were reflected in their works The Second Sex and The Souls of Black Folk respectively. They wrote in response to the dominant theories surrounding the cause of and the answer to the discrimination faced by women and blacks. Both, sharing the existentialist mindset, believed neither women nor blacks were born into their individual lifestyles as the weaker gender or race. Living a life of subordination and submissiveness was the catalyst for inequality. Beauvoir's notion of the "Other" and DuBois' theory of "double consciousness" are parallel ideas that shed light on the plight of women and blacks. Their dual aim was to construct a plan for women and blacks to follow in order to destroy their inferior roles created by society and to also disprove the prevailing ideas concerning the discrimination they faced. Beauvoir's ultimate goal was to empower women to throw off the shackles of sexism and to escape from the position of the "Other." DuBois aimed to lift the veil that covered the view blacks had of the society in which they lived. Their desires were radical at the time but proved to be foreshadowing the truth time would expose.The "Other" that Beauvoir writes of deals with the assertion that a dominant group defines itself by creating an "Other" with traits and characteristics that the dominant group does not have. As such, the "Other" refers to any "marginalized, exploited, subjugated, dominated, or oppressed group." In Beauvoir's mind men have created this position for women to occupy. Historically, a woman's place in society has been cemented by social and economic norms decreeing women to be dependent on men. Beauvoir cites the exclusion of women from the public sphere of production as an example. Therefore, women became financially dependent on men resulting in the further subjection of women. Women were relegated to the private sphere of domestic life and taking care of the home and raising the children. The new opportunities for financial independence and self-determination supplied by the rise of capitalism and the industrial revolution did not shift the balance between the sexes. Women continued to live "disperse among the males, attached through residence, housework, economic condition, and social standing to certain men - fathers or husbands - more firmly than they are to other women." Women were still not unified and were unable to form a common identity.This dependence on men only resulted in further strengthening the ties women had to the characteristics of the "Other" as adjectives like irrational, timid, weak, inferior, and tender were attributed to females. One of Beauvoir's most important ideas focused on the relationship between the "Other" and the lack of humanity women must live with. A female trapped in the role of the "Other" can only define herself in terms of the male, his definition of what a woman should be and what her role in society is. Therefore...

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