“In those rare instances in which she holds the position of economic and social privilege, the mystery is reversed, showing that it does not pertain to one sex rather than the other, but to the situation. For a great many women the roads to transcendence are blocked: because they do nothing, the fail to make themselves anything. They wonder indefinitely what they could have become, which sets them to asking about what they are” (1269-70).
The article by Simone De Beauvoir was intriguing in a sense that it was published prior to the sexual revolution in America, but after the women’s suffrage movement. Woman as the “other,” is an interesting aspect, in that I don’t believe as much thought and devotion is given to this idea in American history conversations as it should. Women were not allowed to vote until the early 1900’s, which is baffling and it’s also interesting when you research the ideas present in woman as a “mystery,” and women’s inability to express themselves sexually without grave repercussions. Men, especially men of power, were permitted to have mistresses and wives, or if not permitted, it wasn’t as scandalous as if a woman were to have both a husband and a lover.
The paragraph above is interesting in that De Beauvoir seems to insist the nature of some women to be inactive or merely sit on the sidelines while others fight for absolute equality with men. Being viewed as a mystery also relates to being viewed as an “other” in terms of physical and social settings. She seems to question some women’s tactics of wondering what could have been for their lives if they had acted, instead of acted and see where they could have eventually risen to. Equality in the work place or government bureaucracy, especially, were focus points for women’s rights, and the author simply is pointing out, similar to Martin Luther King in the 1960’s, that the “other” should not wait to be handed their equality, they must get it for themselves. If one waits for the oppressor to hand down equality, they will are still relying on the oppressor, and need to find their individuality and freedom.