The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the role the French author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir played in the development of women's movement in general and feminist intellectual achievements in particular. The paper explores Beauvoir's intellectual struggle to urge women to get rid of the manacles of the patriarchal system, which had long imprisoned them within its norms and values, denying them the freedom and autonomy they deserve as equal human beings. Tracing the different trends and waves of feminism, the paper shows how feminists developed their quest from basic civil rights such as equal contract and property to cultural and political rights like abortion and autonomy, considering patriarchy as a political rather than a social institution. To show Beauvoir's significance in this respect, the paper delves into her influence on feminist academics and authors, with special emphasis on the notable feminist critic Kate Millet for the simple reason that many critics consider the latter's Sexual Politics as the foundation of what is called radical or second wave of feminism, minimizing or even ignoring Beauvoir's effect. Beauvoir's works, mainly The Second Sex, which explores women's image in literature, biological and scientific studies, and psychoanalysis, inspired women activists all over the world and led feminist theories to become of the most important in the field of literary criticism.
Lutfi Hamadi, Beirut Arab University, Lebanon
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