Revolutionary and incendiary, The Second Sex is one of the earliest attempts to confront human history from a feminist perspective. It won de Beauvoir many admirers and just as many detractors. Today, many regard this massive and meticulously researched masterwork as not only as pillar of feminist thought but of twentieth-century philosophy in general. Man occupies the role of the self, or subject; woman is the object, the other.
The Second Sex Book Summary (PDF) by Simone de Beauvoir
The Second Sex - Wikipedia
Within the first volume, de Beauvoir first focuses on biology, psychoanalysis, and historical materialism as three different, flawed theories for explaining the female condition. Biology cannot account for the ways in which society conditions people to treat one another. Psychoanalysis ignores the question of why people are driven by certain motivations to begin with. This first part allows de Beauvoir to establish what kinds of explanations she will be working against when she provides her own theories in the following sections. She begins by tracing the ways in which primitive societies already mistreated women and regarded them as inferior to men.