The letter came on Saturday! I was accepted!
Here’s the essay I sent in with my application! Many thanks to Jennifer Epstein for helping with the editing of this piece!! It’s only 5 paragraphs so…Enjoy!
Simone de Beauvior
A reigning queen of feminism and one of the most intellectual philosophers of her day, Simone de Beauvoir is really just your typical woman. de Beauvoir spoke out against the patriarchal ideology which devalued females, adamant that women should not participate in such cultural nonsense. She encouraged women to rise above the cultural standards imposed upon them by “the man’s world” in order to find liberation. She was passionate about helping others come to understand the societal oppression faced by women, especially in regard to their relationships with men. Yet she herself was unable to avoid one of the very things she worked so hard to fight: the exploitation of women at the hands of abusive and self-centered men.
It is well known that de Beauvoir was the life-long partner of Jean-Paul Sartre, one of the world’s most influential and famous male philosophers of his time. de Beauvoir considered him her “superior;” she is even quoted as saying she never felt intellectually stimulated until meeting him. However the core of their relationship was based not on intelligence, but rather on their idea of sexual freedom. de Beauvoir was intimately involved in all aspects of Sartre’s life – including inspecting women who wished to have sexual affairs with him and getting rid of those who became a nuisance due to emotional attachment. Paul Johnson (Sartre’s academic superior) stated that “[t]here [were] few worst cases of a man exploiting a woman:” [sic] she “became Sartre’s slave from almost their first meeting and remained such for all her adult life until he died.” Johnson described de Beauvoir as being Sartre’s “mistress, … cook and manager, female bodyguard, … nurse [and eventually] a sexually-retired, pseudo-wife” to whom Sartre left nothing upon his death. Instead, Sartre actually adopted one of his younger mistresses and left his entire estate (all finances and literary works) to her in his will.
de Beauvoir exemplified the ultimate devaluation of a woman when she, being a well educated woman, willfully participated in a life long relationship in which she was willing to give everything and was given nothing in return. She allowed herself to be wholly exploited by Sartre. It is said that even Sartre’s existential philosophy was positively influenced by de Beauvoir and while she, at the time, may have thought him her superior, many philosophers now stand in agreement that she was actually the more intelligent of the two. Yet she was involved in a relationship with a man who allowed her to think of herself as the inferior, where the whole of her life was completely devalued, and where she was disregarded as nothing more than a piece of sexual property.
Her relationship with Sartre was abusive, and she was a codependent enabler. Sartre might have been well cultured, well read, and well studied, but he seems to be nothing more than a male chauvinist. And de Beauvoir might have been well cultured, well read, and well studied, but she seems to me to be nothing more than the typical doormat wife — except she just never married him. de Beauvoir may not have been aware of the extreme irony in her life and she might even disagree with me by defending her position in the relationship. She might call the relationship healthy, productive and meaningful but, is that not almost the typical response we get today from battered women? They are “OK,” and we just “don’t understand the complex relationship” and they can “take care of their man” if we’ll just “mind our own business.”
Simone de Beauvoir accomplished much in bringing to attention the need for women around the world to stand up against cultural oppression. Patriarchy, as expressed in past and present cultures, does devalue women and it is unfortunate that women choose to participate in such counter-productive relationships. However, more considerable than de Beauvoir’s life’s work is really her life’s story. She seemed to live completely juxtaposed to her own ideology, a woman trapped in an abusive relationship living the very kind of oppressive life that she had spent fighting to free other women from. In examining the lifelong relationship de Beauvoir had with Sartre, one can see that really, beneath it all, she was just your typical woman.