120+ Best Simone de Beauvoir Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir was a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist. Profoundly inspirational Simone de Beauvoir quotes will encourage you to think a little deeper than you usually would and broaden your perspective.

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Famous Simone de Beauvoir Quotes

In every society the artist or writer remains an outsider. – Simone de Beauvoir

Can one say that there is a way of crying out, of speaking, which is properly feminine? Personally, I don’t think so. In the end, I find this is another way of putting women in a kind of singularity, a ghetto, which is not what I want. I want them to be singular and universal at the same time. – Simone de Beauvoir

Ah, if only there were two of me, she thought, one who spoke and the other who listened, one who lived and one who watched, how I would love myself! I would envy no one. – Simone de Beauvoir

If her functioning as a female is not enough to define woman, if we decline also to explain her through the eternal feminine, and if nevertheless we admit, provisionally, that women do exist, then we must face the question: what is a woman? – Simone de Beauvoir

It’s true that this is one of the problems which often arises among my radical, revolutionary feminist friends: Do you have to join the system or not? On the one hand, if you don’t, you risk being ineffectual. But if you do, from that moment on, you place your feminism at the service of a system which you want to take apart. – Simone de Beauvoir

There is something false in this search for a purely feminine writing style. Language, such as it is, is inherited from a masculine society, and it contains many male prejudices. We must rid language of all that. Still, a language is not something created artificially; the proletariat can’t use a different language from the bourgeoisie, even if they use it differently, even if from time to time they invent something, technical words or even a kind of worker’s slang, which can be very beautiful and very rich. Women can do that as well, enrich their language, clean it up. – Simone de Beauvoir

I never thought of myself as being in the avant-garde. I said what I had to say, as I was able to say it. – Simone de Beauvoir

Fathers never have exactly the daughters they want because they invent a notion a them that the daughters have to conform to. – Simone de Beauvoir

Two separate beings, in different circumstances, face to face in freedom and seeking justification of their existence through one another, will always live an adventure full of risk and promise. (p. 248) – Simone de Beauvoir

The state of emotional intoxication allows one to grasp existence in one’s self and in the other, as both subjectivity and passivity. The two partners merge in this ambiguous unity; each one is freed of his own presence and achieves immediate communication with the other. – Simone de Beauvoir

The notion of ambiguity must not be confused with that of absurdity. To declare that existence is absurd is to deny that it can ever be given a meaning; to say that it is ambiguous is to assert that its meaning is never fixed, that it must be constantly won. Absurdity challenges every ethics; but also the finished rationalization of the real would leave no room for ethics; it is because man’s condition is ambiguous that he seeks, through failure and outrageousness, to save his existence. – Simone de Beauvoir

What would Prince Charming have for occupation if he had not to awaken the Sleeping beauty? – Simone de Beauvoir

Harmony between two individuals is never granted-it has to be conquered indefinitely. – Simone de Beauvoir

If I were proud of anything in my life, it would be of our love. I feel we have to tell to each other as many things as we can, so we are not only lovers, but the closest of friends at the same time. – Simone de Beauvoir

Some things I loved have vanished. A great many others have been given to me – Simone de Beauvoir

We must not confuse the present with the past. With regard to the past, no further action is possible. – Simone de Beauvoir

Between women love is contemplative; caresses are intended less to gain possession of the other than gradually to re-create the self through her; separateness is abolished, there is no struggle, no victory, no defeat; in exact reciprocity each is at once subject and object, sovereign and slave; duality become mutuality. – Simone de Beauvoir

The point is not for women simply to take power out of men’s hands, since that wouldn’t change anything about the world. It’s a question precisely of destroying that notion of power. – Simone de Beauvoir

The individual is defined only by his relationship to the world and to other individuals; he exists only by transcending himself, and his freedom can be achieved only through the freedom of others. He justifies his existence by a movement which, like freedom, springs from his heart but which leads outside of himself. – Simone de Beauvoir

Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it. – Simone de Beauvoir

It is in great part the anxiety of being a woman that devastates the feminine body. – Simone de Beauvoir

Capabilities are clearly manifested only when they have been realized. – Simone de Beauvoir

One can hardly tell women that washing up saucepans is their divine mission, [so] they are told that bringing up children is their divine mission. But the way things are in the world, bringing up children has a great deal in common with washing up saucepans. – Simone de Beauvoir

That a whole part of the middle class detests me… is utterly normal. I would be troubled if the contrary were true. – Simone de Beauvoir

No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. – Simone de Beauvoir

Society cares about the individual only in so far as he is profitable. The young know this. Their anxiety as they enter in upon social life matches the anguish of the old as they are excluded from it. – Simone de Beauvoir

There is no such thing as a natural death: nothing that happens to a man is ever natural, since his presence calls the world into question. All men must die: but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation. – Simone de Beauvoir

The body is not a thing, it is a situation: it is our grasp on the world and our sketch of our project – Simone de Beauvoir

That is what chills your spine when you read an account of a suicide: not the frail corpse hanging from the window bars but what happened inside that heart immediately before. – Simone de Beauvoir

In a way, literature is true than life,’ he said to himself. ‘On paper, you say exactly and completely what you feel. How easy it is to break things off on paper! You hate, you shout, you kill, you commit suicide; you carry things to the very end. And that’s why it’s false. But it’s damned satisfying. In life, you’re constantly denying yourself, and others are always contradicting you. On paper, I make time stand still and I impose my convictions on the whole world; they become the only reality. – Simone de Beauvoir

I think that where you go wrong is that you imagine that your reasons for living ought to fall on you, ready-made from heaven, whereas we have to find them for ourselves. – Simone de Beauvoir

To give space when what one most yearns for is closeness, that is both the great test and great tragedy of love. – Simone de Beauvoir

Each of us is responsible for everything and to every human being. – Simone de Beauvoir

To show your true ability is always, in a sense, to surpass the limits of your ability,to go a little beyond them: to dare, to seek, to invent; it is at sucha moment that new talents are revealed, discovered, and realized – Simone de Beauvoir

Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay. – Simone de Beauvoir

I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth – and truth rewarded me. – Simone de Beauvoir

immortality is a terrible curse. – Simone de Beauvoir

Defending the truth is not something one does out of a sense of duty or to allay guilt complexes, but is a reward in itself. – Simone de Beauvoir

Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day. The housewife wears herself out marking time: she makes nothing, simply perpetuates the present … Eating, sleeping, cleaning – the years no longer rise up towards heaven, they lie spread out ahead, grey and identical. The battle against dust and dirt is never won. – Simone de Beauvoir

Given masculine norms, it is clear that women are more likely to be considered crazy – I’m not saying to be crazy. – Simone de Beauvoir

The past is not a peaceful landscape lying there behind me, a country in which I can stroll wherever I please, and will gradually show me all its secret hills and dales. As I was moving forward, so it was crumbling. Most of the wreckage that can be seen is colourless, distorted, frozen: its meaning escapes me… all that’s left is a skeleton. I shall never find my plans again, my hopes and fears – I shall not find myself. – Simone de Beauvoir

Because we are separated everything separates us, even our efforts to join each other. – Simone de Beauvoir

Old age was growing inside me. It kept catching my eye from the depths of the mirror. I was paralyzed sometimes as I saw it making its way toward me so steadily when nothing inside me was ready for it. – Simone de Beauvoir

To be a woman, if not a defect, is at least a peculiarity. – Simone de Beauvoir

There was a time, in the nineteenth century, for example, when women spoke mostly about the house, children, birth, and so forth, because it was their domain. That’s changing a little, now. – Simone de Beauvoir

The individuals who seem to us most outstanding, who are honored with the name of genius, are those who have proposed to enact the fate of all humanity in their personal existences. – Simone de Beauvoir

I discovered feminism around 1970-72-precisely the time when feminism began to exist in France. Before that, there was no feminism. – Simone de Beauvoir

At the moment of their emancipation, women have a need to write their own histories. – Simone de Beauvoir

A couple who go on living together merely because that was how they began, without any other reason: was that what we were turning into? – Simone de Beauvoir

On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself–on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger. – Simone de Beauvoir

To be free is not to have the power to do anything you like; it is to be able to surpass the given toward an open future. – Simone de Beauvoir

All oppression creates a state of war. – Simone de Beauvoir

There is only one solution if old age is not to be an absurd parody of our former life, and that is to go on pursuing ends that give our existence a meaning. – Simone de Beauvoir

When women act like women, they are accused of being inferior. When women act like human beings, they are accused of behaving like men. – Simone de Beauvoir

it is true that nothing is gained without something being lost: everyone knows that in fulfilling oneself one necessarily sacrifices some possibilities. – Simone de Beauvoir

The nearer I come to the end of my days, the more I am enabled to see that strange thing, a life, and to see it whole. – Simone de Beauvoir

The ballot box is a most inadequate mechanism of change. – Simone de Beauvoir

A man is in the right in being a man; it is the woman who is in the wrong. – Simone de Beauvoir

Live with no time-out. – Simone de Beauvoir

But all day long I would be training myself to think, to understand, to criticize, to know myself; I was seeking for the absolute truth: this preoccupation did not exactly encourage polite conversation. – Simone de Beauvoir

Tonight, once more, life sinks its teeth into my heart. – Simone de Beauvoir

Sex pleasure in woman is a kind of magic spell; it demands complete abandon; if words or movements oppose the magic of caresses, the spell is broken. – Simone de Beauvoir

She was ready to deny the existence of space and time rather than admit that love might not be eternal. – Simone de Beauvoir

There are topics which are common to men and women. I think that if a woman speaks of oppression, of misery, she will speak of it in exactly the same way as a man. But if she speaks of her own personal problems as a woman, she will obviously speak in another way. – Simone de Beauvoir

One day I’ll be old, dead, forgotten. And at this very moment, while I’m sitting here thinking these things, a man in a dingy hotel room is thinking, I will always be here. – Simone de Beauvoir

If you are truly on the left, if you reject ideas of power and hierarchy, what you want is equality. Otherwise, it won’t work at all. – Simone de Beauvoir

I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger. – Simone de Beauvoir

Counselling man to treat her as a slave while persuading her that she is a queen. – Simone de Beauvoir

I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself – Simone de Beauvoir

Christian ideology has contributed no little to the oppression of woman. – Simone de Beauvoir

There is only one good. And that is to act according to the dictates of one’s conscience. – Simone de Beauvoir

Men create their own gods and thus have some slight understanding that they are self-fabricated. Women are much more susceptible, because they are completely oppressed by men; they take men at their word and believe in the gods that men have made up. The situation of women, their culture, makes them kneel more often before the gods that have been created by men than men themselves do, who know what they’ve done. To this extent, women will be more fanatical, whether it is for fascism or for totalitarianism. – Simone de Beauvoir

The word love has by no means the same sense for both sexes, and this is one cause of the serious misunderstandings that divide them. – Simone de Beauvoir

I was made for another planet altogether. I mistook the way. – Simone de Beauvoir

It’s frightening to think that you mark your children merely by being yourself. It seems unfair. You can’t assume the responsibility for everything you do –or don’t do. – Simone de Beauvoir

Literature is always what the dominant ideology recognizes as literature. – Simone de Beauvoir

I like everyone who tries to show that madness is, in large part, conditioned by society and particularly by the family, and therefore, strongly affects women. – Simone de Beauvoir

Oppression tries to defend itself by its utility. – Simone de Beauvoir

To be oneself, simply oneself, is so amazing and utterly unique an experience that it’s hard to convince oneself so singular a thing happens to everybody. – Simone de Beauvoir

There are so many problems. Women can go to work on these as well without giving up their feminism. – Simone de Beauvoir

You have to start from where you are today and from what can be done. – Simone de Beauvoir

She was not to look beyond herself for the meaning of her life. – Simone de Beauvoir

One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine. – Simone de Beauvoir

Since it is the Other within us who is old, it is natural that the revelation of our age should come to us from outside –from others. We do not accept it willingly. – Simone de Beauvoir

As long as the family and the myth of the family have not been destroyed, women will still be oppressed. – Simone de Beauvoir

It’s only arrogance if you’re wrong. – Simone de Beauvoir

It’s important that you think of your relationship with the world and the way you can express that world and that you not be stopped if it scandalizes or embarrasses; but you must not look for scandal or for the avant-garde as a thing in itself. – Simone de Beauvoir

Women have been burnt as witches simply because they were beautiful. – Simone de Beauvoir

I went to get a detective story. You have to kill time. But time will kill me too – and there´s the true, preestablished balance. – Simone de Beauvoir

Patience is one of those feminine qualities which have their origin in our oppression but should be preserved after our liberation. – Simone de Beauvoir

Love and action always imply a failure, but this failure must not keep us from loving and acting. For we have not only to establish what our situation is, we have to choose it in the very heart of its ambiguity. – Simone de Beauvoir

Those interested in perpetuating present conditions are always in tears about the marvelous past that is about to disappear, without having so much as a smile for the young future. – Simone de Beauvoir

Authentic love must be founded on reciprocal recognition of two freedoms. For each of them, love would be the revelation of the self through the gift of the self and the enrichment of the universe. – Simone de Beauvoir

Weakness’ is weakness only in light of the aims man sets for himself, the instruments at his disposal and the laws he imposes. – Simone de Beauvoir

The younger and healthier a woman is and the more her new and glossy body seems destined for eternal freshness, the less useful is artifice; but the carnal weakness of this prey that man takes and its ominous deterioration always have to be hidden from him…In any case, the more traits and proportions of a woman seem contrived, the more she delighted the heart of man because she seemed to escape the metamorphosis of natural things. The result is this strange paradox that by desiring to grasp nature, but transfigured, in woman, man destines her to artifice. – Simone de Beauvoir

Be loved, be admired, be necessary; be somebody. – Simone de Beauvoir

Writing … is a profession that can only be learned by writing. – Simone de Beauvoir

But women do not say ‘We’, except at some congress of feminists or similar formal demonstration; men say ‘women’, and women use the same word in referring to themselves. – Simone de Beauvoir

Anger or revolt that does not get into the muscles remains a figment of the imagination. – Simone de Beauvoir

Marriage is traditionally the destiny offered to women by society. Most women are married or have been, or plan to be or suffer from not being. – Simone de Beauvoir

Legislators, priests, philosophers, writers, ans scientists have striven to show that the subordinate position of woman is willed in heaven and advantageous on earth. – Simone de Beauvoir

The emancipation of women must be the work of women themselves, independent of the class struggle. – Simone de Beauvoir

As soon as a woman refuses to be perfectly happy doing housework eight hours a day, society has a tendency to want to do a lobotomy on her. – Simone de Beauvoir

Whatever the country, capitalist or socialist, man was everywhere crushed by technology, made a stranger to his own work, imprisoned, forced into stupidity. The evil all arose from the fact that he had increased his needs rather than limited them; . . . As long as fresh needs continued to be created, so new frustrations would come into being. When had the decline begun? The day knowledge was preferred to wisdom and mere usefulness to beauty. . . . Only a moral revolution – not a social or political revolution – only a moral revolution would lead man back to his lost truth. – Simone de Beauvoir

I had never believed in the sacred nature of literature. God had died when I was fourteen. – Simone de Beauvoir

I think that feminism permits women to speak among themselves, instead of simply being resentful, having personal complaints, which get them nowhere and which make them sick and ill-tempered, depressive and poison the lives of their husbands and children. It’s much better to arrive at a collective consciousness of this problem, which is both a kind of therapy and the basis for a struggle. – Simone de Beauvoir

Many things would be changed for Americans if they would only admit that there is ill-luck in this world and that misfortune is not a priori a crime. – Simone de Beauvoir

The American woman’s inequality with men is proved by her defiant attitude. – Simone de Beauvoir

One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion. – Simone de Beauvoir

I cannot be angry at God, in whom I do not believe. – Simone de Beauvoir

I’m not against mothers. I am against the ideology which expects every woman to have children, and I’m against the circumstances under which mothers have to have their children. – Simone de Beauvoir

I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom. – Simone de Beauvoir

There is a kind of universality in the human condition, masculine or feminine. That’s one thing I continue to believe. – Simone de Beauvoir

Only a woman can write what it is to feel as a woman, to be a woman. – Simone de Beauvoir

One is not conceived a lady, one turns into one. – Simone de Beauvoir

There is the problem of unpaid labor, such as housework, which represents millions and millions of unsalaried work hours and on which masculine society is firmly based. To put an end to this would be to send the present-day capitalist system flying in a single blow. Only we can’t do it by ourselves; there have to be other kinds of attacks on the system. So a certain alliance with revolutionary systems is necessary, even masculine ones. – Simone de Beauvoir

She offered her mouth to him, as if enchanted. A Persian princess, a little Indian, a fox, a morning glory, a lovely wisteria–it always pleased them when you told them they looked like something, like something else. – Simone de Beauvoir

It is not in giving life but in risking life that man is raised above the animal; that is why superiority has been accorded in humanity not to the sex that brings forth but to that which kills. – Simone de Beauvoir

Let women be provided with living strength of their own. Let them have the means to attack the world and wrest from it their own subsistence, and their dependence will be abolished — that of man also. – Simone de Beauvoir

No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility. – Simone de Beauvoir