Gender studies program invites speaker to talk about works of French philosopher
The debate over the meanings of gender and sex is an important discussion in modern times, and it all started with the works of French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir.
Beauvoir’s works and ideas will be featured in the event “One Is Not Born a Woman: The Legacy of Simone de Beauvoir.” The presentation will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Administration Building auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
The event’s speaker is Yolanda A. Patterson, president of the International Simone de Beauvoir Society and professor emeritus from California State University East Bay. Patterson also edits the journal, The Beauvoir Studies, which is published by the International Simone de Beauvoir Society.
The University of Idaho women and gender studies program will host the event. Sandra Reineke, director of the program, said it’s sponsored by a number of different university units and departments and is funded with a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council.
The presentation will consist of a lecture by Patterson lasting about 40 minutes, followed by a Q-and-A session.
The presentation will be about, as the title identifies, Simone de Beauvoir. Beauvoir, now deceased, was a French philosopher in the early 20th century who was active in the women’s liberation movement in France.
“She is a very famous French philosopher, probably … the most read female philosopher today,” Reineke said. “She’s often times called the mother of modern feminism and is one of the founding works of feminist theory.”
Beauvoir became engaged in the women’s liberation movement in France and wrote a number of pieces about feminism, her most famous work being “The Second Sex,” Reineke said.
“In it, she explains how the category gender is socially constructed, rather than biologically given, which today sounds like old hat, but when she first wrote about it people did not want to believe her,” she said.
Reineke said it’s an accomplishment for the university to secure Patterson to speak because of her experience and position as an authority on the works of Simone de Beauvoir.
“Whenever there is anything Beauvoir in the world, Dr. Patterson is the person who is invited to speak,” Reineke said. “So for instance, when France celebrated the 200th anniversary of Simone de Beauvoir’s birth, she was invited as part of the big celebration that the French government had put together, so she’s a real big name when it comes to talking about the legacy of Simone de Beauvoir.”
Reineke said she thinks the presentation is important and everyone should come because Beauvoir’s ideas have changed the thoughts and interpretations that affect people today.
“All the students should come, because they’re still affected by the amazing things that Beauvoir changed through her ideas and her work,” Reineke said.
She said she thinks the presentation is a great opportunity and everyone should take advantage of it.
“I’d say it’s just a very unique opportunity for people to hear about the … ideas and works of such an icon of the feminist movement, the French feminist movement and an important philosopher,” Reineke said.
Corey Bowes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org