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I. Will. Take the slate to take one. Over. Her life. Simone de Beauvoir has defied convention. At 17 when other middle class Korean girls were strictly controlled at home. She went to the predominantly male Sorbonne to study philosophy. In 1929. At the age of 21 she flouted the prevailing morality by living unwed and openly was John Paulson a noted existentialist philosopher. Who has perhaps been the greatest single influence on her life. With him she took a leading part in
leftist political causes in France. In 1969 when the notion was highly controversial. She advocated women's right to abortion on demand. She has been an idol of the feminist movement ever since her book The Second Sex was published 25 years ago. At the time the book was considered to be violently radical and it sold 22000 copies the first week. De Beauvoir has had a long career as a controversial playwright novelist and essayist. Today in her late 60s she's world renowned. Recently because she wanted to share her views with American women. She granted permission for w anybody to film an interview in her Paris apartment. Provided the TV crew was all female. The interviewer is an American friend Dorothy Tenna professor of psychology at the University of Bridgeport. Simone de Beauvoir. But the topic is then. Led to your
becoming a feminist. Activist. I mean say was in a way where they hope the single sex because I began to be that interested in the condition that this time that he's a student. But then there was no time for this edition of a limited action which really interested me and I began to be a much more active this last year when they met when I can one to doing this and find the money because other then I said by way of fighting and their wedding day I said and then do. And then I began to think back to that fight. What particular issues interested you. Oh on the level of the feeling condition or in roles of the show and the work it does to me but I began with the question of abortion because they are friends. So we are
very very late. So they I had this question and they actually is a terrible problem. Father a woman and a wonderful mother when they all to me a pedophile the woman begins in the world and they that it was very cold. And when a sudden one woman came and asked me to sign a manifest saying I had been a that in time and that were where they got for they believe that. While I accepted and we began a long walk about. The long walk for abortion occurred on the 22nd of November 1971 and marked a turning point for vote de Beauvoir and the women's movement in France. For her it signaled a re-entry into active participation in the movement. It looks like being a huge success. It's mobilized many women over a problem of the utmost importance to them of abortion.
When I think about the present situation regarding abortion in France which forces the vast majority of women to risk their futures by having secret abortions with bits of parsley or centrist off at the peril of their lives in the most ghastly conditions it deserves a strong protest. And I'm delighted with our protest today. Because she brought her prestige to the movement the long walk attracted attention around the world. And helped lead to the recent change in French law that permits abortion in the first 10 weeks. Three members of the French feminist movement who are especially close to Simone de Beauvoir Michel Viele including. And Becky Barr discussed the events of those days when he had no idea really become something really for the French women. And now all of the the world and all over the world and the great thing also is that from my experience I can say is that. With the French women the word abortion was a really terrible word.
So I think it's really. Everybody started talking about it. It's wonderful. I did you know the women really say give me some kind of new solidarity that they had never felt before. Did this produce a change in the abortion laws the tangibles as well it was even a pirate movement which began to be in Paris. But you know that her thousands of dollars in gold and the woman. Taken out on the walk of her making abortions a woman and even subduct husband too. And it was important to follow the fact that the woman did they say they did it and the police did not. They are doing. And do you work within any organization. No I don't walk you know I walk Weezer's some
women do have some money. Well on the one thing one of all it was saw the abduction I know the scene was a great piece. We made a very good re-imagined preaching by helping somebody Fullaway's for auctions for instance a value list in my place to deduct often the patients who that well little lives at that. And then. In vague terms with some woman of the movement but themselves they are different they are different. I shall not say sex but it seems in the States they have the form groups which do not always agree with each other. So I have my very and I go in very friendly terms with some of these groups but not with all of them I don't
know. And I get to ask some of them which you don't like me so much they go I think they respect her even if they don't agree with. They have to respect her because she's very valuable. Out women who are not to say that. Maybe some of them you are nothing you are kind of. Feel a little afraid of what she did because. It's still very hard for women to lead the way she. Elizabeth Gould David has written a book that she called the first sex and she's a great admirer of yours. But she wonders whether you really think that women are you really thought that women were the second sex. That's her way of speaking. It was they played with the words because very often that I don't know who says that in the sex who you
speak of the third the sex didn't do what I said. So I was using to call a woman so them sex because in fact if you go in that class they are. Kept down by the men. They are certainly not the fault of the society. So it was a plane with the weapon to say something which is true. You know I use it today I find it that way. Not that we're that way before I came here I thought two women senators in the United States Barbara Love for example said that she said when you read the second sex that you saw lesbian and as a kind of pathology. And she wonders whether she's written on this subject. Your views about female homosexuality have have changed me. Actually live those that lesbian where her but on the. I told the very clearly that what he did was a choice I will man
as good as it is and that she could put them into this and she does all women and never voted with such feminist as Kate know it and many on the right side and others have talked about psychotherapy as a tool of oppression against women. They get a little bit of freedom to say Delphos the words are used to have sex with women that they had to be muzzled and to stay home and play. They have a few men in all and I am quite over the idea that the reason is because the left has been well woman used by men in many many cases. I didn't see your cases but in many cases it has been used to oppress women and the to make women as a whole much lower than those in MA. And that is it in that sense to explain it that the woman has a shift which is very very easy for the man to believe. So they believe they can be on the side without
democracy. It's you said that you were in that position which I don't think at all. So you agree with. You get that and you and all are about to do the bad news because they feel they've got any woman since she stopped work three years ago on her latest book of. De Beauvoir has become more active in her support of the women's liberation movement. She's president of shrine's here a pro-abortion group in Paris. She's president of the League of Rights of Women which deals with discrimination against women. She writes about issues concerning women from the top down. A left wing paper in Paris often using her writing to encourage other women to write about themselves. Do you feel that the impassioned and jealous and actuation that you've described in your novels and your memoir an inevitable part of being a woman. No I think I will win not to lose. Well that's a bit related to that whether or not all
of these though do see the full details. Do you think women can be independent emotionally who can be independent emotionally as men do have their emotions. And it's not about sindoor emotions and their feelings and to care for the people for instance for her politics within the world. Indeed but I do think that what we mean by independent emotion any women have such strong traditions of mutual distrust and suspicion and are not getting along with each other very well. And we talk about sisterhood in the United States which I understand we in France of translation has not been allowed to vote. So I think that there is no other two cities which is a very good one. But that is just the world I'm on a lot of women I know they are very
high and they help each other and there is a rock and sisterhood that not all of them not all of them is that he's dealt with all of this and I think women fear most about feminism. I don't know if he or they are jealous of the women who are not addressed to the guy in the 7th and the slaves they are there. The sense I get that is that they you feel hurt to feel and they say well look out we do for men who walk outside and don't do as they went and walked free. And maybe they are pride of the freedom which you made possible for them because it's something that they choose but they the way to feel for them because you didn't know exactly what to do with it. So I guess that's what some more than you think it's
basic then it's not just a matter of misunderstanding what feminism means. No. I guess even if you do not misunderstand then if they say more badly then that certainly most of them do the work to be able to fight and the pray that men will not be the same with them and will not protect them and help them. What they doing to do in fact that they will then hope they you do what you think men fear most about feminism. They feel the love they feel to have your hands in their work outside the home they feel lucky to have a seventh at home to make all the things which are useful for them and they feel the laws are there. If didn't the first day because it's always very presumptive to feel superior to somebody. So I guess many of them feel I feel all the seasons together. Most of them I
guess he to have a seventh at home. That's the most important thing for them I guess. I'd say we accepted the woman outside to walk outside. If she does exactly the same kind of walk for them and the fun that's in her book how that very recently can become a very active feminist. And since there is a movement of a feminist movement has had a men's reaction to intensified become stronger. This I guess there is more violence today. I'm on the main deck and they have all in my time because they Unicenter. Indeed. Leila Fuhrmann three bags and says and for the man to have he loves that means so you can sleep with me you ought to sleep with me and I know that many of my hands are hot. I know you don't do that No.6 sit in this place that I was on my
sister all my friends and we were all you ever met that I met much I hugged him and full of women and danger to them. The women will not go with them. That in past lives. That was always something existing inside did. And in Italy chiefly. But now it's what it was something less and it is something for me kind of unplumbed. A friend of mine has wondered about prostitution. She thinks that it could be a respectable profession among women. If men didn't control it and if the pay were right what you think about that how you treated them. I don't know may be good in any way it would be the way you say it two would be paid enough and it would not be controlled by men. Then if a woman. Wanted to do that after all they are free to do it. I don't know I don't feel that that's a very good way of living for a woman anyway. She's to heaven in this good condition she's too
dependent on no desire of men. No I am not much for what do you think the greatest obstacles are to feminism. Well it is what we said. If you would refer to the fear men and women have ended the war and seen a mixture would be difficult. Do you think that that technological changes have made feminism possible now where it may not have been possible before washing machines. Birth control. I am not sure that it is. Hey buzzy. She's awfully nice because you could have the best control in the washing machine and there being a part of the woman and then you can never know washing machine and no control and dominate has to be your own master. Wilma Scott Heidi who is the president of the National Association for
Women Now wondered whether you feel that it is very important to bring out feminine qualities in men that our culture has not permitted to exist. And also what we might call masculine qualities in women. I don't believe that that has much to do with Chalte must've been doing it. Yes. Find some women that are less so than Jenny. How did you know how to weigh less see less violent unless you talk down to do and love her. Get out for a day or day and do one thing and often those that do that to the men who are chiefly competitive in their lives. So it would be possible to make the men less accuracy less competitive less true of themselves. That would be definitely something good if you could help a woman to be more
to have them fetch more time to give them self and not other people are not positive to men but having them self in their own head. That's who I go to and these are things that men might want themselves to. There could be feminists. Couldn't there. Do you think that will ever be any feminist man made it. No I don't think I'm any better I should say no some of them what if I mean he's Chiefland. I vacuumed any nation man up for 2025. We need to because they feel the question their age. They can do all the people other people to get as much discrimination from sex. You have always been a woman greatly respected in intellectual circles. Do you feel that you have been within those circles discriminated against as a woman.
No I never felt I was committed to the way I was astonished when I wrote the single sex to see that some of my male friends were very hungry at me find some. I believed that you was a feminist. You can see there that women and men could be equal. And then I discovered the human to some other that they had the feeling of stupidity. There was a very young woman saying the things I said in the text but before I never so in my circle in a lack of discrimination since I wasn't really really other than the other you think that your writings and your work would be different if you were not a woman and I mean that in the sense of when women step into the domain of thinking that that men assume by their own that they have more trouble.
There are very few women philosophers for example I can think of myself as not being a woman because I cannot think of myself saw myself as being a woman. And indeed my books express this suited my institution of being a woman. I didn't think they could have been written even by man. Now to be a fetus I felt that I spoke of that in my memoir and the insist on sex seems to me that it is very seldom that if any man either had a great impact on Philadelphia. So it seems to me that you had to be a philosopher and what seems to me in detail in that context shown there is to be one but that was never the scene I wanted. I wished to be when I was young. I always we should do to be a writer and chiefly to write novels but not to be like Gandhi
something that you have repudiated religion through your life. Have you found and felt a need for a substitute. No. I mean the human activity disaster seems to me quite sufficient to do us about what he said that the idea of death held terror for her from the first moment she realized that she someday must die. Later as she observed the aging process in herself and her friends she decided to face the problem head on. She wrote coming of age a large work about old age and because of its success. The publisher now and she was a regular periodical devoted to practical advice for older people. In your book The Coming of age you talked about what some people have said it was a taboo subject to old age. Yes. And you talked about the physical deterioration but also about the indifference and the injustice of society. Yes. Would you like to
give us some feelings that you have of specific recommendations that you feel would help. My idea is that you can do nothing for elderly people if you haven't begun to do something for the people. What do you do with old age. How much must the older people walk. Chiefly that they have been the event. Oh well now they are. They have to walk too much and that too bad the conditions and the winds are 60 or 65 and they are going to treat their young very very old much older people who have not to walk or all their life and do not know where they are holding the body that they have not to be. They offer nothing to present themselves. They have no control. Usually most of them. And so they
don't know what to do. We observe. The laughter yes or for their life when they have any time to do something but they don't feel like doing anything. Most of them it's not so bad. Maybe they can take that in the town but then the town and those chiefly for the working class. It certainly will rub them out. They do. Chief if other. Because the woman can always do things at home and defend themselves to school why a man that is taken away from his wife then he has nothing to do and he feels himself for not I'm the man who went over his table. How do you feel that medical profession function to increase or decrease the problems of old age while you wait. And here's a problem because it helps a lot of people to come to a relatively old age they know
yes you know the first life as it was in bad times. I mean you know so should they know how you reach the end. Then they have how much more older people than they were before. But I didn't know that it made clearly much for the low class people. Their health was chiefly which people do. To get to keep the body and say no conditions but not. Not the food because it's a very a very costly to take care of one's head. And the old people can not hire ladies. We had a lot of difficulty in our society in the United States and here too on the issue of death. And this is one that you have raised in your writings in the coming of age and some magnificently in a very easy guess the
story of this dying. What feeling do you have about that. You separate it from your feelings about old age. Yes there is something different potentially it can happen to good people. And then it's because you are evil and you you people are taken away don't even have their whole lives but they're socially conscious so I see that as a death. I see my mother had nothing in fact but she was with her children and she was in good condition. She did not feel awful for that. She did not know she died. The fact that put people in hospital was a very very badly treated because not enough nurses not so bad that they are too. They have too much work to do and the doctors do and so they have very little land as they know they are going to die and they have a tiny bit of dish. And
I feel she's the captain. And he was. He says if I could have a wish I do wish to die without anguish without I don't know I don't know. Maybe. But not with this study but I'm getting that too many people have and they feel they are going to die and they feel so lonely as many people feel that that they would prefer to know what a horrible thing that happened which I think he is depicted so well in the book is the isolation that comes because of everyone's fears. Yes. Yes. Because he does have hard line between people who are even between people who's really into each other. If one lies to the other because he knows he's going to die for instance and you know that's a diagnosis it puts you out of contact with everybody. Yes. Have you began to feel your own influence on other women. Why a lot of them tell me how you think you're cool and
please me very much when like I have something. Yes I think I had implants so much was that they wanted somebody to have this influence and then I don't think they could change the life of a person except if she is with in any way for this book. Which of your works are your favorite now. Because they even have what it is to me that the two go and sex with but for women. So I like it. But the best that I can maybe more for my box office would be. And then. We do meanwhile. Because after all the text could have been written by another woman and in fact a lot of women now height the question and there any other way I or myself but my memoirs that I don't like them in the way I do.
Have you however read any of the recent feminist writers. And gotten any new obtained any new concepts from them at all. Yes. I had a daughter who we could read it and say we face and all that. I mean I can books chiefly that there's a very good value here. Michelle Whitman if and when you had that many books and the summer. Because I didn't buy French woman to find out what they say and I discovered that all of the current situation of women walking inside the house what they called the heat didn't walk and I did not know. Oh yeah. All of this was very easy in hindsight and in the States too. And the importance of getting tough I think of
women doing this work for nothing not being paid for all that. And I discovered that the older laws have been with abortion and all that was in connection with the exploitation of women at home. And I that it is obscene. And now the women begin to think conscience of that. Were there any women that were important figures in your life in your earlier life intellectually. Well I had my find that I spoke for my first book of Sunia but then she died very young and yet the book come out. Yeah. You can go girls girl for whom I felt a much affection and I had my sister but I cannot say that two of them. The intellectual importance in my life. In fact just one
person it happens to be a man but I just kind of some use. Intellectually we suffer because we spoke to each other. Morning night and day. And we made the Heidi to on a lot of fun. Although there have been other men in her life Nona's meant the same thing to her as existentialist philosopher John start with whom she has completely shared her life and work. Today. I'm nearly blind but she reads to him daily and takes him to his favorite cafe. She watches over his health and privacy much like a loving wife. Especially his privacy. They wouldn't have allowed this film sequence if they had known the camera was there. How do you think the young people thought his work would have been different had he not been influenced by you. We have not being influenced by each other about
inspiration. Decay should dictate the path of a walk. But we have helped each other by you. We should criticize each other very much. I mean when they I had eaten they gave me good advice and when you hold something in your head what you had to eat them and it gave him advice. But the first idea from the cat the walk was always that each of us would do it. After all it was love that we could help each other. And then it might have been changed because of what you would say to each other but yet I often held these advice and did change with. They didn't tendency he had my advice and attendant hit them. It was quite a party guy. Would you be willing to tell us how you feel about monogamy. That's up to each son. If somebody feels to be one of
them let him let her be. I don't feel nothing because of the difficulties that one should have and she puts only one son even that he's her life. What can happen then some people may have just one mother one woman in their life. But if somebody went to a different class and ships I guess he she must have them who thought marriage for women was dangerous. Oh yes I always. What could change it so that it would not be dangerous for women or beer. Yeah that would be the best thing. People manage very well for getting the children and having these two. But do we know about it and without what you call the nuclear family with the other woman and
the children too and that is in the past and said right away that is what I loved very much in her book. She in the fire. Yes she talked to about the liberation of children. What does that mean to you. Do you think that that's connected with feminism. Yes certainly because I think the children sleep when I didn't do the woman the mother and the little girls for the future life not me mother of that mother. I mean they get at the very end of time for them to get the true love. I believe they have a role in the world society and not to be just involved in the family. Hell they haven't until it's quite poor that I have that in China. Very very subtle. How useful do we need them walking. Many have to that that they need the money and there's you have the conscience of being the child of the problems but it is a member of the BE God. And I guess that I'd bought them.
In other words they were able to contribute to the society at an early age whereas in that he's just a descendant of dumbfounds. They are not the numbers of women the plight of kids but the children too. And if it can be changed that would be a very good thing and certainly for older women. How do you feel about the problem of overpopulation. Do you think that that has something to do with the rise of feminism now in a way yes because I guess we're going to feel now. It is such a duty to have children though they still do that. So from the youngest Yes the girl he said she has to be a mother. She will not be a woman but when you grow up some of them may be men. Many of them begin to feel that the population is not of that there is too much population so that to do
does not need to know them on the box. So it can help the mentality of the women. Do you think that if we had a change society that men would enjoy being parents more. It's possible though that you very difficult to speak of the future. I always feel silly nonsense when I pick up for him. But what it seems to me again do you imagine they are meant for you men take care of the child had much more than before and now you can see that and you see a lot of own father with children under childbirth and those that certainly the specter of their feminism that stood up to the children in some good deed. Nothing maybe but the peaceful stance that can happen. What are some of the more significant events that are occurring in technology in science and social conditions. Are there
some that worry you in terms of what may come in the future out of them. I don't know if all the food here. I know for the present a lot of things which mean what happens in what happens in Greece what happens the whole of the world that seems to me subuniverse High Noon what seems important to me. Maybe the most important thing is that the pug has the effect of people who are not seen before. To be complete but it's a long way and it's very difficult. I mean the on Stan's Ozzie out scum pies which should begin just now in Africa to be their own masters. But it is very difficult to in the condition when they need to make progress and to have all the people that even happy. That seems to me important and very difficult. And what is frightening it is the
word of the school which should go against the desalinisation enough the people are all so fussy cars you fancy. The world has ceased to kind to crush all freedom all over the world. What is your life like now. With the change of things may lack the will to go. And there's a concept of that in English right. Or trade in. Yes and you still have the last two years of my life and you is not very different from the other. Do you have plans for future work now. Well you have some plans but that's not something you can explain because you do not yet put in a lot so I can speak about it. What are the things that that give you the greatest pleasure. Well when it doesn't go the way I like to write. But
sometimes it does. And sometimes I don't know exactly what to write. That is one thing I like. Then seen may find speaking to examine the sums involved in Boston than I should have. I always love Mr Powell and then he didn't. I still love that books and there are a lot of all's well that ends with this although one to follow. One. Who
Simone de Beauvoir: A Conversations with Dorothy Tennov
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Episode Description
Interview of Simone de Beauvoir by Dorothy Tennov with additional documentary footage and photos and narration about De Beauvoir's life. De Beauvoir discusses "The Second Sex", abortion rights and "Le Manfesto Je me surs fait avorter" of 1971, Women's and children's liberation, philosophy, old age, death, housework, monogamy, lesbianism, over-population, psychiatry and women, prostitution, male parenting,etc. Also includes short interview with 3 women from Long Walk for Abortion March 1971: Michelle Viav, Claudine Ser, and Becky Berra. This Interviewer was not identified. Simone De Beauvoir, Film Print Received 2
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Woman is a talk show featuring in-depth conversations exploring issues affecting the lives of women.
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Co-Producer: Elkin, Sandra
Co-Producer: Balfour Fraser, Anne
Director: Humphreys, Dodo
Guest: Beauvoir, Simone de, 1908-1986
Interviewee: Viav, Michelle
Interviewee: Ser, Claudine
Interviewee: Berra, Becky
Interviewer: Tennov, Dorothy
Narrator: Brown, Hilary
Producing Organization: WNED
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: WNED 09444 (WNED-TV)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:42:00
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Chicago: “Woman; Simone de Beauvoir: A Conversations with Dorothy Tennov,” 1976-09-01, WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “Woman; Simone de Beauvoir: A Conversations with Dorothy Tennov.” 1976-09-01. WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Woman; Simone de Beauvoir: A Conversations with Dorothy Tennov. Boston, MA: WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from