The Second Sex (excerpt)
By Simone de Beauvoir
Men have vied with one another in proclaiming that love is a woman’s supreme accomplishment. “A woman who loves as a woman becomes only the more feminine,” says Nietzsche, and Balzac: “Among the first-rate, man’s life is fame, woman’s life is love. Woman is man’s equal only when she makes her life a perpetual offering, as that of man is perpetual action.” But therein, again, is a cruel deception, since what she offers, men are in no wise anxious to accept. Man has no need of unconditional devotion he claims, nor of the idolatrous love that flatters his vanity; he accepts them only on condition that he need not satisfy the reciprocal demands these attitudes imply. He preaches to woman that she should give---and her gifts bore him to distraction; she is left in embarrassment with her useless offerings, her empty life. 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.