Simone de Beauvoir is probably the most important figure in modern feminism, for it was her writing that shaped the thinking of some of the most influential feminists of our time. Beauvoir was a French writer, who changed the world with her seminal work, The Second Sex (or Le Deuxieme Sexe, in French). In the Second Sex, she talks about the meaning of being a ‘woman’, and how identity and roles of women are shaped by society. She was also the first person to draw attention to the way women are described and written about in movies, literature, and even history.
Beauvoir’s literature acts as a wonderful introduction to modern feminist thought, and it will provide you with a number of eye-opening revelations as well. The Second Sex, undoubtedly, is her most important work, and is a must read. I’m also quite fond of her autobiographical novels- Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter and The Prime of Life, which provide an up-close and personal view of her life as a girl, and a woman.
Old Age is another one of Beauvoir’s works that challenged existing societal constructs. In her book, Beauvoir explores sexuality of the elderly, and questions how society has managed to shame the old for just being themselves. It’s a moving and powerful work- one that has become more relevant than ever.
Those who are not that into Beauvoir’s non-fiction works can take a look at her fictional pieces-especially She Came to Stay, and the Mandarins- for they are open about their feminist leanings, and are heavily drawn from her personal life experiences.