Reading progress update: I've read 471 out of 741 pages.

The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir, H.M. Parshley, Deirdre Bair

Ok. I'm half-way through the chapter called The Married Woman, which seems to go on forever. Or it may just seem that way to me because I have issues with this chapter...lots of issues...but I get de Beauvoir's point and to me that is the important part about the book.


HOWEVER, of this chapter are also highly entertaining:

"All doctrines of transcendence and freedom subordinate the defeat of evil to progress towards good. But the wife is not called to build a better world; the house, the bedroom, the dirty laundry, the wooden floors, are fixed things: she can do no more than rout out indefinitely the foul causes that creep in; she attacks the dust, stains, mud and filth; she fights sin, she fights with Satan. But it is a sad destiny to have to repel an enemy without respite instead of being turned towards positive aims; the housewife often submits to it in rage. Bachelard uses the word ‘malice’ for it; psychoanalysts have written about it. For them, housekeeping mania is a form of sadomasochism; it is characteristic of mania and vice to make freedom want what it does not want; because the maniacal housewife detests having negativity, dirt and evil as her lot, she furiously pursues dust, accepting a condition that revolts her. She attacks life itself through the rubbish left from any living growth. Whenever a living being enters her sphere, her eye shines with a wicked fire. ‘Wipe your feet; don’t mess up everything; don’t touch that.’ She would like to stop everyone from breathing: the least breath is a threat. Every movement threatens her with more thankless work: a child’s somersault is a tear to sew up. Seeing life as a promise of decomposition demanding more endless work, she loses her joie de vivre; her eyes sharpen, her face looks preoccupied and serious, always on guard; she protects herself through prudence and avarice. She closes the windows because sun would bring in insects, germs and dust; besides, the sun eats away at the silk wall coverings; the antique armchairs are hidden under loose covers and embalmed in mothballs: light would fade them. She does not even care to let her visitors see these treasures: admiration sullies. This defiance turns to bitterness and causes hostility to everything that lives. In the provinces, some bourgeois women have been known to put on white gloves to make sure no invisible dust remains on the furniture: these were the kind of women the Papin sisters murdered several years ago; their hatred of dirt was inseparable from their hatred of their servants, of the world and of each other."

If ever there was an irrefutable argument against housework, it is that it apparently can drive people to both murder and madness.