What is Woman?
Press Start for “What is Woman?“ by 8-Bit Philosophy, where classic video games introduce famous thinkers, problems, and concepts with quotes, teachings, and more.
What is Woman? | (de Beauvoir + Metroid)| 8-Bit Philosophy
Written by: Matt Reichle
Created & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Narrator: Nathan Lowe
Animation Producer: MB X. McClain
Original Music & Sound by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Academic Consultant: Mia Wood
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
What is Woman?
(de Beauvoir + Metroid)
This is Samus. Defender of the Galaxy.
But for those of you that don’t know-
Samus is a woman.
To many who played this game in 1986, this revelation was quite shocking. But why?
French Existentialist philosopher, Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir, or simply… Simone de Beauvoir sought to answer the question: What does it mean to be a woman? In her book, The Second Sex, she famously asserted that: woman is Other.
Woman is not Man. And Man has historically defined what it means to be HUMAN. As such, woman lives with the reality of gender oppression. Unable to easily navigate the world free from oppression, women have to assert their freedom and climb the social ladder.
While men simply take the elevator to the top floor.
Like Sartre, de Beauvoir believed that people are nothing but their actions—that we are defined by the choices that we make. But in the case of woman, their identity as the Other is impressed upon them by a male dominated world.
You see, a woman’s facticity—or the social and biological facts of her life that she has no control over—limits her freedom. But does not mean she isn’t free! In fact, she flees her freedom when, for example, she thoughtlessly buys into the feminine stereotypes dictated by a male-dominated society. This acceptance is a type of inauthenticity.
For de Beauvoir the masculine majority creates woman as Other. In other words, man defines himself by that which is NOT feminine, or what De Beauvoir calls a dialectical process of self construction.
This isn’t always a peaceful process.
Man is a savior and the feminine is a damsel in distress. Man is a subject whereas woman is the object of possession.
If woman is seen at all, it’s usually as purely a biological or sexual object.
Simone De Beauvoir’s answer to the question: “what is woman”, is that “no answer is adequate because a fundamental ambiguity marks the feminine being” (-Simone de Beuvoir. The Second Sex. 1956. Translated by H.M. Parshley. Printed by Lowe and Brydone. Great Britain. Page 264)
If our human condition is ambiguity, it means that we exist and create our meaning through the choices we make. Therefore Simone asserts, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.
The process of being subjugated by patriarchal forces and being TOLD who and what they are is part of the process of becoming a woman. (-Simone de Beuvoir. The Second Sex. 1956. Translated by H.M. Parshley. Printed by Lowe and Brydone. Great Britain. Page 273)
To live authentically people must live their own lives and accept their radical freedom. Or not. If Samus chooses to fight space pirates as part of her project to free the galaxy from the intergalactic yoke of evil space pirates…
Is she merely interiorizing a patriarchal standard by replicating a masculine myth of virility? Is she acting authentically?
What about if she wears a bikini?