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Monday, November 08, 2010

What Women Really Want [from men]

Not all the great existentialist philosophers were men. During much of their lives Jean Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir were lovers in an ongoing “open” relationship. Beauvoir was a prolific writer in her own right producing many novels that revealed her humanitarianism, feminism and willingness to live out the existential philosophy she espoused.

Now do I know what women really want in a relationship with a man? I would not make that claim but when I read the excerpt below from Beauvoir’s autobiographical novel The Mandarins I felt I had been provided at least some insight.

…His arms laden with spotlessly clean washing, he looked at me, questioningly. 'I wanted to change the sheets.'

'It's not necessary.'

He remained in the doorway, embarrassed by his magnificent burden.

'I'm quite happy like this', I said, pulling the warm sheet in which he had slept the night before up to my chin. He moved away; he came back.

'Anne!' He had thrown himself on me, and his voice shook me through and through. For the first time I spoke his name: 'Lewis!' 'Anne! I'm so happy!' He was naked, I was naked, and yet I felt not the slightest embarrassment; his gaze could not hurt me; he did not judge me, he would not put anything before me. From my head to my toes his hands were learning me by heart. Again I said: 'I love your hands.'

'You love them?'

'All evening I've been wondering if I would feel them on my body.' 'You will - all night', he said.

Suddenly he was no longer either awkward or modest. His desire transfigured me. I, who had been for so long without taste, without form, once again had breasts, belly, sex, flesh; I was as nourishing as bread, as fragrant as the earth.

It was so miraculous that I did not think to measure the time or my pleasure; I only know that the faint chirping of dawn could be heard as we fell asleep. (The Mandarins), pp.38-9.


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