"Simone de Beauvoir was born on January 9,1908. She died seventy eight years later, on April 14, 1986. At the time of her death she was honored as a crucial figure in the struggle for women's rights, and as an eminent writer, having won the Prix Goncourt, the prestigious French literary award, for her novel The Mandarins. She was also famous for being the life long companion of Jean Paul Sartre. Active in the French intellectual scene all of her life, and a central player in the philosophical debates of the times both in her role as an author of philosophical essays, novels, plays, memoirs, travel diaries and newspaper articles, and as an editor of Les Temps moderns, Beauvoir was not considered a philosopher in her own right at the time of her death.
Beauvoir would have appreciated the fact that her current philosophical status reflects our changed understanding of the domain of philosophy and the changed situation of women, for one of her crucial contributions to the philosophical lexicon is the idea of situated freedom--that our capacity for agency and meaning- making and whether or not we are identified as agents and meaning- makers is constrained, though never determined, by the conditions of our situation. She would also have appreciated the fact that while her work was instrumental in effecting these changes, their lasting effect is a tribute to the ways in which others have taken up her philosophical and feminist legacies; for one of her crucial contributions to our ethical and political vocabularies is the concept of the appeal--that the success of our projects depends on the extent to which they are adopted by others."
"Beauvoir's challenge to the philosophical status quo was part of an evolving movement. Her challenge to the patriarchal status quo was more dramatic. It was an event. Not at first, however, for at its publication The Second Sex was regarded more as an affront to sexual decency than a political indictment of patriarchy or a phenomenological account of the meaning of "woman." That group of women known as second wave feminists understood what the first readers missed. The Second Sex focused their attention, their sense of injustice and their demands for social, political, and personal transformation. The Second Sex remains a contentious book. No longer considered sexually scandalous, its analyses of patriarchy and its proposed antidotes to women's domination are still debated. What is not contested, however, is the fact that feminism as we know it is grounded in that seminal text." -from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosopy