Jennifer McWeeny

Jennifer McWeeny

French House Virtual Lecture Series: Jennifer McWeeny

Why Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” Is Not about Gender: Phenomenology, Sexual Difference, and the (Mis)translation of Se faire femme
Apr 14, 2021, 2:30 PM
Free and open to the public

Join Wellesley’s French House in welcoming Jennifer McWeeny for her lecture Why Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” Is Not about Gender: Phenomenology, Sexual Difference, and the (Mis)translation of Se faire femme.

Popular readers and scholarly commentators alike interpret Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex in terms of the concepts of ‘gender’ and ‘social construction.’ In this lecture, McWeeny challenges those readings that would see womanhood as a matter of receiving or performing cultural meanings, and instead argues that, for Beauvoir, womanhood is a matter of mind. Beauvoir’s conception of womanhood locates sexual difference in the plastic structures of consciousness in the ways that a person actively relates to her/his/their own body in the flow of self-experience. McWeeny’s phenomenological interpretation of Beauvoir’s magnum opus opens new lines of engagement between Beauvoir’s oeuvre and critical social theories, including critical race theory, transgender studies, disability studies, and decolonial studies.

Please register in advance.

Jennifer McWeeny is associate professor of philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a recipient of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar National Research Award (France, 2019-2020). Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of philosophy of mind, French philosophy, phenomenology, existentialism, feminism, and decolonial theory. McWeeny has published more than 25 articles and book chapters that have appeared in Hypatia, Continental Philosophy Review, and Chiasmi International, among other venues. She has also edited two books on cross-cultural philosophy: Speaking Face to Face: The Visionary Philosophy of María Lugones (2019), co-edited with Pedro DiPietro and Shireen Roshanravan; and Asian and Feminist Philosophies in Dialogue: Liberating Traditions (2014), co-edited with Ashby Butnor. She recently published a popular piece in EuropeNow, A New Existentialism for Infectious Times, about the contemporary relevance of existentialist philosophy. McWeeny is Editor in Chief of Simone de Beauvoir Studies.

For more information, please contact:

Abi Sandy (, Marie-Cecile Ganne-Schiermeier (