When Simone de Beauvoir’s landmark guide, “The Second Sex” landed on shelves in 1949, intercourse distinctions were demonstrably defined: people born male were men, and people born feminine were ladies.
De Beauvoir’s guide challenged this presumption, writing, “One is certainly not born, but instead becomes, a female.”
Into the introduction to her guide, Beauvoir asked, “what exactly is a female? ‘Tota mulier in utero’, states one, ‘woman is really a womb.’ But in talking about certain ladies, connoisseurs declare although they are equipped with a uterus like the rest … we are exhorted to be women, stay females, become women that they’re perhaps not ladies. It could appear, then, that each and every feminine human being is certainly not a girl …”
To de Beauvoir, being a lady designed taking in the culturally prescribed behaviors of womanhood; just having been born feminine did maybe maybe not really a woman make.
De Beauvoir was, in essence, determining the difference between intercourse and that which we now call “gender.”