label define sexlbl 2 `”female”‘

That’s how you say ‘second sex’ in Stata-ese. Stata, of course, a statistical analysis software with an avant guard use of the English language. Almost too nerdy to joke about.

I finished the massively delightful tome that is The Second Sex this past week and, coincidentally, worked with Current Population Survey data at my day job. For the non-statisticians in the room, that means that I got to relabel observations with sex coded as 1 ‘male’ and sex coded as 2 ‘female’. Also, white people are coded as 1 in the race variable, black people 2, and other races are too new in the statistician consciousness to get reliable numbers. And this is true for all of the major economic datasets you use. It’s funny how natural it seems, until you think about it (or maybe only until you think about it after just reading The Second Sex).

All in all, I think The Second Sex should be required reading in, say, middle school or high school, before you do much living and making too many mistakes. Not that I feel like I’ve made oodles of mistakes, but you can’t go wrong having a feminist framework in you mind to understand the world and relationships. I suppose there’s something to be said for the ‘live a little and then theorize about it’ school of thought. No doubt I wouldn’t have understood much of what Beauvoir was writing about if I read it in high school, especially the bits about love, as that came much later in my own case. But I certainly would have understood myself better. So, if I’m ever in charge of young minds (god forbid), I’m going to set them on The Second Sex.

I can’t not let Beauvoir have the last word on fashion (last word for this post, mind): “[T]he woman who suffers from not doing anything thinks she is expressing her being through her dress. Beauty treatments and dressing are kinds of work that allow her to appropriate her person as she appropriates her home though housework; she thus believes that she is choosing and re-creating her own self. And social customs encourage her to alienate herself in her image.”


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