Schwarzer:1 When you wrote The Second Sex in 1949 you believed that socialism was the only true remedy for the inequality of the sexes. Then, last November, 22 years later, you became actively involved in the feminist movement by taking part in the international woman's march in Paris. Why?
Beauvoir: Because I realized that in the past 20 years, the position of women in France had not really changed and that socialism, as it has evolved -- for example, in Russia -- hasn't changed women's position, either. Frenchwomen had won a few minor legal victories in terms of marriage and divorce; contraceptive devices had been distributed, but very inadequately, since only 7 percent of Frenchwomen use the Pill. There may be a few more women working than before, but not many, and they are secretaries rather than heads of businesses, and nurses more often than doctors. They are almost completely barred from the most interesting careers, and their advancement is blocked even in those professions they can enter. All these factors made me reconsider. Also, before the Women's Liberation Movement formed in 1970, the women's groups in France were reformist and legalistic. I had no desire to join them. The new feminism, however, is radical. It reiterates the 1968 slogan -- change life today; don't gamble on the future; act now.
When the women of the MLF got in touch with me, they asked me to help formulate an abortion manifesto, making public the fact that I and others had had abortions. I thought that this was a valid way of drawing attention to the problem. So it was quite natural that I should decide to march with the militants of the MLF last November, and to support their slogans: free abortion on demand, free contraception, voluntary motherhood.
From an interview by Alice Schwarzer in Ms, July 1972.