This paper aims to show that Sartre's later work represents a valuable resource for feminist scholarship that remains relatively untapped. It analyses Sartre's discussions of women's attitude towards their situation from the 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s, alongside Beauvoir's account of women's situation in The Second Sex, to trace the development of Sartre's thought on the structure of gendered experience. It argues that Sartre transitions from reducing psychological oppression to self-deception in Being and Nothingness to construing women as ‘survivors’ of it in The Family Idiot. Then, it underlines the potential for Sartre's mature existentialism to contribute to current debates in feminist philosophy by illuminating the role of the imagination in women's psychological oppression.
Mary Edwards is a Lecturer in Philosophy at Cardiff University and Equalities Officer for the UK Sartre Society. She has published papers on the phenomenology of gendered embodiment and shame in Hypatia and Discipline Filosofiche. She is currently working on a monograph entitled Sartre's Existential Psychoanalysis: Knowing Others.