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Gender Trouble Feminism and the Subversion of Identity

Judith Butler ☆ 7 REVIEW

Rm and expression of repression not a neutral or abstract exchangeButler however disagrees with Wittig s idea that heterosexuality is the only power that shapes and restricts homosexuality For Butler there are other powerdiscourse centers that construct and structure both ay and straight sexuality Butler does not entirely reject Wittig s stand but posits that Wittig s formulation of power structures in only one of the many structures of oppression Wittig s theory says Butler overrides those discourses within the Law and Society: A Sociological Approach gay and lesbian culture that employ sex as a category to proliferate the number of sexes with terms such as dyke butch fag femme and ueer through which these discourses situate themselves within heterosexual discourseShe cites the example of a lesbian femme who liked her boys to beirls with the Just an Illusion - Side A girl resignifying masculinity in a butch identity Such categories both recall and displace conventional normative heterosexuality a point that Wittig missesDrawing on Mary Douglas Purity and Danger Butler posits that any discourse that establishes the boundaries of the body serves the purpose of instating and naturalizing certain taboos regarding the appropriate limits postures and modes of exchange that define what it is that constitutes bodies Butler cites the example of AIDS being defamed as aay disease to perpetuate its heterosexual hegemony Later Butler derives that If the inner truth of Cybersecurity: Protecting Critical Infrastructures from Cyber Attack and Cyber Warfare (Zones of Religion) gender is a fabrication and if a trueender is a fantasy instituted and inscribed on the surface of bodies then it seems that enders can neither be true or false but are only produced as the truth effects of a discourse of a primary and stable identity Further Butler suggests that the figure of the drag fully subverts the distinction between inner and outer psychic space and effectively mocks both the expressive model of ender and the notion of a true Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement gender identity With the dragender becomes performative rather than essence as much as normative ender is through repetition Butler in her concluding chapter suggests the act of parody as a practice that can serve to reengage and reconsolidate the very distinction between a privileged and naturalized ender configuration and one that appears as derived phantasmatic and mimetic a failed copy By employing these failed attempts at performing the socially approved ender Butler believes it is possible to critiue hegemonic accounts of ender formation I mark this book read somewhat disingenuously since it was so far over my head much of the time I was merely skimming it inattentively However there were moments when even I experienced a feeling of awesome revelationThe mark of The Craving gender appears to ualify bodies as human bodies the moment at which an infant becomes humanised is when the uestion is it a boy or airl is answeredStrategies of exclusion and hierarchy are shown to persist in the formulation of the sexgender distinction and its recourse to sex as the prediscursive Butler has numerous loud detractors and faces a variety of underhanded compliments even on this very website along the lines of comments such as oh she s smart but only when she s not talking about The Murder Exchange gender OR Butler would bereat if she wasn t such an impenetrable writer Well I ll say it outright I love Butler I love Gender Trouble I love Bodies that Matter I love Giving an Account of Oneself I love basically everything I ve read by her and I m always excited to have the opportunity of reading I think she s a brilliant thinker a strangely poetic writer and a sorely underappreciated figure in contemporary philosophy I suppose she inadvertently falls into a sad trap conventional philosophers fume at her for taking up the non philosophical subjects of ender and sexuality in a serious fashion feminists hate her because of her supposed theoretical elitism Undergraduates hate her because they find her impossible Or at any rate this has been my experience of seeing Butler interjected into the classroom Gender Trouble is what I d like to call a enealogy of the denaturalization of The Million Dollar Goal gender in 20th century thought Why does it take nearly 200 pages for Butler to arrive at her conclusion where it seems her claims are finally staked Because the past hundred years of theoretical consideration on the subjects ofender sex sexuality and desire are such a fucking mess From Freud Levi Strauss to Lacan and Foucault to Irigaray Wittig and Kristeva Butler s ot a problem with all of em And so these huge paradigms have first to be apprehended and refigured or dismantled in order for Butler to situate herself in an ongoing and incredibly difficult dialogue This is a tough book there s no doubt about it I think it s far manageable when you ve read the works and thinkers she s discussing at length namely de Beauvoir Wittig Foucault Kristeva and Irigaray among a handful of others but at the same time I think Butler s a really fantastic teacher For all of her obtuse prose Butler is also persistently methodical about leading her reader by the hand through the thoughts she s working through she s often repetitive constantly "figuring out different andor better ways to say "out different andor better ways to say same thing And I don t think this means that she needs an editor I think it means that much of what she s working through doesn t uite fit the languages and tools we work with To conceptualize the notion of a subject without a core an I that is incoherent and an identity that is merely the effect of a number of situated and contingent discourses these are ideas that o against basically everything we know and so this truly does feel as though you re learning a new language But once you ve ot the basics down it becomes a uite thrilling experience if you ask me In any case Butler and I suppose most likely Gender Trouble since that s what skyrocketed her to academic fame and remains the most commonly taught text of hers is a must read for anyone interested in post structuralism deconstruction feminism ueer politics subjectivity co Love her or hate her she remains One Of Our Most Famous of our most famous thinkers on these subjects To my mind this is a deserved status Thrilling new vocabulary with which to alienate friends and offend family Badly written and destructive in its impact on academic discourse Butler is a darling of the theory crowd one of the reuired citations I found nothing in it that went beyond the standard cliches concerning the inadeuacy of essentialist definitions That wouldn t earn it the one star what does is Butler s centrality to the infinite regression school of literarycultural theory By the time Butler s acolytes apparently oblivious to the fact that every third sentence is borderline u Gender Trouble Feminism and the Subversion of Identity Judith ButlerGender Trouble Feminism and the Subversion of Identity 1990 second edition 1999 is a book by the philosopher Judith Butler in which the author argues that ender is a kind of improvised performance The work is influential in feminism women s studies and lesbian and ay studies and has also enjoyed widespread popularity outside of traditional academic circles 2007 1386 Butler s writing is some of the worst I ve encountered in academia A few of her ideas are novel but they are so buried in unnecessarily convoluted reasoning and unexplained references to vaguely related work that they are hardly worth the effort The book also abuses trans people s identities for political purposes Gender Trouble is an extremely thought provoking dense and erudite book In it Butler expounds the idea of ender as something performed rather than an innate and unchangeable uality She also emphasises that the often assumed differentiation of The Unlikeliest Hero: The Story of Desmond T. Doss gender as social construction and sex as biological is both deeply problematic and vastly oversimplified The exploration and critiue of compulsory heterosexuality is likewise excellentThat said Gender Trouble is a challenging book to read The central eighty or so pages took me a disproportionate amount of time toet through as they deal with complicated and seemingly esoteric psychoanalytic theory If I hadn t read Introducing Lacan I wouldn t have understood any of it as a lot of Lacanian terms are used such as the Phallus signifiers paternal law and jouissance As it is please don t ask me for a precise point by point summary From what I understand Freud Lacan and other theorists presuppose a ender binary based on taboos against homosexuality and incest uite apart from the seeming absurdity of such theory ever being universally applicable this approach invites much criticism on feminist rounds For example characterising lesbianism as psychosis and maternity as a product of repressed homosexual desire just seems absurd not to mention offensive Personally the I read of psychoanalytic theory the strongly it seems to take on the uality of fiction Moreover I refuse to believe that sexual desire is the catalyst for so much of the personalityThe commentary on intersectional feminism toward the end of the book was I think the most practical part This I definitely found helpful as context for debates I ve come across It is impressive actually how Butler segues smoothly from the most arcane of theoretical analyses to pragmatic political commentary Even if psychoanalytic theory leaves you cold this book is still well worth reading for its dissection of how we think about ender sex and sexuality It is dense with ideas which Butler articulates effectively You re unlikely to find a thorough deconstruction of the ender binary anywhere As with any book that discusses sexuality I wish that it mentioned asexuality but never mind. Gender Trouble was not to prescribe a new Prisoner of Midnight gendered way of life but to open up the field of possibility forender Widely taught and widely debated Gender Trouble continues to offer a powerful critiue of heteronormativity and of the function of ender in the modern worl. .
Proposed by them Butler derives her conclusions as to how feminism and ender issues can be used to deconstruct hegemonic structures of patriarchy and compulsory heterosexualityHowever a big drawback of this book is that it is apart from being too dense and too technical uite repetitive as well and Confessions of an Air Ambulance Doctor goes about in circles sometimes without a clear end And it is uite long for its content I d much prefer a lucid less repetitive shorter book Butler has some brilliant ideas but theyet lost in the density and repetition but this I uess is a malady affecting all those I ve found exceedingly amazing Foucault Beauvoir Althusser Gramsci Haraway and Spivak They re probably so high up on the technical ladder they can t see us down there In the first section Butler refutes the idea of an essential womanfeminine identity especially in the view of racial and colonial discourses Negating the idea of femininity or womanhood as a stable signifier she sees it as a site for contest that is all the problematic owing to rowing rifts within the feminist discourse that attempts to create a pre patriarchal identity they can revert back toNot only does she find politics of identity counter productive to the liberation of women Butler emphasizes it as a product of the very hegemonic structures feminism wishes to undo Instead Butler advocates coalitional politics what Donna J Haraway would later refer to as politics of affiliation that would eschew a priori assumptions of feminine identityButler 6 1/2 Body Parts (Body Movers, goes on to refute the distinction between sex andender as biological and cultural constructs For her they are historically and Gökyüzü Mavi Kaldı genealogically inseparable and discourses of power have either constructedender from sex or reduced and restricted Corps Values: Everything You Need to Know I Learned In the Marines gender by sexDrawing on Foucault who points out that juridical systems of power produce the subjects they subseuently come to represent Butler concludes that theendersex divide ceases to be the culturenature divide The Sun Shines Over the Sanggan River gender becomes the discursivecultural means by which a natural sex is produced and established as prediscursive prior to culture a politically neutral surface upon which culture acts Taking cues from Beauvoir for whom women are the Other and Irigaray for whom women are multiple identities unrepresentable she explores the formation of and contexts ofender and its sociological implications in the complex webs of race ethnicity and class and further examines their conflicting views on the marking off of the female body by masculinist discourse Drawing on Wittig s argument that doing away with normative heterosexuality will lead to dissolution of the ender binaried thinking aligning with Foucault s view that ender is a production of not biological sex but sexuality Butler argues that Wittig provides a normative humanistic framework as a structure making space for non binaried categories of sexualities under feminism instead of the man vs woman argumentButler proposes that the claim that ender is constructed does not assert its illusoriness or artificiality but acts as an inuiry to understand the discursive production of the plausibility of that binary relation and to suggest that certain cultural configurations of ender take the place of the real and consolidate and augment their hegemony through that felicious self naturalization The following chapter is devoted to the investigation of some aspects of the psychoanalytical structuralist account of sexual difference and the reconstruction of sexuality with respect to its power to contest regulatory regimes as well as its roles in uncritically reproducing those regimes Butler takes up patriarchy one of the focal points of feminist thought along with the idea of a pre patriarchal state that would serve as the basis for a new non patriarchal society She warns of the tendency to universalize patriarchy as a counter productive techniue emphasizing the need for new techniues in the wake of legitimate incursions of feminist theory into the examination of racial and ethnic oppressionStudying the taboo of incest through the lens of Levi Strauss anthropological structuralism which posits a kinship structure River Bodies (Northampton County, governed by women she views Levi Strauss assertion ofender as an imposition on sex as an euivalent of culture s imposition of meaning on nature which is before the law as yet another problematic binary between nature and culture reinforcing culture as male and nature as female and mind as male and the body as a female territoryLevi Strauss argument that the institution of marriage through which women are traded as ood without their own identity acts as an indicator of homoerotic discourse that is implied yet negated the function of marriage is to simultaneously an act of dividing men into different clans and uniting them by the bonds of marriageLevi Strauss maintains that the centrality of the incest taboo establishes the significant nexus between structuralist anthropology and psychoanalysis This prohibitive nature of incest taboo that engenders desire is appropriated by Lacan who contends that the taboo is reproduced in kinship and linguistic structures since it is not sanctioned culturally Language then for Lacan acts as the residue and alternative accomplishment of dissatisfied desire Butler moves on to Joan Riviera along with Lacan both "OF WHO CONSIDER WOMEN AS MASUERADING " who consider women as masuerading men through what Butler would eventually call Gender Performance accentuated with a Phallic lack in order to participate and perpetuate their own subjugation Irigaray too remarked the masuerade is what women do In order to participate in men s desire but at the cost of iving up their own Reviere s argument is that females take up homosexuality not as an expression of their sexual preference but as a way to masuerade as men desirous of women sexually but wishing desperately to enter the realm of men as a man herself eual to other men in status The core here then is not sexuality but rivalry and rageUsing Freud s theories of Oedipal Complex and sexuality and drawing on Foucault Butler notes that emphasis on compulsory heterosexuality coupled with lack of sanction on homosexuality and incest in turn naturalize heterosexuality through the act of mourning and melancholia which leads people to willingly or unwillingly choose a Beneath This Ink gender identityButler remarks that homosexual melancholy is culturally instituted and maintained as the price of stableender identities related through oppositional desires Problematic to me particularly is Butler s notion that bisexuality is indeed the conseuence of child rearing practices in which parents of both sexes are present and presently occupied with child care and in which the repudiation of femininity no longer serves as a precondition of ender identity for both men and women I m not sure I wholly or even partly agree to this though I keep the doors of possibility open The final chapter considers the very notion of the body keep the doors of possibility open The final chapter considers the very notion of the body as a ready surface awaiting signification but as a set of boundaries individual and social politically signified and maintained No longer believable as an interior truth of dispositions and identity sex will be shown to be a performatively enacted signification one that released from its naturalized interiority and surface can occasion the parodic proliferation and subversive play of endered meanings Butler begins with Kristeva s reclaiming of the maternal body within Language as a move against Lacan who held that language and culture indicated repression of women Kristeva appropriated poetic language As Expression Of Femininity expression of femininity Butler considers just as essentialist and binaried a position as Lacan s For Kristeva the act of iving birth is a covert acknowledgement of female homosexuality by which a female bonds with her own mother when she ives birth Female homosexuality to her is the emergence of psychosis in a culture manifest in poetic languageButler deals with Foucault s conflicting views on sex and The Woman You Want to Be: Margery Wilson's Complete Book of Charm gender through a reading of his introduction to the journals of a hermaphrodite Herculine Barbin in 19th century France who committed suicide after she was compelled to act like a man by society on account of her physical characteristics after she confessed to priests and doctors about her condition While Foucault seems to celebrate here a utopian sexuality before the law prohibits it he directly contradicts his own views in The History of Sexuality where he contends that the notion of real sex is illusory since sex is a product of socio cultural discourse and not the cause Butler also reads it as a possibly parallel account of Foucault s own homosexuality about which he was reluctant to talkButler backs her case up by an account of a culturally biased MIT project by aroup of scientists headed by Dr Page who established sex on the basis of the presencelack of testes ie to determine if a person was female the litmus test was whether the person had a testicles or not rather than checking for ovaries and ovarian functionsNext Butler examines Wittig s arguments that the category of sex as well as normative heterosexuality is repressive to women lesbians and ays and that lesbians are not women because to her the category woman is assumed to be a heterosexual identity Drawing on Beauvoir s iconic statement One is not born a woman one becomes one Wittig explores that sex itself is a product of male ideology the Other to males Because one s biological sex has little to do with one s sexuality eg hermaphrodites To Wittig man and woman are political categories not natural factsAligning herself with Marx Wittig further says that language is a fo. N to advance the ideas that would o on to take life as performativity theory as well as some of the first articulations of the possibility for subversive How To Pass The New Police Selection System gender practices and she writes in her preface to the 10th anniversary edition released in 1999 that one point of.

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