Does Judith Butler believe in hard-wired gender roles?

From this quote, I’d say no, but I keep seeing her being referenced by gender essentialists.

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From Femini$t Ke$ha

4 responses

  1. Butler doesn’t believe in gender identity as something that exists in the brain, or as something that one is “born with”, like many trans activists do- she’s a post-structuralist, so she argues that gender exists only in our learned performance of it. However she suggests that the solution is to make up lots of other gender expressions and dilute the performance, and that by doing away with a two-gender system gender would cease to be oppressive, rather than that we should just do away with gender altogether.

    The trouble with Judith Butler is that she exists at an awkward junction of “highly lauded” and “difficult to understand”, so that when people discuss Butler they are usually discussing what they have heard that she thinks, rather than what she actually writes and says, because reading her books is too hard.

  2. Those people will lie, cheat, steal ideas, do anything they can do prop up their rotting hulk of an ideology.

  3. However she suggests that the solution is to make up lots of other gender expressions and dilute the performance, and that by doing away with a two-gender system gender would cease to be oppressive, rather than that we should just do away with gender altogether.

    See, this is what I really don’t get, how is a few more restrictive boxes all that much better than two boxes, or, if everyone has their own unique individual ‘gender’ how is it ‘gender’ at all, and not just ‘personality’?

    Why do we have to ‘perform’ anything in the first place?

    Plus, I don’t see anything trans activist do that actually works towards this ‘dilution of gender’, transgenderism simply reinforces gender roles and the false link between sex and gender.

    ‘Gender queer’ is a meaningless special snowflake label that simply reinforces the status quo – you can’t transgress without a status quo to transgress against, you can’t ‘queer’ something without the ‘straight’ version to compare against – ‘gender queer’ can’t exist outside of a framework of strict gender roles.

    – Oh my god you’re wearing army boots and glitter lipstick, how transgressive.

    Just reinforces the idea that those two things are poles apart, and them meeting is some kind of big deal.

  4. Why do we have to ‘perform’ anything in the first place?

    Well, we don’t have to. However, when people like Butler talk about “performance” they mean “acting out roles in a public space in front of an audience”. (It’s true that when properly internalized you might also begin to do this without an audience in your private home.) Basically, gender is a matter of public importance and debate – all gendered cues are open to interpretation. Seeing as we are socialized into a certain way of seeing men and women it’s highly likely that our behavior will not be interpreted as genderless. Additionally, the way we have been brought up serves to further strengthen our socialization since internalized roles have the tendency to become habitual (i.e. outside of conscious control). So, consequently, it does not make sense for Butler to abolish gender because she does not belief that people have the power to change their perceptions while they are acting.

    You’re completely right re: genderqueer. Sociologists do not believe that you can not NOT perform gender (neither does Butler). Genderqueers do not actually understand in which way they can become transgressive. Basically, it has nothing to do with their own behavior – it’s the way people see them which might inspire doubts about gender roles. There’s no reason to run around feeling like a rebel if you’re a guy in skirt or lipstick since intent does not matter. You can also “disturb the binary” if you aren’t genderqueer.

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