Last modified on 2 November 2014, at 04:15

Judith Butler

Gender is not something that one is, it is something one does, an act.

Judith Butler (born 24 February 1956) is an American post-structuralist philosopher who has contributed to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy, and ethics.

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  • Gender is not something that one is, it is something one does, an act… a "doing" rather than a "being".
  • There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very "expressions" that are said to be its results.
  • If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps this construct called ‘sex’ is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it was always already gender, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all.
    • "Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity" (1990)
  • Gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original; in fact, it is a kind of imitation that produces the very notion of the original as an effect and consequence of the imitation itself.
    • "Imitation and Gender Insubordination" in Inside/Out (1991) edited by Diana Fuss
  • Indeed it may be only by risking the incoherence of identity that connection is possible.
    • Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (1993)
  • Perhaps the promise of phallus is always dissatisfying in some way.
    • "The Lesbian Phallus and the Morphological Imaginary" (1993), later published in The Judith Butler Reader (2004) edited by Sarah Salih with Judith Butler
  • The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
    • "Further Reflections on the Conversations of Our Time" (1997), which received first place in the Philosophy and Literature Bad Writing Contest
  • There was a brief moment after 9/11 when Colin Powell said “we should not rush to satisfy the desire for revenge.” It was a great moment, an extraordinary moment, because what he was actually asking people to do was to stay with a sense of grief, mournfulness, and vulnerability.
    • Interview with Judith Butler. in: The Believer. May 2003
  • I am much more open about categories of gender, and my feminism has been about women's safety from violence, increased literacy, decreased poverty and more equality. I was never against the category of men.
    • Judith Butler "As a Jew, I was taught it was ethically imperative to speak up" in Haaretz. February 24, 2010

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