Judith Butler

American philosopher and gender theorist
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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  • 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.
    • "Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity" (1990)
  • 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.
    • "As a Jew, I was taught it was ethically imperative to speak up" in Haaretz. February 24, 2010

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