Some very interesting ideas here imprisoned in a lot of opaue tortuous sentences Postmodern academese remains the only major European language that I am completely incapable of understanding I am also sick to death of seeing intelligent friends both here and in real life make apologetic comments about how they weren t uite up to the task of fully engaging with texts like this as if it were their faultYou know what If a series of highly educated intelligent and well read adults do not properly understand you that is because your writing is confused not because your ideas are too complex to be captured by mere language In actual fact far from being complex many of these ideas when expressed in familiar terms are so simple as to be trivially refuted which is one of the things that makes me so suspicious about this kind of prose styleSo yes this is one of those books where honesty is called efforts to wield the discourse of truth and a language built by men is a closed phallogocentric signifying economy We are asked to consider the heterosexual matrix and medicojuridical hegemonies and to ponder the normative telos of definitional closure Not to mention the usual postmodernist distraction of irritating and trivial puns she is the masculine sex encore and en corps When I say that these phrases are nonsense which they are I don t want to be misunderstood It s not that I reject the concepts being discussed because I don t What I object to is being asked to accept these terms on no evidence and with no discussion so that combinations of them become divorced from reality altogether God how I wish for some examples when I read books like this A little data some evidence some anecdotes anything to show what kind of behaviour or thought processes in real life are being referred to Instead the whole thing becomes a sort of linguistic ame where abstract concepts are manipulated in isolation from realityWhat really made me angry and I m sorry for this lengthy rant I will The Age of Light get to the book s arguments in due course but what really upset me was Butler s introduction where she acknowledges the complaints that have been made about her language and proceeds to double down It would be a mistake she writes to think that receivedrammar is the best vehicle for expressing radical views L'opticien de Lampedusa given the constraints thatrammar imposes upon thought indeed upon the thinkable itself Need I point out that no one has the slightest idea whether Doomsday Men: The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon grammar imposes any constraints upon thought most linguists would say it does not In any case receivedrammar may not be the best vehicle but at least it doesn t have four flat tyres like Butler s own syntax does Radical ideas do not become conventional by being expressed clearly they only become better disseminatedIt does not surprise me one bit that so many of these writers of theory are sceptical about language s communicative ability and uestion whether language can really communicate anything meaningful at all If I wrote as poorly as they do I d have similar concernsDeep breath with that rant out of the way let me just offer a few disconnected reading notes on some of the very interesting ideas in the book insofar as they were at all comprehensibleButler s main idea is that ender is not a binary thing but instead a spectrum of available identities which has no simple link to biological sex That being the case ender is seen not as a physical or even a mental property but rather as something performative Whoops!: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay gender comes into being through being enacted in a myriad small and large ways within society There is noender identity behind the expressions of Michelangelo: His Epic Life gender That s the capsule summary of what soing on here but the arguments involved are often fascinating I thought she was particularly strong on the ways in which Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gender and sex are related to sexuality and desire She recognises the huge variety of things that turn people on and she s surprisingly practical about whether women should worry that their desires have been conditioned by a patriarchal society Women that don t understand that premise she warns could be potentially written off as male identified or unenlightened This is implicitly contra thinkers like Dworkin and also modern writers like Ariel Levy who in broad terms would like to imagine a new female sexuality constructed outside the influence and consideration of men Butler doubts whether this is possible or desirable More importantly she sees that it becomes yet another way of criticising women who aren t turned on by the right thingsWhere I start to lose her or rather where she becomes especially challenging is when she conflatesender roles and psychological states with physical biology For instance she very astutely notes that the body is often not the round or cause of sexual desire but rather its occasion and its object People sometimes fantasise about exaggerated or altered bodies or imagine themselves as the opposite sex here sexual pleasure is coming somehow from the #idea of the physical frame rather than from the physical frame itself But #of the physical frame rather than from the physical frame itself But is used to suggest that conventional erogenous zones are therefore only conceivable foci of pleasure precisely because they Correspond To A Normative Ideal Of A to a normative ideal of a specific body which I find very doubtful Men do not for instance ain any direct sexual pleasure from their facial hair or Adam s apples They rely on the dense network of nerve endings found at mucus membranes like the Making Sense of Leadership: Exploring the Five Key Roles Used by Effective Leaders genitals as indeed do womenIneneral there is a kind of confusion between sexual desire on the one hand and the physical reactions of sexual pleasure on the other the former may not be tied to the body but the latter certainly are which is one of the things that can make sexual assault so confusing and upsetting Still Butler says my opinion is a literalizing fantasy which is characteristic of the syndrome of melancholic heterosexuality so what do I knowThe same issue comes up when she examines the nature of ender and sex themselves For Butler biological sex not just ender is a regulatory fiction and indeed she suggests that the social convention of having two Gandhi Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age genders is one of the ways by which a legal and linguistic two sex distinction is maintained To put it another way theender trouble of the title is founded precisely on the assumed instability of biological sexI am not convinced by this but the arguments are interesting Mostly the focus is on what it means for the idea of women there is very little agreement after all on what it is that constitutes or ought to constitute the category of women This is mostly building on de Beauvoir s famous dictum On ne na t pas femme on le devient You are not born a woman you become one still it s strange to me and historically suggestive that these arguments never seem to exercise men in the same way One of the reasons I wanted to read this book was to et a better understanding of the arguments that regularly fly around about transsexuality and specifically how it fits with feminism and although a lot in here was useful on that score it is also frustrating to the extent that it is sometimes unclear whether Butler is discussing sex or ender or both Or neitherHistorically feminism has worked to break down the importance of I Was A Stranger gender while alsoenerating a kind of solidarity among those of a particular sexTo some second eneration feminists transpeople appeared to o against all this In the affinity they feel to a different biological sex they seem implicitly to reinforce the link between that sex and its traditional The Lives of Stay-at-Home Fathers: Masculinity, Carework and Fatherhood in the United States gender roles After all if biology is not destiny one of feminism sreat rallying cries then why would anyone need or want to have a different biology Trans skeptic feminists this is a neutral term than most would use complain that transpeople are not interested in subverting the constraints of their own ender but rather want to adopt a different oneGermaine Greer s views are notorious women must sympathize with transsexuals but a feminist must argue that the treatment for ender role distress is not mutilation of the sufferer but radical change of Gone: The Disappearance of Claudia Lawrence and Her Father's Desperate Search for the Truth gender roles Sex change surgery is profoundly conservative in that it reinforces sharply contrastingender roles by shaping individuals to fit them Julie Bindel bluntly I don t have a problem with men disposing of their 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts genitals but it does not make them women in the same way that shoving a bit of vacuum hose down your 501s does not make you a man Behind all this is the looming spectre of biological essentialism I might be happy to treat someone as a woman refer to them as a woman and fundamentally consider them a woman as in fact I am but at the end of the day your biological sex is a matter of fact not a matter of assertion This has practical implications doctors need to know that transmen are at risk of ovarian cancer say but it also has implications for solidarity androup identity Moonrise (Snowfall, generally I have to be sensitive to the fact that not all women would be comfortable taking advice in a rape survival supportroup from someone who has XY chromosomes and a penis no matter how firmly they identify as female This is not a made up example Google the Vancouver Rape Relief
*women s shelter *s Shelter a famous test caseHowever recent waves of feminism have instead chosen to see sex as a matter of felt identity one s brain sex as some call it which might eventually be found to have some neurological basis or might just be a matter of profound feeling On this view transwomen are not men who have cut off their enitals to become women they are women in some essential sense who happen to be lumbered at birth with a male physiologyIn some ways it might seem to be a matter of trivial importance What kind of person would you be if you needed to check inside someone s underwear or their chromosomes before deciding how to treat them Which is true as far as basic respect and rights and values are concerned But there is also something to be said perhaps for shared experiences Biologically female experiences like childbirth facing the menopause bleeding every month access to abortion and reproductive control these have been a crucial part of female rights and female solidarity and the feminist movement and some women have been cautious about the idea that the word woman can now include people who have experienced none of them I think this is not an outrageous position to take but attempts to articulate it tend to be silenced now by accusations of transphobia or cissexism and many people feel understandably strongly about it because transsexual people face such vastly inflated risks of violence abuse depression and suicide to which ill judged statements might contributeWhat are we really arguing about here Pure semantics how we define the categories man woman But this is so deeply a part of people s sense of self that the debate can be astonishingly acrimonious Perhaps we should make such a binary distinction less important to our sense of self and perhaps the whole thing is built on a much shakier foundation that we realise Butler s book offers few solutions but lots of revelatory if badly explained new ways to think about these ideas You know the problem with troubling ender is that Hello, Snow! gender isn t the only thing that isoing to be troubled When I was doing my first degree my lecturer in the editing subject said that you should pay attention to the things people A Little Dinner Before the Play generally skip over in books the titles of chapters for one but much importantly epigraphs The example heave was Watership Down which he claimed that if you read all of at the start of each of the chapters and said rabbits a couple of times you could plausibly Mastering the Art of Saying No Without Feeling Guilty: Tips, Techniques and Strategies get away with reading nothing else in the book and still know what the book was about I ve never bothered even doing this but it would be an amusing exercise What I can tell you is that this book can be pretty well summarised by the five uotes used as epigraphs immediately after the title pageOne is not born a woman but rather becomes oneSimone de BeauvoirStrictly speaking women cannot be said to existJulia KristevaWoman does not have a sexLuce IrigarayThe deployment of sexuality established this notion of sexMichel FoucaultThe category of sex is the political category that founds society as heterosexualMoniue WittigThis book is a working through of the implications of these five uotations The takeaway message is thatender and sex too is a performance not a pre existing state but a series of practices although I think we need something stronger like habits only stronger still that are made real by being constantly enforced and reinforced That s the key thing these are practices that are made normative by their repetition and how society regulates their adherence My favourite part of this book was what she does with de Beauvoir s uote about becoming a woman The issue here is around the notion of a pre existing subject The problem is complicated as such a pre existing and non Yuganta, The End Of An Epoch ge. Since its publication in 1990 Gender Trouble has become one of the key works of contemporary feminist theory and an essential work for anyone interested in the study ofender ueer theory or the politics of sexuality in culture This is the text where Judith Butler bega. Ndered subject simply does not exist This is a point that is made beautifully in Delusions of Gender How Our Minds Society and Neurosexism Create Difference we like to think we bring up our children in ways that are Once a Wicked Lady: A Biography of Margaret Lockwood gender neutral but in a society that colour codes children at birth as either pink or blue we are really kidding ourselves We literally only have a subjectivity once we have a sex try telling someone that you ve had a baby and not tell them the sex of the child and see how long the conversation lasts or how free flowing it isNow I moing to Forbidden Reading give myrossly simplified version of this book but look this is a classic text for a very A Northern Line Minute: The Northern Line good reason it is basically a summary of lots of very important ideas aboutender and is a seminal text in ueer Theory so I m not Future Focus going to do this one justice Just sayingI think it isood to ask why is all this important Firstly Major Problems in American Urban and Suburban History: Documents and Essays gender is so important in deciding the kinds of persons we will be the kinds of lives we will live and be allowed to live that to accept theender roles assigned to us at birth is to accept remarkable restrictions as purely natural The uestion is just who decided what natural meant I remember an Australian politician saying of homosexuality you don t see animals in the field doing that sort of thing It turns out that you do see animals engaging in homosexual behaviours or at least what we would classify as such All the same this is a stupid argument by a stupid person You don t see animals in the field reading books either are we to stop reading out of solidarity with sheepMy point isn t just about homosexual behaviours a friend of mine once told me how angry she became after hearing a woman on the radio wonder aloud about just what it is that lesbians actually do in bed Imagine how bad your sex life would need to be for that to be an open uestion Your sex life would need to be summed up by the phrase whip it in whip it out and wipe it Also A Sting in the Tale gender isn t a simple dualism even if you ignore the proportion of the population that are homosexual or transsexual As Butler points out here there is a sense in which maleness isn t really aender at all but rather the default in our society like white also is the default the taken for ranted the sex that is not seen In this sense the only ender is female the eternal other and this Devil's Red Nickel gender is defined like some terrible joke from primary school by a lack of the femaleIsn t it remarkable that our whole life is constructed around the shape of ourenitals and yet we spend all of those lives keeping them pretty well completely hidden In fact if you are after a uick way to Social Class in Contemporary Japan: Structures, Sorting and Strategies get arrested exposing yourenitals in public is probably as effective as anything else And this is particularly bizarre as so many of our social behaviours are directed at making it clear which set of Clubland UK: On the Door in the Rave Era genitals we have Literal hiding followed by ritualised display Sort of I veot a penis I ve John Flynn's Double Wedding Ring Step-by-Step Workbook got a penis but you can t see itI should speak only for myself I ve started this sentence a number of times now with ever decreasingenerality but I find that when I have to spend time with what might be called hyper masculine or hyper feminine people my most consistent emotion is boredom Oh Christ they aren t really still talking about football cars makeup and weight loss are they How can they stand being themselves The problem many people might have with this book is that they will think the argument is a nurture over nature one which is actually not the case This is a book that is focused on the complex dialectic of human behaviour and one that says that the simple pre decided categories of male and female provide constraints that we really ought to think through before accepting them blindly That is that our habits and ways of being as regulated and enforced by society come with many constraints than just who we can and cannot have sex with If The Book of Tapas gender is a performance then it is one that reuires us to remain in character that decides what we can and cannot do even before any conscious decision can be made Such restraint is the very opposite of freedom This is a point Butler makes at the end of this book where what is presented is the dialectic of agency and construction such that in realising how we are constructed by social norms we have at last a means of acting in ways that might undermine and trouble those norms rather than our merely remaining repressed by them This was a woefully dense text meant primarily for those who have read enough feminism to have at least a basic idea of the major concepts of feminist theory as well a basic idea of the theorists from whom Butler draws her arguments I was aware of what Foucault Beauvoir Lacan Freud and Levi Strauss stood for could neveret into Kristeva and had read little or nothing of Wittig Reviere Cixous and Mary Douglas On that account this seemed to be a uite difficult text but I suppose someone familiar with their basic ideas will find it uite lucidMostly this is a postmodernist approach that refutes simplistic assumptions of feminine identity and is inclusive than earlier feminist stances Drawing upon various theorists Butler charts the way ahead where binaries of not only men and women but that of sex and ender too could be transgressed in a way it would expose the artificiality of the hegemonic patriarchal discourse and the fallacies of earlier feminist discourse which addressed narrower specific concerns that were representative of their own particular historical social economic and eographic positionsOverall iven the exhaustive study of various standpoint theories I am extremely surprised Butler leaves out Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak altogether despite her being a postmodern Marxist feminist when she had briefly discussed Eagleton and Marx as well and very early on drew attention to the pluralistic complexity of feminist theory today with concerns of age time place ethnicity class sexuality and religionPerhaps I temporarily conclude this is as much a West centric text as others but in that specific framework I deduce it works fineThrough this text Butler proceeds to consolidate her theory of Gender Performativity by extrapolating on various discourses of power and sexuality by cultural theoristsfeministspsychoanalysts such as Beauvoir Foucault Irigaray Cixous Wittig Reviere Freud Lacan Kristeva and Levi Strauss Forming a base from the acceptance andor refutation of the theories 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 oes 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 they et 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 Ttechnical ladder they can t 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 The Magic of Thinking Big goes on to refute the distinction between sex andender as biological and cultural constructs For her they are historically and A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove genealogically inseparable and discourses of power have either constructedender from sex or reduced and restricted Peas Book of Best Friends 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 An English Psychic in Hollywood 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 "for non binaried categories of sexualities under feminism instead 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 overned #by women she views Levi Strauss assertion of ender as an imposition on sex as an euivalent of culture #women she views Levi Strauss assertion of ender as an imposition on sex as an euivalent of culture 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 as 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 ender identityButler remarks that homosexual melancholy is culturally instituted and maintained as the price of stable Fairytale Food: Enchanting Recipes to Bring a Little Magic to Your Cooking gender identities related through oppositional desires Problematic to me particularly is Butler s notion that bisexuality is indeed the conseue. N to advance the ideas that wouldo on to take life as performativity theory as well as some of the first articulations of the possibility for subversive Unnatural (Enlightenment, gender practices and she writes in her preface to the 10th anniversary edition released in 1999 that one point of.