Jan 15, 2016

Femenist Philosophy - A Review of Gender Trouble by Judith Butler (1989)

 Femenist Philosophy - A Review of Gender Trouble by Judith Butler (1989)

Butler does a great job dismantling the heterosexual dominance in society and giving more power to alternative sexes, genders, and sexualities. I think feminists and Social Justice Warriors would do well by reading this book - it criticizes some of the idiocy I see in mainstream feminism (spouted by people that were born after this book was published), but also the importance of a type of feminism.

This was a tough read for sure. I have some thinking to do on the topic. I had always thought that 'sex' came from biology and 'gender' came from society. There's a strong correlation between Male and Masculine - Female and Feminine; but not an absolute connection by any means. Butler, I think, questions the foundation of 'sex' coming from biology - which is fair enough since humans are, ultimately, the ones that are slicing reality in that way - there are examples of humans that don't adequately fit into that type of Aristotelian categorization. One of the section in this book, which is for the most part an extended literature review and critique, has Butler dissecting Foucault's essay about such a person.

I want to point out that Butler is very analytical. To the extreme of dissecting Foucault's answer to an interview question about homosexuality. The response that Butler spends two pages discussing? "[Laughter]". Yes, she dissects the meaning and implication of [laughter] using examples from Avicenna and other various historical and contemporary sources. - so I can't be blamed if I didn't find the book entirely convincing.

Each section of this book starts with a quote from an influential scholar. I think a lot can be discovered from the quotes alone.

One is not born a woman, but rather becomes one.
Simone de Beauvoir

Strictly speaking, “women” cannot be said to exist.
Julia Kristeva

Woman does not have a sex.
Luce Irigaray

The deployment of sexuality ... established this notion of sex.
Michel Foucault

The category of sex is the political category that founds society as heterosexual.
Monique Wittig

This really is essential reading for feminist philosophy. Check out this humorous explanation of Butler's gender theory.


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