Judith Butler Constructed Identity Summary

Decent Essays

For my essay I chose to analyze Judith Butler’s conception of performative acts and gender constitution. Butler’s feminist phenomenology states that gender identity is a performative act necessitated by social norms and taboo (p. 520). Gender constitutes a series of acts that one does and is not necessarily related to one’s sex. However the society in which we live ties gender and sex together with certain traits associated with each sex. The act of performing gender by its very nature is an act that is happening, such as the act of promising by saying “I promise.” In such a scenario gender is performed through mundane bodily acts. Gender therefore is an identity that is constantly built through time, and is essentially constructed through …show more content…

522). We assume that gender is natural, and often fail to realize that it is naturalized through performative acts. Gender is a constructed identity and we sometimes take the appearance of substance as reality, when in fact it is only a constructed identity. Butler states that gender is a product of historical construction and not a natural phenomenon. The natural, physical body is separate from the cultural underpinnings it comes to encompass. She posits that bodies become gendered through a “legacy of sedimented acts” that are demonstrated over a period of time. Butler does not subscribe to the notion that gender comes from a predetermined structure of being. The legacy of sedimented acts consists of habitual performative acts of the respective individual and the adoption of gender norms that produce the conditions of natural sex. Butler argues for the creation of a genealogy of gender based on a phenomenological understanding of “acts” as “socially shared and historically constituted” (p. 530). She recognizes the importance of political advancement of women, however she cautions to not unwittingly re-establish binary restriction of gender instead, Butler calls for relinquishment of power to expand the cultural notion of gender through subversive performative

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