Compliance and Resistance to Gender Ideals with Analysis of Judith Butler

547 Words3 Pages
Judith Butler discusses gender roles in terms of performance and feminist criticism in her essay "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory." Butler’s theory of gender being classified based on performance is agreeable. She uses other theories of gender, such as Simone de Beauvoir’s, to solidify her own. There are different accounts that can be explained by Butler’s ‘performative gender’ such as gender reassignment and the subtle masculine and feminine differences that categorize a naturally considered male or female to be ‘tom-boyish’ or ‘gay.’ Firstly, Butler gives a thorough explanation of what the ‘performative gender’ theory is. Her theory was based upon an ‘action theory,’ stating that whoever seeks to understand what it is ‘to do’ prior to any claim of what one ought to do. Butler establishes that gender is an abstracted, mass perception which is rendered as solid because it is socially objectified. She contests through her usage of Simone de Beauvoir, that “one is not born, but rather, becomes a woman,” that gender is not a traditional identity but a repetition of acts. This repetition of acts stylizes the gender and it is not the gender that is stylized by the body. If it is the acts that stylize the gender, why do some people find it necessary to obtain a ‘reassigned’ gender? Maybe this could be explained through Butler’s explanation that the physical body only bears cultural meanings. Since social existence is defined by the physical, this could be a reason why gender reassignment is found necessary to fulfill their cultural meanings. This physical change will represent the completion of their physical transformation, from either male to female or vice versa. Other reasons include that they were categorized in the wrong body and wanted to become what they were meant to be. That this mode of embodying and
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