Butler, Judith

Butler, Judith

(1956-) U.S. feminist scholar, whose best known work, Gender Trouble (1990) and Bodies That Matter (1993), argues that feminism mistakenly followed the same route as the patriarchal meta-narratives it tried to overturn by treating women and men in fixed sex/gender categories. She maintained that this approach reinforced the existing binary view of gender relations, contributing to the repetition of old essentialist identity constructs. Butler explains that gender is performative – a role that is acted out by socially constituted subjects who merely repeat a culturally naturalized discourse of ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ which aligns anatomical sex with sexual desire. This process, she states, contributes to the devaluation of other sexualities and restricts possibilities for sex/gender exploration by maintaining that we have an ‘authentic’ inner essence that dictates our identity formation. Influenced by the deconstructive and psychoanalytic work of theorists such as Michel FOUCAULT, Julia KRISTEVA and Jacques LACAN, she argues that the answer to this problem lies in removing sex/gender as a restrictive code. Butler promotes parody as a way to subvert established conventions. Here, individuals can perform flexible identities that resist dominant practices. Her theories have been widely adopted within the growing rhetoric of QUEER THEORY, which finds her use of parody a potent political strategy for destabilizing existing heterosexual norms.
References in periodicals archive ?
Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence.
Butler, Judith en Kirby, V.: Judith Butler: Pensamiento en accion.
BUTLER, Judith. Bodies that matter: on the discursive limits of "sex".