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Gender Trouble: Femini...
Judith Butler
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Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  6,029 ratings  ·  285 reviews
One of the most talked-about scholarly works of the past fifty years, Judith Butler s Gender Trouble is as celebrated as it is controversial.

Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, 'essential' notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category 'woman' and continues in this vein with examinations of 'the masc
ebook, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Routledge (first published 1989)
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Lisa What about Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine. She talks about neuroscience in relation to gender and about how the differences aren't hardwired.
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Some very interesting ideas here imprisoned in a lot of opaque, 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 quite up to the task of fully engaging with texts like this – as if it were their fault!

You know what? If a series of highly educated, intelligent and well-read adults do n
You know, the problem with troubling gender is that gender isn’t the only thing that is going 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 generally skip over in books – the titles of chapters for one, but much more importantly, epigraphs. The example he gave 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 pl ...more
May 16, 2008 Colin marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I remember, really vividly, the exact moment I realized my bachelor's degree in the humanities was basically worthless. It was my last semester of college, about two weeks from the end, and I was in my Sociology of Birth and Death course. The professor was a Brandeis-educated woman, heavy into earth-mothery visions of life and death who had taken a sociology class with Morrie (of the Mitch Albom book Tuesdays With Morrie, which to date is the stupidest book I've ever read; that might say a lot a ...more
Lit Bug
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 never get into Kristeva, and had read little or nothing of Wittig, Reviere, Cixous and Mary Douglas. On that account, this seemed to be a quite difficult text, but I suppose some ...more
Still no real review yet, but in my research for this I found 'Judith Butler Explained with Cats', an instructive Socratic dialogue on Butler's idea of gender as a performance.
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Look at this. It lays out the idea very clearly and it has cat pictures. How am I going to compete with this.
Craig Werner
Badly written and destructive in its impact on academic discourse. Butler is a darling of the theory crowd, one of the required citations. I found nothing in it that went beyond the standard cliches concerning the inadequacy of essentialist definitions. That wouldn't earn it the one star; what does is Butler's centrality to the infinite regression school of literary/cultural theory. By the time Butler's acolytes--apparently oblivious to the fact that every third sentence is borderline ungrammati ...more
David Michael
Aug 30, 2007 David Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All of us
Shelves: favorites
True, it is a bit dated today, and I would distance myself from her strong emphasis on psychoanalysis and performativity, but it was a radical turning point in my life, and is close to perfect as a theory text.
Its impact on contemporary feminism and critical practices can not be underestimated. This book will always be close to my heart.
This book is gross and so is Judith Butler. I'm getting tired of wealthy cis women writing books about 'gender'. Her understanding of gender is very binarist and cissexist, not queering anything, instead creepily fixating on genitals and penis-hate and familial sexual violence (her main reference point throughout the book).

She mentions trans people for the first time about seventy-five pages in, and I kind of wish she hadn't at all. She spoke of us in a very pathologising and mocking way, also v
Thrilling new vocabulary with which to alienate friends and offend family
'Gender Trouble' is an extremely thought-provoking, dense, and erudite book. In it, Butler expounds the idea of gender as something performed, rather than an innate and unchangeable quality. She also emphasises that the often-assumed differentiation of gender as social construction and sex as biological is both deeply problematic and vastly oversimplified. The exploration and critique of compulsory heterosexuality is likewise excellent.

That said, 'Gender Trouble' is a challenging book to read. T
Butler has numerous loud detractors, and faces a variety of underhanded compliments, even on this very website, along the lines of comments such as: "oh, she's smart, but *only* when she's not talking about gender." OR "Butler would be great if she wasn't such an impenetrable writer."

Well, I'll say it outright. I love Butler. I love Gender Trouble. I love Bodies that Matter. I love Giving an Account of Oneself. I love basically everything I've read by her, and I'm always excited to have the opp
Nov 07, 2007 k8inorbit rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gender studies, queer studies
It's incredibly difficult to get past Butler's writing style, which is notoriously dense. (We're talking Ghengis Khan levels of "notorious".) Ultimately this makes the reading experience so frustrating that it's hard to appreciate or understand the theory.

I also found Butler's writing to be extremely repetitive. She tends to restate the same concept in a variety of ways, without really doing anything further with it. Ultimately, I think she could benefit from an editor, but many academics seem
Butler's writing is some of the worst I've encountered in academia. A few of her ideas are novel, but they are so buried in unnecessarily convoluted reasoning and unexplained references to vaguely related work that they are hardly worth the effort. The book also abuses trans people's identities for political purposes.
More than anything, I'm impressed with the scope of Gender Trouble. Having a basic keyword understanding of Butler's theory, but no primary exposure, I was fully expecting her to stay in the realm of abstract poststructuralist "il n'y a pas de hors-texte" performativity of gender, so when she dipped into the reification of biological sex by means of gender restrictions, I was thoroughly impressed. Part of that impression was the realization that rather than being a ridiculous over-stepping of bo ...more
OK, so gender is chiefly performative. This seems reasonable. And at the beginning of the book, I was on her side-- hell, "androgyny is a cultural imperative" was a mantra to me in my college days. But I think Butler goes a bit overboard with the idea, attributing a degree of fluidity to gender that seems more prescriptive than descriptive. I agree that mid-century French feminists were more essentialist than they cared to admit, and I'm impressed with the way that Butler cleaned house in regard ...more
Convinced, even though it's reputation precedes my reading, that this is one of the most important, concise and virtuosic works of philosophy of the last 30 years. Furthermore, I can assure anyone wanting to read it that it's so much more vital than the many people who propose it, yet misunderstand it, would have you believe.

Also, I find it reductive to refer to this work simply as one of either (or both) feminist or gender theory. It goes beyond all that. Butler's erudition, along with the dis
Apr 28, 2009 Vaughn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who know their 20th C. French philosophy
Recommended to Vaughn by: a friend from college
Shelves: gender
First let me say that this is a thorough, well-argued treatment of the relationship between gender, sex, and sexual behavior, as they have been conceived in the past. By treating this relationship as it does, Gender Trouble reconfigures the nexus of these binaries and multiplies them to infinity: the "et cetera" (and others), an embarrassed catch-all, becomes something more like "et differentia," expanding along all dimensions.
If you're into French feminists (Kristeva, Irigaray, Wittig, are ci
In this book, Butler exposes the problems resulting from the identification of gender based on the biological difference between men and women. This classification is constructed by discourse with the objective of recreating hegemonic paradigms and perpetuating current power relations. Defining Women and Men as universal categories disguises the interests it serves. Therefore, anything that is defined as natural or universal should be studied critically. She writes, “Signification is not a foun ...more
One of the most widely known books on gender studies, Butler challenges French feminist essentialist thought. She also touches on sex determination in genetics and gender play. Butler also challenges basic gender distinctions both in traditional and feminist discourse and relates the distinctions made to their political and social power structures. In a nutshell, it's all about gender-as-culture.
labor intensive, but that's a virtue, as is the progressive gender theory, which 'solicits' gender in the derridean sense (i.e., the title's 'trouble'). is a bad book, however, insofar as it is probably immaterialist.
Nadosia Grey
Using theory as teleology
It definitely seems that Butler is using theory—specifically Derrida’s deconstruction—for a goal. Some critics have argued that theory shouldn’t be used in this manner, i.e., theory shouldn’t be used for a specific political or teleological goal. While I agree to an extent, it’s clear that the goal in this work is to disrupt the gender binary system that has been naturalized. That’s all the deconstruction is for: simply establishing the free-play that was not once there
A little academic for those of you not into that, but for all my feminist pals you should take a look at this book or anything by Judith Butler.
I feel like maybe I am not actually qualified to be rating this book, as I understood very little of it.
Ill freely admit that this might have been one of the most difficult texts I have ever read: convoluted structures and phrases, with a heavy dose of incomprehensible academic lingo. Often I could reread a passage several times, without getting to the bottom of its meaning. I liked the part where she justified her at times strange grammar and sentence structures with the fact that the ideas she
Mariam Abood
Can I please put as a disclaimer that this is my opinion as an intersectional feminist.

So this book was really interesting and insightful, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs to study feminism at school, and doesn't know where to start, or I would recommend this book to you if you just have an interest in feminism and want some enlightenment.

The main problem however, that I had with this book was the fact that it was almost too intelligent, if that makes any sense. Judith Butle
Reading Gender Trouble for the first time 20+ years after its original publication is, for people familiar with contemporary feminist and queer thought on gender, a bit of a "duh" moment. Of course, most people in the field talk with ease about the construction of gender, but when this book came out it was very influential. Butler is also here building on prior (mostly French psychoanalytic) work to discuss the construction of sex - questioning whether "women" as a group and the basis of the fem ...more
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Butler's writing is dense and difficult work in places, but her thought is original and profound. I had read secondary treatments of her before, but never the original work, and I'm glad to have accomplished it. Though I began this book in January and read bits and pieces here and there over the ensuing months, I read the final third of it pretty quickly over the last 24 hours because those sections were so engaging.

In this excerpt you get a good sense of one of her main points:

Because gender is
As with every theoretical text I find informative, fascinating, widely useful, etc., there are always a number of problems to discuss along side the issues that make this an influential theoretical work. For instance, Judith Butler stiiiill has not dealt with dis/ability in a decent way, despite the fact that so many damned dis/ability theorists use her work constantly (and coincidentally, problematize her work as much as they revere it).

Of course, Butler is not herself dis/abled, but this of co
Abby Brown
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler asks "How do non-normative sexual practices call into question the stability of gender as a category of analysis?" (Butler 1990:xi). Butler focuses on disparity and connections between concepts of sex, gender, sexual practice, and desire. She describes the "trouble" in gender: normative sexuality fortifies normative gender but those that challenge such norms might fear a loss of gender place; gender norms perpetuate violence and de-naturalization of gender envisio ...more
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2015: The Year of...: Gender Trouble by Judith Butler 2 14 Jan 03, 2015 01:34AM  
  • Epistemology of the Closet
  • Female Masculinity
  • This Sex Which Is Not One
  • The Straight Mind: And Other Essays
  • No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive
  • Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times
  • Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality
  • Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism
  • Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center
  • Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body
  • The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life
  • Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity
  • The History of Sexuality 1: An Introduction
  • Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity
  • Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
  • Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature
  • Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us
  • Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography
Judith Butler is an American post-structuralist and feminist philosopher who has contributed to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy and ethics. She is currently a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley.
Butler received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University in 1984, for a dissertation subsequently publi
More about Judith Butler...
Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" Undoing Gender Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left

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“If Lacan presumes that female homosexuality issues from a disappointed heterosexuality, as observation is said to show, could it not be equally clear to the observer that heterosexuality issues from a disappointed homosexuality?” 44 likes
“As a result, gender is not to culture as sex is to nature; gender is
also the discursive/cultural means by which “sexed nature” or “a natural
sex” is produced and established as “prediscursive,” prior to culture,
a politically neutral surface on which culture acts”
More quotes…