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Gender Trouble

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,974 Ratings  ·  325 Reviews
Since its publication in 1990, Gender Trouble has become one of the key works of contemporary feminist theory, and an essential work for anyone interested in the study of gender, queer theory, or the politics of sexuality in culture. This is the text where Judith Butler began to advance the ideas that would go on to take life as "performativity theory," as well as some of ...more
Paperback, Routledge Classics, 236 pages
Published May 12th 2006 by Routledge (first published 1989)
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Mar 12, 2015 Warwick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender-stuff, ebooks

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
Dec 17, 2013 Trevor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-theory
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
peiman-mir5 rezakhani
دوستانِ خردگرا، در موردِ این کتاب باید بگویم که بسیار سخت و پیچیده بیان شده است... برایِ مطالعۀ این کتاب، بدونِ تردید باید آگاهی از اصطلاحات سیاسی و ادبیاتِ حزبی و بخصوص استدلال هایِ رایجِ آکادمیکیِ فمینیستی داشته باشید... به هرحال برایِ فهمِ «فمینیسم» در سطحِ بسیار بالا، کتابِ خوبی بود
امیدوارم روزی برسد که در سرزمینِ با ارزشمان ایران، همانندِ ایرانیانِ قبل از تجاوز و حملۀ تازیان، ساکنینِ این مرز و بوم برایِ جنسِ لطیف و ظریفِ « زن » ارزش قائل شوند و از احکام دینی و مذهبی و روش های غیر انسانی عرب
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.
(Source is

Look at this. It lays out the idea very clearly and it has cat pictures. How am I going to compete with this.
Jan 29, 2015 Garrison rated it it was amazing
Thrilling new vocabulary with which to alienate friends and offend family
I mark this book read somewhat disingenuously, since it was so far over my head much of the time I was merely skimming it inattentively. However, there were moments when even I experienced a feeling of awesome revelation

The mark of gender appears to qualify bodies as human bodies; the moment at which an infant becomes humanised is when the question 'is it a boy or a girl?' is answered...

Strategies of exclusion and hierarchy are shown to persist in the formulation of the sex/gender distinction an
Craig Werner
Aug 04, 2012 Craig Werner rated it did not like it
Shelves: womens-lit
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 it was amazing
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.
Dec 12, 2014 Charlie rated it did not like it
Shelves: lgbt-etc, non-fiction
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
Aug 12, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it
'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
Nov 03, 2010 Jamie rated it it was amazing
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 liked it
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
Sep 13, 2011 Sara rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 21, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, 016-sig
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 adequatel ...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
Sep 29, 2014 Siri rated it it was ok
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
Feb 13, 2011 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Maya Zundel
Jun 16, 2016 Maya Zundel rated it really liked it
So many good thoughts. So hard to understand.
Mar 30, 2015 Cary rated it it was amazing
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
Nadosia Grey
Jan 15, 2015 Nadosia Grey rated it really liked it
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
Apr 28, 2009 Kira rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who know their 20th C. French philosophy
Recommended to Kira 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
Jun 25, 2012 Avital rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 29, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it
This was a tough one. While I am not in full agreement with all of Butler's points, I did find it to be, as a whole, a very thorough argument. I recommend having a good idea of feminist theory, history, and terminology before you pick it up. Otherwise, her ideas will go in one ear and out the other. (One eye and out the other?)
Apr 07, 2009 Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
from the 1st paragraph of the preface:
"To make trouble was, within the reigning discourse of my childhood, something one should never do precisely because that would get one IN trouble. The rebellion and its reprimand seemed to be caught up in the same terms, a phenomenon that gave rise to my first critical insight into the subtle ruse of power: The prevailing law threatened one with trouble, even put one in trouble, all to keep one out of trouble. Hence, I concluded that trouble is inevitable a
Sep 13, 2007 Rekha rated it it was amazing
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.
Rate this book? RATE this book? I am supposed to rate this book?
First I have to figure out what "I" means.
OK, so, what happened with my second attempt to read Gender Trouble? I got through it and I understood most of what I read. WHAT? Yes! That really happened.
I understood it because I decided to read it with an eye toward the time when it was written. Since the book came out in 1990, Butler must have written a lot of it in the late 1980s, when I was in college. She was reading French litera
Feb 17, 2015 sologdin rated it did not like it
Shelves: philosophy
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.
Nov 04, 2007 Jen rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 23, 2016 cypt rated it it was amazing
baigiau versti!!!
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2015: The Year of...: Gender Trouble by Judith Butler 2 18 Jan 03, 2015 01:34AM  
  • Epistemology of the Closet
  • This Sex Which Is Not One
  • In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives
  • Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times
  • The Straight Mind: And Other Essays
  • No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive
  • The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life
  • Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality
  • Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics
  • Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature
  • Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity
  • The History of Sexuality 2: The Use of Pleasure
  • Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity
  • Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body
  • The Transgender Studies Reader
  • Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography
  • Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History
  • Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism
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...

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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?” 64 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…