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Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity
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Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  8,234 Ratings  ·  392 Reviews
Butler examines the 'trouble' with unproblematized appeals to sex/gender identities. She challenges a variety of psychological assumptions about what it means to be a gender and gives re-readings of Lacan, Freud, and Kristeva. This book should be of interest to advanced students of women's studies, gender studies, cultural studies, philosophy.
Hardcover, 172 pages
Published November 15th 1989 by Other (first published 1989)
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Lisa (ohthenargles) 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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Feb 19, 2015 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 گرانقدر، در موردِ این کتاب باید بگویم که بسیار سخت و پیچیده بیان شده است... برایِ خواندنِ این کتاب، بدونِ تردید باید آگاهی از اصطلاحات سیاسی و ادبیاتِ حزبی و بخصوص اصطلاحات و استدلال هایِ رایجِ آکادمیکیِ <فمینیستی> داشته باشید... به هرحال برایِ فهمِ «فمینیسم» در سطحِ بسیار بالا، این کتاب، میتواند تا حدی مفید باشد
امیدوارم روزی برسد که در سرزمینِ با ارزشمان ایران، همانندِ ایرانیانِ قبل از تجاوز و حملۀ تازیان، ساکنینِ این مرز و بوم برایِ جنسِ با ارزش و لطیفِ «زن» ارزش قائل شوند
بخشی ا
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.
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thrilling new vocabulary with which to alienate friends and offend family
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
Craig Werner
Aug 04, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
David Michael
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, gender, theory
'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
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, sexology
Reassessed: Outworks here mark out the conceptual lineage of the title: “Contemporary feminist debates over the meanings of gender lead time and again to a certain sense of trouble, as if the indeterminacy of gender might eventually culminate in the failure of feminism” (vii). (view spoiler) ...more
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 rated it liked it  ·  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
Sep 13, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Feb 23, 2010 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
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
I have only read this in part so far, tackling those sections which are useful for my thesis research, and leaving the rest for a later date. What I have read thus far is intelligently put across, and well argued.
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Maya Zundel
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many good thoughts. So hard to understand.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What's a woman? What's a woman, what's a what's a what's a woman, w-w-woman, wooooooman.
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
Oct 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism
Non sono riuscita ad andare oltre con questi deliri queer.
Butler è la peggior autrice di cui abbia mai letto: per esporre un concetto (esprimibile con parole semplici in una manciata di pagine) occupa venti pagine di citazioni, domande retoriche a cui non da' mai risposta e mezza riga di pensiero suo, articolato in una sintassi astrusa e inutilmente complicata, che al confronto i filosofi occidentali del '700 scrivono come Stephenie Meyer.
Maria Johansen
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bogen er ikke uden grund blevet en kønsteoretisk klassiker, som på trods af, at den kræver meget af sin læser er hele læsetiden og frustrationen værd. Og det glæder mig, at det nu er muligt kunne læse hendes (stadig) komplekse ord på et sprog, der trods alt er lettere tilgængeligt.

Læs hele anmeldelsen her:
A recensão deste livro sai em breve!
Daniel Cheng
Given all the hype that surrounds it, Gender Trouble ended up being a very underwhelming read. Maybe this book hasn’t aged well because this kind of social constructivist argument at this point is pretty passé and honestly completely pointless, but all I found was a not particularly innovative application of basic concepts from French structuralism/post-structuralism onto sex/gender.

But before addressing the arguments themselves, a preliminary comment on the supposed difficulty of Butler’s prose
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is famous both for its importance and the difficulty of its prose. Butler's idea that gender is fundamentally performative (i.e. it's something you 'do', not something you 'are') is a potent observation that helped clear out a lot of tedious, essentialist thinking.

This was published in the early 1990's, during the apex (or depending on your perspective, the nadir) of what's called critical theory. Butler's prose is unapologetically dense, but this seems like a work that's trying to fundame
Marcos Francisco Muñoz
Es comprensible por qué este libro de Judith Butler demolió muros y abrió caminos en el momento en que fue publicado.
Dentro de sus páginas se destrozan paradigmas (sus disecciones de Lacan son mis partes favoritas del libro) y se concilian ideas (Irigaray, a quien nunca comprendí del todo). Si bien, debido a la edad del libro, algunos argumentos ya pueden considerarse anticuados de un modo un otro, "El género en disputa" es una lectura imprescindible para quien desee adentrarse en el estudio (y
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2015: The Year of...: Gender Trouble by Judith Butler 2 22 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, Volume 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...
“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?” 76 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…