Performative Acts and Gender Constitution

I think that the central idea of the article “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory” by Judith Butler is statement that “gender identity is a performative accomplishment compelled by social sanction and taboo”. (Butler, 1998) In such a way the author is willing to show that series of acts constitute gender identity and it is individual who actualize these actions by repetition. It is necessary to agree with the author that gender can’t be defined a concrete social function as gender is constantly shifting and reproducing. Gender is performative rather than expressive.

If gender is viewed as expressive, it means that the body has to create gender internally by referring to ‘I’. In other words, the body would have to represent gender externally as possibility. In my opinion, gender constitution and expression is essential part of our bodies to identify ourselves. Gender represents us as individuals in the world, but it doesn’t mean that it should play crucial role in human abilities and opportunities to represent out inner world. The author’s feminist theory about gender constitution raised numerous debates and discussions in feminist circles.

(Butler, 1998) I think that Butler’s theory is liberating, though it shouldn’t become the base in professional and personal life. Butler’s ideas, frameworks and concepts contribute feminist studies as she has managed to allow gender to move from the dead point. Gender is given the way to be explained from female’s viewpoint beyond patriarchal ideas. Gender is not simply a set of characteristics, duties and responsibilities. Actually, we used to think that gender is something we can rely on and without concrete definition it will be lost. Gender is always shifting and moving as the body is performing new acts.

I agree with Butler gender isn’t a constant flux, not a given or set of cultural meanings imposed on our bodies. Gender identity should be observed in terms of acts and relations. After reading the article two questions interest me the most: How does feminist description differs from patriarchal ideas? Why a woman is defined as ‘historical situation’ by Beauvoir? (Butler, 1998)

References Butler, Judith. (1998). Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory. Retirieved April 1, 2008, from http://www. mariabuszek. com/kcai/PoMoSeminar/Readings/BtlrPerfActs. pdf