Judith Butler is an American philosopher, teacher and writer, who was born on February 24, 1956, in Cleveland, Ohio, United States.
Judith He was born into a Jewish family, which gave him an education where he had the opportunity to get closer to philosophy and the intellectual world. Which led her to study philosophy at the Yale university, where he graduated in 1978. Later, he obtained his doctorate at the same university in 1984.
After that, he dedicated himself to working and analyzing different problems, especially those related to power, from a post-structuralist perspective. Over the years, he specialized in the themes of feminism and sexuality being considered one of the most influential philosophers in gender studies.
For many, Judith Butler redefined gender theory, through nomadic identities and the queer movement. Currently, she holds the Maxine Elliot Chair of Rhetoric, Comparative Literature and Women’s Studies, at the University of California.
Sex and gender identity
The work of Judith Butler has changed the way of thinking about sex, sexuality, gender and language. And although in 1990, seeing sex as something natural was questioned, Butler began by stating that something similar was happening with gender identity.
In fact, he exposed that in addition to gender, even sex and sexuality were a social construction. He had come to that conclusion based on the theories of Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud and particularly, of Jacques lacan.
With the publication of his book “Gender in Dispute”(1990), their approaches had a lot of visibility because they were seen as something new, breaking with the established. In this book, Judith ensures that the concordance between gender and genitality is a sociocultural construct.
And that like all construction, it can transform or change, which led her to inquire about the formation of the individual’s sexual and gender identity.
Butler then investigated the process through which we become certain subjects, when we assume the sex we have or the gender to which we believe we belong. He discovered that these identities of the individual in relation to sex and gender, on some occasions, are built by other people or by ourselves, due to social pressure.
By the time the book was published, society in general understood sex as an attribute granted by anatomy, that is, there were only two possibilities. But, there was also already a large number of people who understood that sexual and gender identities were a sociocultural interpretation of sex.
Butler raised sex as a sociological and cultural concept, as the effect of a thought generated within a social system that stipulates the norms of gender.
Thus leaving no room to see sex only as something natural and simple within a binary logic that dragged the gender identity to the same channel.
Based on Butler’s approaches, gender is no longer just the interpretation of a sex, which was there before gender, since they are no longer interdependent terms. Rather, gender is a social construction, a series of discourses that govern a normativity within sexuality, whose access is through a social imaginary.
Judith Butler does not say that there is no sex, but that gender is not what the heterosexual matrix that characterizes our societies has led society to believe.
As a result of Butler’s work, the concept of nomadic identities as opposed to fixed identities, which were determined by the sexual anatomy of the individual.
Judith speaks of nomadic identities because she says that the human being is not born being a woman or a man, but that he acquires behaviors of one or the other during his life.
Since heterosexuality was the norm for a long time, the only parameters taken into account were: female and male.
Other possible categories of the human sexual field, and therefore, alternative forms of the development of the individual’s identity, sexual and / or gender, were left aside. And as for Butler, gender is not something natural but acquired, then there is no single way of being male or female.
Since heterosexuality is also a sociocultural construct, used to reproduce and sustain the system in which we live. Therefore, Judith Butler says that it is necessary to overthrow the predominant character of heterosexuality and identify it as the social outcome that it is.
So Butler proposes to denaturalize the concepts of sex and gender, since they are cultural constructions of norms that violate those who do not participate in them.
Your goal is to create scope for an alternative sexual choice. And for this reason, the author carries out a critical analysis of the theoretical foundations of the feminism, put the nomadic identities and proposes a new way of inhabiting the body.
With all these approaches to sex and gender, Judith Butler helped to strengthen what is known as the queer theory.
Queer theory claims that genders, sexual identities, and sexual orientations are not registered in human nature, rather, they result from a social construction, varying in each society.
Therefore, there are no innate sexual choices, biologically inscribed in human nature, but rather socially variable ways of playing one or more sexual roles.
Highlights of Judith Butler
Among the most outstanding works of Judith Butler we have:
You may also be interested in these biographies: