Skip to content

Essay On Gender Performativity

Theatre Journal

Description: For over five decades, Theatre Journal's broad array of scholarly articles and reviews has earned it an international reputation as one of the most authoritative and useful publications of theatre studies available today. Drawing contributions from noted practitioners and scholars, Theatre Journal features social and historical studies, production reviews, and theoretical inquiries that analyze dramatic texts and production. Recent special issues include "Re-Thinking the Real," "Ancient Theatre," "Dance," and "Theatre and Activism." Theatre Journal is published in cooperation with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).

Coverage: 1979-2012 (Vol. 31, No. 1 - Vol. 64, No. 4)

Moving Wall: 5 years (What is the moving wall?)

The "moving wall" represents the time period between the last issue available in JSTOR and the most recently published issue of a journal. Moving walls are generally represented in years. In rare instances, a publisher has elected to have a "zero" moving wall, so their current issues are available in JSTOR shortly after publication.
Note: In calculating the moving wall, the current year is not counted.
For example, if the current year is 2008 and a journal has a 5 year moving wall, articles from the year 2002 are available.

Terms Related to the Moving Wall
Fixed walls: Journals with no new volumes being added to the archive.
Absorbed: Journals that are combined with another title.
Complete: Journals that are no longer published or that have been combined with another title.

ISSN: 01922882

EISSN: 1086332X

Subjects: Performing Arts, Arts

Collections: Arts & Sciences III Collection, JSTOR Essential Collection

Gender Performativity Essay

Nina Flyvbjerg 14-04-2014

Student number: 672054 Thinking Sex

Gender Performativity

Butler argues that gender should be seen not as an identity but instead as a form of 'performativity'. What does she mean? Explain the key points of Butler's concept of performativity, and discuss what you see as the most important implications of this theory for understanding sex, gender and sexuality.

This essay will demonstrate the way in which Judith Butler argues that gender should be seen as a form of performativity constituted through the individual's acts. Furthermore this essay will discuss the heterosexual matrix and argue that the idea of performativity makes it possible to challenge the heterosexual matrix.

Gender as a form of performativity

In Judith Butler's work on queer theory she differs between sex and gender. Butler's term sex refers to the biological differences between men and women but shouldn't be understood as something natural and unchangeable but understood and located within a set of historical and cultural discourses. The idea about the complete natural sex is therefore impossible (Lloyd, 2007:38). Gender refers to the socially and culturally constructed gender that is changeable depending on the context it is played out in (Butler, 1990:6). Butler does not see sex as being determinative of gender since gender can be constructed in many different ways and be described as liquid and changeable (Butler 1990:6). Gender does not denote a substansive being, but a relative point of convergence among culturally and historically specific sets of relations (Butler 1990:10).

According to Butler gender should be seen as a form of performativity, meaning that gender is something that is done unconsciously through acts. Gender is performative because it only exists in the act which constitutes gender (Lloyd, 2007:48). Gender is not attached to the body and its anatomy, instead gender is a series of repetitive acts, gestures and language: Gender ought not to be construed as a stable identity or locus of agency from which various acts follow; rather, gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts (Butler 1990:179). According to Butler it is impossible to be a gender, gender is doing without being and gender is therefore performative. In doing gender there is no subject prior to the act. The subject doesn't exist in itself but becomes in the doing of the act. It is irrelevant what sex the acting is and with the idea about gender as a form of...

Loading: Checking Spelling


Read more

Different Representations of Gender Within the Same Genres of Music

1580 words - 6 pages In 1991 Butler mentioned that “There is no original or primary gender a drag imitates, but gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original”. It could be suggested that within many genres of music there are different representations of gender. For example if one considers the artist Marilyn Manson. This artist has been known to dress in a controversial manner that deviates from the norms and values regarding gender within society,...

Comparison of One is Not Born a Woman by Wittig and The Second Sex Simone De Beauvoir

984 words - 4 pages The construction of gender is based on the division of humanity to man and woman. This is impossible ontologically speaking; because the humans are not divided, thus gender is merely an imaginary realm. It only exist in the language exercises, and the way that cultural products are conceived in them. This essay is a preliminary attempt to offer an analysis of ‘One Is Not Born a Woman’ by Wittig and ‘The Second Sex’ by Simone De Beauvoir holds on...

Judith Butler’s Trouble in Gender

2195 words - 9 pages My mother gave me my name in hope that the dreamy embers I began with would ignite into a roaring fire. A powerful fire that she could stand back and admire; a fire she helped build and that she hoped would never falter. She wished for me to be an individual and hoped that I would explore every avenue that might give me that spark we all so desperately seek to fulfill our lives. However, society has given me boundaries. They have passed down...

The Black Swan

1943 words - 8 pages Introduction Post-modernist critique points to the destabilization and fragmentation of the idea of the coherent, unique subjectivity that has led western culture, and subsequently its critique, through time. Cultural objects seem to correspond with the processes of naturalization of gender divisions and the female body. On a literal level, Black Swan gives the impression that it follows this tradition. In this paper I argue that the use of...

Judith Butler b .1956

620 words - 2 pages Who is Judith Butler?Judith Butler (1956-) is Professor of Comparative Literature and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, and is well known as a theorist of power, gender, sexuality and identity. Indeed, she is described in alt.Culture as "one of...

Gender Neutrality

3592 words - 14 pages To what extent does the term 'gender-neutral' (and those who identify as such) pose problems for the current gender discourse, religious ideas of gender and religiosity?It is in the opinion of this essay that modernist queer theory and the current gender discourse exists within a self-contained irony. This irony is produced primarily when scholars who aim to criticise concepts such as established social norms and binaries indirectly...

The Biggest Act

1723 words - 7 pages Who we are and what we have become seem to be synonymous; who I am as a female and a woman tend to be one in the same. But what if one were to be female but a man? That doesn't seem to make any sense at all; for how could a female be in any way related to that of a man? These two words: female (or male) vs. woman (or man), are not realistically identical. The terms (female or male) indicates sex; whereas, the other terms signify the gender. The...

Gender and Performance in the Earl of Rochester’s Imperfect Enjoyment

1547 words - 6 pages Literature of the English Restoration offers the example of a number of writers who wrote for a courtly audience: literary production, particularly in learned imitation of classical models, was part of the court culture of King Charles II. The fact of a shared model explains the remarkable similarities between “The Imperfect Enjoyment” by the Earl of Rochester and “The Disappointment” by Aphra Behn—remarkable only because readers are surprised...

Discuss the ways in which gender and race intersect with each other. Make reference to the film "Falling Down."

2595 words - 10 pages This essay argues that the concepts of femininity and masculinity are culturally and racially specific and can not be read as universal. The notion that there are commonly held ideas about what constitutes being a 'woman' across cultures and races will be rebuffed in this essay using the arguments put forth by Ien Ang. Ang's article, 'I'm a feminist but ... 'Other' women and postnational feminism' puts forth the arguments that mainstream...

Portrayals of Patriarchy in Literature, Especially Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

1589 words - 6 pages ““It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” -Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice, Volume I, Chapter I Literature can be seen as a reflection of social evolution. It is in the literary works that we find live accounts of the progressive appearance of individuality in history. It portrays the growth of social equality and ideas on ruling ideologies through the author’s...

The Global Feminist and the Transnational Feminist

1217 words - 5 pages Academic discourse is the means by which new and old theories may be applied to a topic in order to reach a better understanding or challenge a notion raised within the field. It is through discussing and analyzing these concepts that individual voices may be applied to an academic community, allowing for a wider lens of thought to be picked up and further discussed. Grewal participates in this discourse in her article “'Women's Rights as Human...