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Article Title: Gender is dead, long live gender: just what is ‘performativity’?


Article Summary

This article talks about gender and how it’s related to Performativity.

The author starts with how some descriptions share the common assumption that gender is mutable, not fixed. Performativity according to gender theorist Judith Butler is that gender resides in repeated words and actions, words and actions that both shape and are shaped by the bodies of real, flesh-and-blood human beings.

This theory sets the ‘social’ against the ‘natural’, and implies that gender is merely an artificial layer, encrusted by choice onto the supposedly more fundamental reality of sex. The author then gives example to prove this theory.

Furthermore the author links the theory of Performativity and the art of language thus realising that a performative, then, is as much a repetition or re-creation of what’s expected as it is an act of individual agency. Gender proves to be performative that is, constituting the identity it is purported to be. The basic idea is that gender is created by the very words and actions that appear, superficially, to be simply describing it after the fact.

Gender is not a role that someone simply chooses whether or not to step into, a decision made by a detached, pre-social, conscious mind. Instead, the very identity of the actor is fashioned via the actions themselves and these actions are often unconscious and at least partly coerced. Thus the author concludes that Performativity encourages us not only to see the world differently, but to imagine how we might do it differently.

Article Link: Click here to read the full article


Words to Learn from this article:

Upended: set or turn (something) on its end or upside down

Encrusted: cover or decorate (something) with a hard surface layer

Neologism: a newly coined word or expression

Plaintiffs: a person who brings a case against another in a court of law.

Ontological: showing the relations between the concepts and categories in a subject area or domain.

Circumstance: a fact or condition connected with or relevant to an event or action


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