Gender is not something that one is, it is something one does, an act… a doing rather than a being.

— Judith Butler

The most interesting Judith Butler quotes that are glad to read

Masculine and feminine roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed.


... that gender is a choice, or that gender is a role, or that gender is a construction that one puts on, as one puts on clothes in the morning, that there is a 'one' who is prior to this gender, a one who goes to the wardrobe of gender and decides with deliberation which gender it will be today.


There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender.

.. identity is performatively constituted by the very 'expressions' that are said to be its results.


To operate within the matrix of power is not the same as to replicate uncritically relations of domination.


Gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original;

in fact, it is a kind of imitation that produces the very notion of the original as an effect and consequence of the imitation itself.


Parody by itself is not subversive, and there must be a way to understand what makes certain kinds of parodic repetitions effectively disruptive, truly troubling, and which repetitions become domesticated and recirculated as instruments of cultural hegemony


I do think it's important that we experiment with new vocabularies.

That new words help us conceptualize our social existence in a different way.


Let's face it. We're undone by each other. And if we're not, we're missing something. If this seems so clearly the case with grief, it is only because it was already the case with desire. One does not always stay intact.


I think we won't be able to understand the operations of trans-phobia, homophobia, if we don't understand how certain kinds of links are forged between gender and sexuality in the minds of those who want masculinity to be absolutely separate from femininity and heterosexuality to be absolutely separate from homosexuality.


Sexual harassment law is very important.

But I think it would be a mistake if the sexual harassment law movement is the only way in which feminism is known in the media.


In the first instance, performativity must be understood not as a singular or deliberate ‘act,’ but, rather, as the reiterative and citational practice by which discourse produces the effects that it names


You're an evolving and transforming person, right? And how do we capture that dynamics of sexuality in that complex sense? There may be times when someone feels oneself more overly masculine or maybe more feminine, or where the terms themselves become confused, where passivity and activity also don't maintain their usual meaning.


About Judith Butler

Quotes 170 sayings
Nationality American
Profession Philosopher
Birthday October 16

I think there is a demand. The demand is for a radical economic and political restructuring of the world. And most people would say that's impossible. And it may or may not be achieved, but I think that's less important than articulating what a just and fair world can be.


Peace is a certain resistance to the terrible satisfactions of war.

It’s a commitment to living with a certain kind of vulnerability to others and susceptibility to being wounded that actually gives our individual lives meaning.


When we say gender is performed, we usually mean that weve taken on a role or were acting in some way and that our acting or our role playing is crucial to the gender that we are and the gender that we present to the world.


Indeed it may be only by risking the incoherence of identity that connection is possible.


Gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts.


Photography has a relation to intervention, but photographing is not the same as an intervening.


Let's face it. We're undone by each other. And if we're not, we're missing something.


Whether or not we continue to enforce a universal conception of human rights at moments of outrage and incomprehension, precisely when we think that others have taken themselves out of the human community as we know it, is a test of our very humanity.


If we are trying to account for mobilization, we have to ask, under what conditions do outraged forms of knowing lead to social mobilizations and movements? So awareness alone does not suffice, and neither does outrage.


I think we have to accept a wide variety of positions on gender.

Some want to be gender-free, but others want to be free really to be a gender that is crucial to who they are.


Where is democratic process or popular sovereignty for the endangered population? It cannot be "given" or "allocated" by some other power without that same power claiming the right to withdraw what it gives.


I think we need a politics that allows us to risk what is intelligible.

To be maybe slightly unintelligible, too be slightly "illisible". To take the risk of suggesting that the human form might take another form.


If gender is eradicated, so too is an important domain of pleasure for many people. And others have a strong sense of self bound up with their genders, so to get rid of gender would be to shatter their self-hood.


I think maybe it's more important to know the traditional concepts we have for thinking about how bodies are feminine or masculine or how sexuality is, straight or gay. These categories very often fail to describe the complexity of who we are.


Everyone has a set of presuppositions: what gender is, what it's not.

And they may not write them out or they may not be in theoretical books published by Routledge, but they have a theory.


There is no original or primary gender a drag imitates, but gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original.


It seems to me that responsiveness is a better source for understanding what moral claims are and how they work upon us.


I must say, I feel the reception of my work is none of my business.


It is true that non-governmental organisations working within strong human rights frameworks are now confounded by securitarian forms of logic and power that extend the paternalistic bias of their work in new ways.


Perhaps we have to remember that there are forms of outrage that do not lead to any sort of mobilization, and there are ways of "registering the facts" that do not lead to outrage.


Peace is a certain resistance to the terrible satisfactions of war.


What we need are poems that interrogate the world of pronouns, open up possibilities of language and life; forms of politics that support and encourage self-affirmation.


I was off to Yale to be a lesbian


Neoliberalism has taken new forms since the demise of the Fordist concept of labor and with the emergence of what is understood as flexible labor. This has really come to be the dominant form for about the last 20 years.


Popular sovereignty has to be given by a people to itself, and this is the important meaning of self-determination.


I think something happens only when people find that they are moved with others, find themselves linked or allied in new ways, showing up or speaking out in ways that resonate with one another. That resonating can be very compelling and lead to moving and speaking more emphatically and with sharper focus.


There was a brief moment after 9/11 when Colin Powell said we "should not rush to satisfy the desire for revenge." It was a great moment, an extraordinary moment, because what he was actually asking people to do was to stay with a sense of grief, mournfulness, and vulnerability.


The violence of language consists in its effort to capture the ineffable and, hence, to destroy it, to seize hold of that which must remain elusive for language to operate as a living thing.


We have to have a very strong criticism of modes of cooperation that entrench inequality.


What is most important is to cease legislating for all lives what is liveable only for some, and similarly, to refrain from proscribing for all lives what is unlivable for some.


So there might be a kind of collective effort that allows for those risks to be taken, pose a certain danger but not a suicidal one.


We need a legal and political understanding of the right of the refugee, whereby no solution for one group produces a new class of refugees - you can't solve a refugee problem by producing a new, potentially greater refugee problem.


Although the history of dispossession and exile for Jews is very different from the history of dispossession and exile for Palestinians, they both have recent and searing experiences which might allow them to come to a common understanding on the rights of refugees, or what it might mean to live together with resonant histories of that kind.


People who have been made stateless by military occupation are entitled to repatriation, and then the question is to which state, or to what polity or area? Those who have had their goods taken away are entitled to compensation of some kind. These are basic international laws.


Race and class are rendered distinct analytically only to produce the realization that the analysis of the one cannot proceed without the other. A different dynamic it seems to me is at work in the critique of new sexuality studies.


Every taxi driver I have ever spoken to has a theory of gender.


I have also been invited to talk to psychologists and psychoanalysts and I liked that very much. Because, they are the ones who are bringing a lot of very, you know, problematic ideas about sexuality and gender into psychiatric and psychological settings. And I like having some influence there.