What does Judith Butler mean by the social construction and performativity of both sex and gender? - Essay Example

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What does Judith Butler mean by the social construction and performativity of both sex and gender?

Social construction designs the way in which interaction takes place. The concept of performativity provides for an understanding that roles of gender and sex are the product of acts that are repeated and ritualized in order to define what is meant by those terms. Even deviances from what are considered norms become socially constructed towards the identifiers of sex and gender. While Butler discusses these concepts under the umbrella of choices made, she clarifies later that what she means is while social construction of both sex and gender are created through the choices made, they are by no means voluntary choices. The compulsion to enact gender or sex through the acts that are considered non-conforming are also enacting gender and sex that has been designed by society. The development of ways in which to name different gender types, such as transgender and transvestitism provide ways in which to legitimize and understand how those enactments of gender and sex are a part of human existence. The following paper critically examines the concepts of social construction and performativity in order to understand what Butler means as she discusses gender and sex in these terms. Through looking at examples of human existence in order to understand her intentions, the foundational elements of her philosophy emerge. ...Show more


Judith Butler is a post-structural philosopher who examined the construction of sex and gender within the post-modern world. The theories that she promoted were founded on the idea of social construction and performativity as they were ascribed to both gender and sex. …
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