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A voice for a generation

A voice for a generation

Born in Cleveland, Ohio the American jewish philosopher Judith Butler is considered as one of the most important feminist writers nowadays. She was introduce to philosophy at the age of fourteen. Butler studied Philosophy at Yale, later on receiving a PHD on the subject. Famous for her controversial theories on sex, gender and power. Butler has been an important voice for women and the LGBT community. The first book she wrote was Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in twentieth-Century France, a study on Hegel’s phenomenology of Spirit and its interpretations. Her most significant work is Gender Trouble, in which she exposes the concept of gender as “performative” that means: is evolving all the time by peoples manners and the socially constructed ideas of society. On her book, Butler established the concept that gender is defined by the repeated actions and speeches that an individual performs. She explains the notion of gender in this quote: “Part of the pleasure, the giddiness of the [drag] performance is in the recognition of a radical contingency in the relation between sex and gender.…In the place of the law of heterosexual coherence, we see sex and gender denaturalized by means of a performance which avows their distinctness and dramatizes the cultural mechanism of their fabricated unity”. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018) Butler also wrote the book Undoing Gender; is a crucial point on her career because of the topics that engage transexual, intersex and transgender topics. This book also represents an important outlook over women and LGBT rights in the XXI century.

Before Butler, the topic of gender as something subversive was only referred freely in pop culture and Hollywood. From Caitlin Jenner to Laverne Cox, gender was basically treated vaguely on social media. As the theme of gender became more popular overtime, academic support from philosophers like Butler had a greater impact in todays world. In the USA, the debate over the bathroom policies for transgender people, have open a new discussion on the topic of human rights.

In a world were Facebook and Tumblr are the main sources of information for the youth. Phd philosopher Judith Butler, has many of her works posted through social media by other individuals: turning her old school writing more mainstream.

Back in 2015, Butler gave an important statement over the issue of violence towards transgender women of color. “Trans women have relinquished masculinity, showing that it can be, and that is, very threatening to a man who wants to see his power as an intrinsic feature of who he is” these were the words Judith Butler used while explaining the nature of men killing transgender women in an interview. (Tourjée, 2018)

Butlers impact is seen not only through social media, but also in latin American countries like Brazil: where far-right groups were protesting against her philosophy. A few years ago, Butler was invited to Brazil to give a lecture on gender and politics. Her influence in the country was primal because both groups of far-right and left felt her presence in the country.  Far-right groups imply that the conservative concept of family would be in jeopardy by her writings. They even try to collect signatures for stoping her lecture.

Several icons in pop culture have been influence by the writing of Butler. From TV show like Scandal to Transparent, they have shown how gender is becoming a central topic in todays world. Like Laverne Cox Said “It was that phrase, that one is not born but rather becomes a woman, that made it possible for me to think that I could become trans”. (Fischer, 2018) Butler ideas are the evolution of several feminist writers in the past.

Jaime Utreras

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