The Summary of Gender is Burning
In Judith Butler’s article, Gender is burning, she argues a main point that everyone is born with a clean slate and that over time, you form your own identity. For this article she uses gender as a choice of identity. Her purpose was to explain that gender is something you can chose as part of your identity. She disagrees that gender is something that you are “just born with”. She explains that many people also believe in this argument and chose their gender as part of their identity rather than just living their life as the gender they were born.
One of the arguments she claims within her article is that gender is not the reason for discrimination of “sexism”. To help with her argument, Judith mentions the movie “Paris is Burning”, directed and produced by Jennie Livingston (1991). This film, as described in the article, explains how some transgender and homosexual males are called names such as “queer” because they chose to be different and express their identity as a female. In this film, the transgender and homosexual males cross dress and participate in drag performances but it is not excepted by society. Butler argues that due to society not accepting differences, such as when non-heterosexual genders act outside of the “norm”, opinions are expressed in a negative manner, example: using the word “queer” as an offensive description word, which leads to the discrimination of “sexism”.
Another argument she mentions is that imitating another gender, other than what you were born with, is considered to be offensive to members of society. Heterosexual genders believe that representing and acting upon the gender you were born with is considered the norm and original. Butler explains that the “original” and norm “choice” also lacks originality and naturalness in many ways. Referring to homophobic movies such as “Paris is Burning” seems to be realistic because woman, for example, feel that “imitating” the female gender is “ridicule and degrading” and find it very offensive. Butler explains in her article how she believes that “imitating” another gender is not meant to be taken offensively but as a form of a personal identity choice.
Butler includes in her article that some members of society believe the transition from one gender to another or being sexually attracted to the same gender is from bad experiences that the person has been through. Experiences that members of society believe leads to lesbianism or being gay is the possibility of a rejection of a perusing relationship, from a past relationship that created a feeling of disappointment, or even the possibility of hating someone who they originally desired. This logic bases lesbianism and being gay on heterosexual love. Society more or less tries to define the choice of sexuality based on a heterosexual experience rather than people just choosing the gender they want to be to create and form their identity.
Gender is Burning was an article published from the book Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” by Judith Butler in 1993 to argue that gender is a part of your identity that you can control. Judith Butler is an American continental philosopher and gender theorist. In her career, her main focus is based on gender equality. Butler is well known for speaking on political issues and supporting lesbian and gay right movements and expressing gender equality through her writing. Currently she is the co-director of the Program of Critical Theory and a professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature.
The Summary of Gender is Burning