Review of "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution" Article Review

Review of "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution"
A summary and critique of Judith Butler's article "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution."
# 144727 | 839 words | 1 source | MLA | 2009 | US

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This paper provides a summary and critique of Judith Butler's article "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution." In outlining Butler's arguments, the paper makes comparisons to other theorists such as Beauvoir and Turner. The paper also includes a list of key terms with definitions. The paper explains that Butler, unlike past phenomenological theorists, argues that an agent's subjective embodied experience and ontology is an object, rather than subject of present social reality. She asserts that embodiment inherits its meaning through historical lineages of language, gesture, and symbolic socio-cultural signs. The paper concludes by focusing on Butler's belief in the political importance of representing women, but questions how there can be a representation of women without acknowledging the very category of women; thus, it seems impossible to allow any type of gender struggle without some sort of categorization.

Key Terms

From the Paper:

"Yet, historical performances of 'gender' and stylizations of the body are highly regulated through hegemonic societal norms and cultural institutions. Butler draws on feminist cultural anthropology and kinship studies to explain how gender, sex, and heterosexuality have been reinforced through incest taboos and punitive regulation of reproduction. She argues that, " way in which this system of compulsory heterosexuality is reproduced and concealed is through the cultivation of bodies into discrete sexes with 'natural' appearances and 'natural' heterosexual dispositions" (Butler 524). Thus, embodied behavior is enacted through obedience to a 'historically delimited possibility' of gender and 'sex'. Socially imagined 'sexed' bodied employ implicit tactile strategies to 'do' gender in collectively approved ways through consolidated acts in order avoid conscious and unconscious punitive societal consequences . Yet within these claims about identity and gender Butler seems to be implying a universal understanding of 'self' and 'identity', and does not consider cultures without binary gender systems. For instance some cultures understand identity as group based or rooted in objects or nature and many cultures understand gender as fluid and/or not limited to merely 'male' and 'female'."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Butler, Judith. "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution. An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Criticism." Theatre Journal 40.4 (1988): 519-31.

Cite this Article Review:

APA Format

Review of "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution" (2010, September 28) Retrieved February 23, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Review of "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution"" 28 September 2010. Web. 23 February. 2020. <>