Saturday, July 2, 2011

Judith Butler's programmatic agenda in "Gender Trouble" – rejecting the foundational logic

In "Gender Trouble" Judith Butler discusses the so called "we" of feminism. Butler does not reject the logic of appealing to a common feminine "we" and the acknowledgment of the subject as having agency, but she does point out some problems that are in the way of the politics of identities encountered by the feminist project of establishing a "we". Butler notes that the feminist subject cannot constitute herself (as a subject) without working from within the same system of political discourse from which she wishes to free herself. This system for Butler relies on what she calls "foundational" logic, the logic which presupposes a hierarchic difference between men and women. According the foundational logic, the distinction between men and women precedes discourse and is not language, history or politics dependant. In fact, this type of thinking assumes that there is always an essential conflict between the "I" and the "other", a conflict which precedes discourse and politics and is the initial filed in which the subject operates. Judith Butler holds that by adopting this politics of identity feminism is in fact adopting this hegemonic foundational logic, which establishes and sustains women's otherness.

What Judith Butler is suggesting in "Gender Trouble" is to conduct an all-out deconstruction of the notion of subject, and to expose binary oppositions such as I-other, subject-object, man-woman, heterosexual-homosexual, as repressive construction which gain their meaning through the discourse of identity, and do not precede it.  Butler believes that such a deconstruction of the subject and its sustaining discourse will point to the fact that women's "we" is also no more than a discourse dependant social construction, and is therefore limited, fragmented, imagined and subjected to change and even resistance. Butler's "Gender Trouble" is such an attempt at a radical deconstruction of gender as a fixed category, hoping to bring down in the process all other construction that were erected on the base of the, for Butler, false gender distinction.           

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