Reflections on Judith Butler
I thoroughly enjoyed Butler's talk tonight. It was also my first time in the Goodhart Auditorium, which is gorgeous! I think it will take me a little time to form some more complete thoughts, so for now here are some musings. I think my favorite moment of the evening was when Jane McAuliffe was mediating the questions and requested that speakers "identify themselves." While Butler emphasized that relaxing norms/categories/definitions is not the same as transcending them, it seemed somehow ironic to me that the moment the official lecture ended, we were confronted with the question of identity. During the lecture I also found myself reflecting on my own relationship with gender. Butler discussed the notion that our genders are "proclaimed" for us when we are born and suggested that perhaps this is not the best way to go. This made me wonder how individuals would gender themselves if it stopped being done for them. Clearly we all have a different way of 'being' in our gender - performing our gender per se. I personally feel that a large part of my identity is rooted in my gender - in woman/she/her, but its interesting to look back on the ways I have "performed" that woman-ness over the years -including the short haired, baggy clothes tomboy days of elementary school. While I've never really questioned my woman-ness, I agree with Butler's idea that there is a way in which we all wonder if we are "doing our gender" well enough. I also thought it was interesting how Butler discussed "his or her gender presentation," because even in a lecture related to relaxing the gender binaries, Butler still talked about gender in terms of his/her - which I suppose goes back to her point that embracing the leakiness of these categories is not the same as abandoning them.