Most helpful critical review
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2001
When will these theory writers learn to make their work more accessible? It toubles me to think that a large portion of Butler's intended audience ("women," although she may cringe at my use of this term) would get lost in her language and ignore the important message of the book. Are white, upper-middle class, educated females the only women who deserve to subvert patriarchy? Judging from the way this book is written stylistically, yes. While I have no problem with Butler's message, I do chastise her for overflowing this book in elevated language and an expectation of education she should not demand out of her readers.
The first three quarters of the book recapitulate the popular theoretical (and only popular if you read theory) underpinnings of Wittig, Freud, De Beauvoir, Feucault, and others. Even having read most of these other theories, I get lost in Butler's language. Further, her recapitulation offers her opportunity to spend too much of the book critiquing the works of others instead of explaining her own theory. This tactic gets old, and it gets old fast. The beauty of this book is not found until the FINAL subchapter of the FINAL chapter, where Butler explains her theory of "performativity." If it were not for this short subchapter, this book would be rubbish, and, quite honestly, I feel cheated by not having the knowledge to skip to the end. I give this important information to you. Please use it. I simply cannot believe this book is considered indispensable in feminist theory. Further, I wish writers like Butler would write for women and not at them.