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on March 23, 2004
Although many ideas in Gender Trouble are not entirely new or anything (please do read the first 30 pages of Teresa de Lauretis 'Technologies of Gender', which contains in more accessible prose many of the arguments put forward in Gender Trouble), this book seems to have appeared at just the right time; over the last 10 years it has had a major influence on thinking about gender in a wide variety of scholarship, and for this reason alone it is worth reading. Don't be disencouraged by all the stuff on Freud and Lacan in the second chapter, just read on: it's worth the effort. Butler's reading of Kristeva, however, seems somewhat unfair, one-sided if you will; don't be fooled in thinking Kristeva is not worth reading. But in all, Gender Trouble
is a must read for anyone interested in gender/queer theory, feminism, or politics in general!
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on December 11, 1999
Gender Trouble is simply the best available survey and critique of the philosophical work of the leading theorists of French intellectual feminism from Beauvoir on down to Irigaray, Wittig, and Kristeva. Her work owes a significant debt to Michel Foucault's work on discourses of power, a debt which is chiefly acknowledged in the simple fact that everyone except Foucault takes a serious bashing. Beyond the pleasures of intellectual fireworks, the book is politically important for two reasons. First, it shows where many feminist positions fall into the traps of categories which reproduce the conditions they seek to evade; second, she addresses the question of action. Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron warned twenty five years ago that real feminism needs two parts: a theory of women's oppression and a plan of action. Butler, unlike many feminist intellectuals, proposes a plan of action. The book is ideal as a cap to a course of readings in feminist theory. One final note: recent attacks on Judith for her obscure language are unfair and misguided. Would you attack cancer researchers for their obscure language? What about the engineers whose obscure calculations enable us to drive the highways or take an elevator with relative safety? Judith is a specialist who has mastered the language of her field. She is simply the best we have. The book requires patience, but the rewards of thoughtful reading and re-reading are great. Thanks, Ms B.
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on July 9, 2001
I'm no expert but I'm reminded of what a friend once confessed to me: it's hard talking about gender without it turning into a freak show. To her credit, Judith Butler speaks sincerely, with great subtlety, about a very touchy subject. Nevertheless, when you consider that words like "sex," "heterosexual," and "homosexual" are hardly a century old, you have to ask why do they seem so certain, so meaningful, so permanent and timeless? Why is it so hard to consider these words as concealing rather than revealing? In the tradition of Marx and Foucault, Butler begins to demystify their credibility and reveals how gender is something which is 'performative'. By this, she does not mean like a role which is donned (though those who don reveal) but rather as a repetitive, cultural activity from which identity is derived. This work is thought to be the beginning of 'queer theory.'
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on April 10, 2001
after reviewing what other customers thought of gender trouble, i decided that it was time someone spoke in pain english.
butler's feminist text is a brilliant critical examination of gender, a must for any reader interested in feminist or queer theory. the language is difficult, yet richly rewarding...go slow, let your mind explore the many avenues butler leads her reader down. after reading gender trouble, you may like the text, you may dislike it, but there is NO way that you won't learn a great deal and be introduced to a variety of original and provocative thoughts on feminism and gender studies.
there is a reason why butler's gender trouble is widely considered one the revolutionary texts on feminist i encourage you to endure the "difficult" writing and broaden your horizons.
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on June 29, 2003
Though I agree with what others have written of Butler's prose, I think her approach to the ubiquitous "nature versus nurture" question of gender is an important one (politically, socially, culturally, psychologically...) At times her rhetoric is questionable & her ideas somewhat biased (to the point of bordering on... well, less than practical). However, that should not, by any means, dissuade anyone from reading her work. Despite the difficulties it might present, "Gender Trouble" is challenging, thoughtful and thought-provoking-- an enlightening experience for anyone willing to put forth some effort.
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on October 5, 2000
I've found Gender Trouble to be incredibly clear and honest in its argument. Butler provides a thoroughly groundbreaking geneaology of gender representations (if we should call them such), and successfully manages to combine many difficult theories and influences. In response to the previous reviewer, it seems twice as pretentious to disregard this phenomenal work due to so-called lack of clarity and coherence as to accept it for what it is: one of the most thoughtful and important critiques of feminism and gender in this century. Anyway, read it yourself and decide. In my opinion, it's well worth it.
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on March 27, 2001
To the previous reviewers who criticize Butler's work as evidence of postmodernism's failure to communicate to those not of the academy, or to those poor girls who have not yet learned to read, I would submit that you are profoundly missing the point. The strength of Butler's text should not be judged on its ability to "help" people; she is an academic whose work was one of the, if not the, seminal text in the area of postmodern feminist theory. Stop using the Sokal debacle as proof of the inapplicability of Butler's work to people's "real" lives. The drag queens certainly wouldn't appreciate it. Rather, Butler is writing in and responding to, highly complicated texts that have preceded her and that demand a vocabulary which challenges its readers. Either meet the challenge or stop blaming it all on postmodern nomenclature which, though difficult, has offered an important and necessary body of literature to academia. Sokal's article (while indeed funny) made its point that postmodernism can sometimes get carried away with itself. But it also demonstrated the refusal of reactionaries to take seriously the essentialism and shortcomings of structuralist theory. When those poor girls learn how to read (and for all you know Butler could have spent twenty years as a literacy volunteer), I'll be sure to hand them a copy of Gender Trouble before sending them off on their merry way to subvert the dominant paradigm.
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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.
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on March 12, 2003
I read this book when I was taking a class with Judith Butler at Johns Hopkins years ago, and it opened my mind and changed the way I think about the world. Butler's writing is dense, but her ideas are crystalline. She is a brilliant person, and, after taking several of her classes, I consider myself a devoted acolyte.
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on December 31, 2014
Arrived in time to give as a birthday present. Item as advertised. No problems
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