close
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

The Concept of Gender Performativity and Its Role

downloadDownload printPrint

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.

Any subject. Any type of essay. We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

121 writers online

The Concept of Gender Performativity and Its Role essay
Download PDF

Understanding Gender performativity

In the 1950s, J.L Austin, the British philosopher explored and explained his perspective of ‘performative language’. He is the first person who divided language into two types: constative and performative. (Butler, 2004) John Searle’s theory of ‘speech act’, the phenomenological theory of ‘acts’ and Simone de Beauvoir’s notion on “one is not born a woman, but rather becomes one” (de Beauvoir, 1978) influenced Judith Butler to propose her ‘gender performativity’. In this theory, she argues that gender is not an identity, which means gender is not someone’s personal characteristics and behaviors. Instead it is socially constructed and it is an act that constituted by every expression. Just like speech act is performative, therefore, gender is performative. (Chinn, 1997) Moreover, if gender is an identity, the notion that ‘a single or abiding ground, which is invariably contested by those identity positions or anti-identity positions that it invariably excludes’ needs to be agreed.(Chinn, 1997) ‘Gender Performativity’ can be seen as one of the most important theories in feminism. Firstly, this essay will explain the statement of ‘gender is a form of performativity’ and some key points of understanding this concept using real life and literary example. In order to understand sex, gender and sexuality, the most important implications of this theory will be discussed as well.

In the society, people perform different acts of their genders in order to keep their identities. Since gender is socially constructed, and people are imperceptibly influenced to act their gender identities in the way they understand and believe how their gender identities should be presented. For example, people are told to act like a boy or a girl since they were born. (Chinn, 1997) This act need to be performed repeatedly. So when gender is performative, it produces effects to the public guiding them to consolidate certain impression and performance of each gender identity. If the gender performance isn’t a repetition, the identity of it will change which means it is not stable or coherent. (Butler, 2004)

Therefore a key point of Butler’s concept is that gender is constructed through people’s own repetition of gender performance. It is a ‘stylized repetition of acts’ and imitation. She states that gender is ‘internally discontinuous’ and ‘real only to the extent that it is performed’. (Butler, 2004) In the film ‘Farewell My Concubine’, a film about gender performance and identity. It talks about a male Chinese opera performer falls in love with his lifelong male friend who is also a performer because of his gender identity is trained to be a female in order to act a female role in the opera. He is asked to act and imitate female when he was very young and he performs the female role for all his lifetime. His gender identity is constructed through the performance of imitating the dominant convention of female. So that is why he falls in love with the other performer who acts ‘her’ husband in the opera. (Lau, 1995) Back to the theory Butler argues ‘Gender is an impersonation’ and ‘the act that one does, the act that one performs is, in a sense, an act that’s been going on before one arrived on the scene’ can be understood. (Butler, 2004) However, Butler states the difference between gender performativity and the performance in the drama/theatre because there is clear difference of reality and in the theatre. The reason why the performer in ‘Farewell My Concubine’ cannot distinguish is because opera is his whole life, the performance/training starts as long as he can remember.

Moreover, another central point of Butler’s theory is that gender is either not optional or natural. Butler’s theory was influenced a lot by Foucault’s genealogy, so when she explore her gender question starts from the very beginning of human life. So she claims that people are interpellated into different gender identities when people are born and ‘There is no gender identity behind the expression of gender, the identity is performativity constituted by every expression that said to be its results’ (Chinn, 1997) Using the same example from the film ‘Farewell My Concubine’. The male performer was told and rebuked again and again by his teacher to ‘be a girl and act like a girl’. Since the performer is very little, he soon feels free and natural to believe he should act as a girl. (Lau, 1995) Another example always being use to explain this concept is the saying of ‘It’s a girl/boy.’. This is a compulsion for child to perform that nobody realizes. So the performance signifies and constructed a ‘gendered self’. (Chinn, 1997)

For my understanding, the most important implications of understanding of this theory is that the mainstream comprehension of sexual difference and sexual stereotypes have opportunity to gradually disappear. In patriarchal society, the relation of sex and gender is determined by the sex that male is in the dominant position and female is subordination. (Sultana, 2012) Since every gender is a performativity, there is nothing constant. It is just a process of repeating the performance/imitation and consolidate the gender identity or certain act. There are a lot of cross gender performance or performing as the opposite sex in the mainstream media platforms. So if public have wider vision of the gender difference that is disappearing in more cases, the mechanism and mainstream thoughts created by male may be threatened and facilitated.

In conclusion, Butler’s theory of gender performativity has great contribution to gender theory and cultural studies. Because she crosses the theory of performativity and gender. Even though Butler did not purpose this theory, gender is still performing in different ways. From ancient time to nowadays, what people wear, how people act and the rule are always changing.

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

experts 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help you just now

delivery Starting from 3 hours delivery

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

The Concept of Gender Performativity and its Role. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-concept-of-gender-performativity-and-its-role/
“The Concept of Gender Performativity and its Role.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-concept-of-gender-performativity-and-its-role/
The Concept of Gender Performativity and its Role. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-concept-of-gender-performativity-and-its-role/> [Accessed 1 Dec. 2021].
The Concept of Gender Performativity and its Role [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2021 Dec 1]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-concept-of-gender-performativity-and-its-role/
copy to clipboard
close

Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. If you’d like this or any other sample, we’ll happily email it to you.

    By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

    close

    Attention! This essay is not unique. You can get a 100% Plagiarism-FREE one in 30 sec

    Receive a 100% plagiarism-free essay on your email just for $4.99
    get unique paper
    *Public papers are open and may contain not unique content
    download public sample
    close

    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.

    close

    Thanks!

    Please check your inbox.

    Want us to write one just for you? We can custom edit this essay into an original, 100% plagiarism free essay.

    thanks-icon Order now
    boy

    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Having trouble finding the perfect essay? We’ve got you covered. Hire a writer
    exit-popup-close

    Haven't found the right essay?

    Get an expert to write you the one you need!

    exit-popup-print

    Professional writers and researchers

    exit-popup-quotes

    Sources and citation are provided

    exit-popup-clock

    3 hour delivery

    exit-popup-persone