« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

November 20, 2008

Judith Butler

"If one "is" a woman, that is surely not all one is; the term fails to be exhaustive, not because a pregendered "person" transcends the specific paraphernalia of its gender, but because gender is not always constituted coherently or consistently in different historical contexts, and because gender intersects with racial, class, ethnic, sexual, and regional modalities of discursively constituted identities"
-Judith Butler (p. 354)

Butler is referring to a "woman" as a social construct, implying its fluidity and its formation as a "gender" one can possess, along with being an identity one can claim. She refers to "women" as a gender, not a biological sex. Since gender seems to lack any coherent history, as far as it being consistently considered a socially constructed "gender"/identity. One is never just a woman, as one is never just an African American or a Muslim. Gender is constantly reconstructed through it's multiple intersectionalities; and since it is socially constructed it is also always changing dependent upon the social location and historical position. As another professor prefers to say, "everyone has a buffet of identities".

I think it is very interesting how people can claim different identities, as they can also be placed within certain social categories depending upon their social location or positionality. The way we view the world is dependent upon our social location within it, and is shaped by our multiple identities. The way we are allowed to move within the world determines the way we see ourself within it. I see the world as a white, heterosexual, female, located within a first world context. This world view shapes my basis for making sense of the world around me.

If only it was this obvious to us, though.

November 15, 2008

Butler

"If taken as the grounds of feminist theory or politics, these "effects" of gender hierarchy and compulsory heterosexuality are not only misdescribed as foundations, but the signifying practices that enable this metaleptic misdescription remain outside the purview of a feminist critique of gender relations."


In this sentence, Judith Butler is saying that since gender is socially, and even the idea of two different biological sexes are socially constructed, feminism (when founded on the acceptance of women as a category that does not need to be critiqued or questioned) is founded on a false construction. More importantly, the false construction of these categories of "men" and "women" might be the root of all of the hierarchies and power disparities that feminism is supposed to critique! As she says later "this foundationalism...presumes, fixes, and constrains the very "subjects" that it hopes to represent and liberate." Between those two phrases, she means to say that accepting the gender binary and the predicursive existence of "women" is not grounds for a very helpful or constructive "feminism."

Butler

"In effect, the law produces and then conceals the notion of a "subject before the law" in order to invoke that discursive formation as a naturalized foundational premise that subsequently legitimates that law's own regulatory hegemony."

This sentence refers to the problem Butler identifies with categorizing gender. By identifying 'woman', it creates the assumption that what is named by this word is different, that a binary exists, and therefore the axes of power constrain and impact everything having to do with womanhood, women and femaleness. This is further solidified throughout the text, as exemplified by other quotes chosen by classmates - Butler believes that our lives are systemized through law, that law is the process by which these distinctions are created, and then naturalizes them by legislating this order. Butler is, quite literally, challenging feminists to think outside of the box that is created by the political system that works to legislate and define our lives.

good old judith

The sentence: "If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps this construct called 'sex' is a as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it was always already gender, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all." (357)

I believe the question the comes to my mind right away is, "what came first the egg or the chicken?" or did nothing come before the other. My logical brain fights the latter assumption but the more and more I read, study and discuss gender/sex differences become blurry. Butler is trying to make the point that gender is itself sex... no matter it the body has a penis or vagina or breast.... that doesn't determine how people read your body--how they 'sex' you. What people read is gender... how one acts, behaves, lives, belongs to the world and through that reading ascribes a sex to the body. I can see this argument. I mean we walk around all day in our cloths, no can really see our genitalia--we assume we know by the way the person is in the world. Butler usually leaves my mind in an exploded state or hurting or turned off. Not many writers have that effect on me.... I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. There needs to be years of Butler conversation circles for me to even begin to wrap my mind around what she is writing.... maybe that will happen!

Butler

When the constructed status of gender is theorized as radically independent of sex, gender itself becomes a free-floating artiface, with the consequence that man and masculine might just as easily signify a female body as a male one... (356)
What Butler argues is that splitting gender and sex presents certain problems. thinking of gender and sex as separate entities leaves the words feminine and masculine almost impossible to define or label. Both terms need to be analyzed, meaning that sex could just as easily be socially constructed as gender. As soon as a child is born the first question is always was it boy or girl, immediately even the sex of the baby is socially constructed by the doctors and the parents.

"Assuming for the moment the stability of binary sex, it does not follow that the construction of 'men' will accrue exclusively to the bodies of males or that 'women' will interpret only female bodies" (356).


This sentence by Judith Butler argues what many feminists have been saying for years, gender is socially constructed. Since gender is socially constructed this means that one is not born inherently with the "male" or "female" gender. Instead, gender is taught, created, and enforced by the society in which one lives. For example, boys are not inherently born to like playing with cars and girls are not inherently born to like playing iwth barbie dolls, this is taught. There are very specific traits that boys and girls are taught they must possess to fit into the gender categories of "boys" and "girls". Since gender is taught by one's culture and not inherent in either sex, it is very possible that one born into the sex of a male may most identify with the gender of a girl and vice-versa. The gender of a woman is not exclusive to females because it is socially created and not biological.

Judith Butler

The first sentence I chose was on page 357.
"Gender ought not to be conceived merely as the cultural inscription of meaning on a pregiven sex (a juridical conception); gender must also designate the very apparatus of production whereby the sexes themselves are established."

Someone else has already posted this sentence, but I thought I would post my interpretation since I already analyzed it. With this sentence, I think that Bulter was saying that gender should not be determined by the connection that our culture makes with the gender and sex binary. Gender is not determined by a sex that is given based on genitalia. Gender can also influence and determine sex.

I chose another sentence from page 357 to analyze that I have not yet seen.
"At this juncture it is already clear that one way the internal stability and binary frame for sex is effectively secured is by casting the duality of sex in a prediscursive domain."

In this sentence I think that Butler is saying that our culture casts the binary system of sex and gender (female/male, woman/man) onto a previously unstructured place. For example, we use genitalia to decide if it's a boy or a girl before we even know anything about who that child is as a person. The baby is the prediscursive domain that the boy/girl frame for sex is put on.

The Critical Task

"The critical task for feminism is not to establish a point of view outside of constructed identities; that conceit is the construction of an epistemological model that would disavow its own cultural location and, hence, promote itself as a global subject, a position that deploys precisely the imperialist strategies that feminists ought to criticize." Pg. 360

Judith Butler is explaining that feminism should not view women as a subject that exists outside the cultural/political/sexual context in which they exist. The failure of this construction is that "woman" cannot be constructed outside this cultural/political/sexual context because we must ultimately ask the question: What is a "woman"? Is this "woman" defined by having a vagina? What about people who were not born with said vagina who identify as women? Is it a question of hormonal balance or chromosomes? How do people with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome fit into this equation? Would a definition that is reliant upon social expression work? How would that explain social expressions that change across cultures and even within cultures? The problem with constructing this identity is that there must then be an other that does not fit into this epistemological model. Then by taking this model, we would then attempt to force our model of "woman" on people that don't precisely fit into it. We would be deciding what's best for a particular person without their input. That is precisely imperialism.

November 14, 2008

Judith Butler

“If gender is the cultural meanings that the sexed body assumes, then a gender cannot be said to follow from a sex in any one way.� (TF 356)

I believe Judith Butler is trying to say that gender is a completely different and independent from sex. Sex is its own independent entity. If “men� follow only the bodies of males and “women� only follow the bodies of females, than their gender has nothing to do with their sex. She says that will cultural influences, one can not truly know their gender just by sex alone.

She is one loaded lady!

"The Question of 'the subject' is crucial for politics, and for feminist politics in particular, because juridical subjects are invariably produced through certain exclusionary practices that do not 'show' once the juridical structure of politics has been established"

In this context, Butler is discussing and problematizing this issue of the category of "women" being the subject of feminism. She is saying that this issue of the subject is important to understand because the subject is created by a power structure, in this case juridical. Not only are the subjects produced but they are not declared as such and are therefore normalized by the system. This is problematic for feminism because feminism as it was conceived is an attempt to offer a counter discourse to the current power structures. But we can see clearly that feminism is operating under the same discourse that it is trying to "counter".

This is what I took to be her argument!

Judith Butler

"The critical task for feminism is not to establish a point of view outside of constructed identities; that conceit is the construction of an epistemological model that would disavow its own cultural location and, hence, promote itself as a global subject, a position that deploys precisely the imperialist strategies that feminism ought to criticize."

Butler is saying that construction of identity does not deny one agency. She is saying that feminism ought to seek ways to work within the constructions that illuminate the inconsistencies of the constructions. To attempt to act outside of the constructions of identity is to act without a cultural identity, presumably as a universal subject. To portend a global point of view one must exclude certain people, essentially pushing them into another margin. This exclusions are what Butler would argue are "precisely the imperialist strategies" that should be avoided.

Judith Butler

The very subject of women is no longer understood in stable or abiding terms.

Butler argues that the constitutions of gender are not constructed in isolation and there is no pure or completely autonomous woman. The binary normalizations of identity are no longer sufficient to understand the intersectionality of feminist projects. Butler also explains that it is necessary to shift from women studies to gender studies for an objective identification and evaluation of social constructions.

Judith Butler

"The masculine/feminine binary constitutes not only the exclusive framework in which that specificity can be recognized, but in every other way the "specificity" of the feminine is once again fully decontextualized and separated off analytically and politically from the constitution of class, race, ethnicity, and other axes of power relations that both constitute "identity" and make the singular notion of identity a misnomer" (Bulter 355).

What this sentence is trying to say is that the category of "women" which is defined by the discourses that make up what is "feminine" cannot really be such an all-inclusive category. There are oppressions even within this narrow category because of the power dynamics that have to do with race, class, ethnicity etc. Every woman experiences oppression in a different way because of racial, ethnic, and cultural differences. What Butler means by "specificity" is the notion that there is some sort of characteristic that unites "women" across cultures, yet she argues that this is not so because this definition ignores the social and historical complexities that make up different cultures and peoples. She argues that there is no such "identity" as "woman" that is monolithic and can encompass all every woman; intersectionality is completely overlooked with such a notion.

Judith Butler

"If gender is the cultural meanings that the sexed body assumes, then a gender cannot be said to follow from a sex in any one way." (356)
I interpreted this quote to mean, since gender is thrust upon a sexed body and assigned a meaning in this context, gender is a completely independent entity from sex. With such strong cultural influences, one's "proper" gender assignment cannot be tied to their "biological" sex in any way.

Unpacking Judith Butler's Sentence:

Sentence: "The identity of the feminist subject ought not to be the foundation of feminist politics, if the formation of the subject takes place within a field of power regularly buried through the assertion of that foundation. Perhaps, paradoxically, "representation" will be shown to make sense for feminism only when the subject of "women" is nowhere presumed" (Love this quote!!)

O.K. Judith - She is saying that the identification of a "feminist subject" is a creation of a subject located within a power hierarchy. Moreover, owning and internalizing the identity of the "feminist subject" upholds the system of oppression. Therefore, if feminist politics analyze and battle the construction of such hierarchies of power, then the observation and deconstruction of them cannot be done by individuals that are buried within the system through their identification as a "feminist subject". She claims that the removal of the subject of "women" could remedy this situation. (She is fun!)

unpacking judith butler

"The feminist "we" is always and only a phantasmatic construction, one that has its purposes, but which denies the internal complexity and indeterminacy of the term and constitutes itself only through the exclusion of some part of the constituency that it simultaneously seeks to represent" (TF 357)

I think that Butler is trying to make a point that there is an assumed population that "feminism" is attempting represent. The problem is that this population is not completely homogeneous and therefore when "feminism" tries to lump them all together, its inevitable that there will be people who are not being accurately represented.

I appreciate that Butler acknowledges that at times, this it serves it purpose well, but it also poses a problem that must be addressed.


Judith Butler "Gender Trouble"

"The identity of the feminist subject ought not to be the foundation of feminist politics, if the formation of the subject takes place within a field of power regularly buried through the assertion of that foundation" (356).


To me, this is Judith Butler’s main argument in this reading. In the reading “Gender Trouble,� Butler shows that feminism isn’t just about women. She points out the difficulties of only having two “true� genders in society. It doesn’t matter what gender, race or ethnicity the subject of the power struggle is. Butler describes that a feminist subject could hurt the efforts of feminist politics because there will be problems from our society’s system of power and will ultimately backfire on what real feminist politics are trying to achieve.

Judith Butler & Gender Trouble

If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps this construct called "sex" is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it was always already gender, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all.

Butler lead into this sentence by questioning how we assign 'actual' genders and sexes, and how we define 'sex' in the first place--"natural, anatomical, chromosomal, hormonal?" She also questions the scientific discourses that establish these sexes, suggesting that they may be equally constructed on historical, political and social interests. While I completely agree that the gender binary mimics actual biological sexes and that no one body can represent the extreme of one end of the scale, I DO think there's a point at which biological sex can be determined regardless of political and social influences. Of course there are babies who will display physical characteristics typical of the opposite sex, like larger female babies or timid male babies, but all babies (except for intersex babies, and you can't really claim that all babies are just a variation on an intersex baby) will fall on one side or the other. Male babies will have the natural, anatomical, chromosomal and hormonal markers of male babies, and female babies will have the natural, anatomical, chromosomal and hormonal markers of female babies. I applaud Butler's line of thinking, but I'm leery of questioning something as clearly 'immutable' as biological gender. Just looking around at the binary represented in instances that are untouched by our cultural discourses, other species that necessitate a biological binary distinction--wolves, trees, fish, bees and on and on--demonstrate to me that there really IS a distinction, and that distinction is clearly applicable to human beings as well.

gender and trouble

"The urgency of feminism to establish a universal status for patriarchy in order to strengthen the appearance of feminism's own claims to be representative has occasionally motivated the shortcut to a categorical or fictive universality of the structure of domination, held to produce women's common subjugated experience," (TF 355).

From what I understand from Butler's criticism on the subject of identifying a universal source of women's collective subjugated experiences, is she claims the overall attempts (of the feminists) to label/brand the patriarchal social system is too broad. Her argument contests that by branding the male/patriarchal system as the UNIVERSAL source i.e. sole establishment limits the scope/perception (in other words "shortcuts") of the other subjugated experiences women face. The influence and domination of universal patriarchy undermines other oppressive groups and or societal structures that also affect women and other non-white-middle/upper class men. In some cases Butler makes the claim that this universal assumption or action of categorizing a single/broad source of women's subjugated experiences is a fictitious one. This is not to say that feminists are making wrong accusations against the patriarchal structure within our society, however it excludes the possibility of any other factors. As a side note--would Butler agree that feminists of this accord are perhaps creating their own vice when they create/categorize the universality of patriarchy?

Gender and Trouble

"The urgency of feminism to establish a universal status for patriarchy in order to strengthen the appearance of feminism's own claims to be representative has occasionally motivated the shortcut to a categorical or fictive universality of the structure of domination, held to produce women's common subjugated experience," (TF 355).

From what I understand from Butler's criticism on the subject of identifying a universal source of women's collective subjugated experiences, is she claims the overall attempts (of the feminists) to label/brand the patriarchal social system is too broad. Her argument contests that by branding the male/patriarchal system as the UNIVERSAL source i.e. sole establishment limits the scope/perception (in other words "shortcuts") of the other subjugated experiences women face. The influence and domination of universal patriarchy undermines other oppressive groups and or societal structures that also affect women and other non-white-middle/upper class men. In some cases Butler makes the claim that this universal assumption or action of categorizing a single/broad source of women's subjugated experiences is a fictitious one. This is not to say that feminists are making wrong accusations against the patriarchal structure within our society, however it excludes the possibility of any other factors. As a side note--would Butler agree that feminists of this accord are perhaps creating their own vice when they create/categorize the universality of patriarchy?

Gender and Trouble

"The urgency of feminism to establish a universal status for patriarchy in order to strengthen the appearance of feminism's own claims to be representative has occasionally motivated the shortcut to a categorical or fictive universality of the structure of domination, held to produce women's common subjugated experience," (TF 355).

From what I understand from Butler's criticism on the subject of identifying a universal source of women's collective subjugated experiences, is she claims the overall attempts (of the feminists) to label/brand the patriarchal social system is too broad. Her argument contests that by branding the male/patriarchal system as the UNIVERSAL source i.e. sole establishment limits the scope/perception (in other words "shortcuts") of the other subjugated experiences women face. The influence and domination of universal patriarchy undermines other oppressive groups and or societal structures that also affect women and other non-white-middle/upper class men. In some cases Butler makes the claim that this universal assumption or action of categorizing a single/broad source of women's subjugated experiences is a fictitious one. This is not to say that feminists are making wrong accusations against the patriarchal structure within our society, however it excludes the possibility of any other factors. As a side note--would Butler agree that feminists of this accord are perhaps creating their own vice when they create/categorize the universality of patriarchy?

Judith Butler

"Gender ought not to be conceived merely as the cultural inscription of meaning on a pregiven sex ( a juridical conception); gender must also designate the very appartatus of production whereby the sexes themselves are established." (357)

I think Judith Butler is implying here that gender is not only the cultural meaning that is given to a sexed body but is also the apparatus in which sex itself is created. I think she is saying that the idea of sex is created by the ideas of gender while then turning around to use sex to gender that sexed body.

Judith Butler

"If gender is the cultural meanings that the sexed body assumes, then a gender cannot be said to follow from a sex in any one way. Taken to its logical limit, the sex/gender distinction suggests a radical discontinuity between sexed bodies and culturally contructed genders" (p 356).
I believe Butler is stating that if gender has nothing to do with the body and is only constructed by society then male doesn't have to fall on male body and woman doesn't have to fall on female body. It should be a continuum.

Judith Butler page 360

"The critical task is, rather, to locate strategies of subversive repetition enabled by those constructions, to affirm the local possibilities of intervention through participating precisely those practices of repetition that constitute identity and, therefore, present the immanent possibility of contesting them" (360).

Butler is able to conceive of a way to break down Gender binaries, the identities that, although not natural, are naturalized through naming and repetition within society. She has been critical of feminism for using identity categories to "free" women. She points out that re-using an identity that contains within it all the oppressive constructions that feminist seek to liberate women from ultimately can do nothing but re-inscribe those constructions. Her solution is to repeat other constructions using altered language and separate categories. Every instance of queer identity that exists outside the binary but engages with the norms is able to challenge or queer those norms in potentially revolutionary ways.
In Oregon this year a transgender mtf was elected mayor of the town of Silverton. An obviously queer person holding an elected office challenges the normalized notions of shame and closeting or passing that Americans have come to associate with trans identities. Being proud, out, open and very well respected helps re-inscribe not only the notions of what it means to be man and woman but what constitutes respectability and political viability. This is perhaps a type of "intervention" that Butler could point to in positing a way of contesting existing binaries.

Judith Butler- "Gender Trouble"

Butler states "Indeed, to understand identity as a practice, and as a signifying practice, is to understand culturally intelligible subjects as the resulting effects of a rule-bound discourse that inserts itself in the pervasive and mundane signifying acts of linguistic life (359)." Here, I believe Butler is trying to convey that identity is just the product of repitition, if culture didn't continually repeat itself (as far as gender and gender roles are concerned), we wouldn't have the same identities that are presented to us at birth and enforced through societal norms. Identities are transformed based on cultural practices, which are enforced through language. These gender roles that are intertwined with identity are regulated by the power structures in society. These power structures aren't as distinct as the power figures in the Oppression Model of Power, much like Focault's theory of Panopticon, the source of power is not explicit so we internally police our own bodies. This policing of our own bodies prevents us from obtaining an authentic identity, as we are trying to conform to the societal norms.

Judith Butler

“The foundationalist reasoning of identity politics tends to assume that an identity must first be in place in order for political interest to be elaborated and, subsequently, political action must be taken. My argument is that there need not be a “doer behind the deed,� but that the “doer� is variably constructed in and through the deed.� pg 357

What Butler is trying to say here is that there is no essential essence that each of us has that constitute who we are or defines us. Rather, gender and sex are placed upon us or the “deed� is place on the “doer�. In more simple terms, gender and sex are enscribed on us rather than it being within us.

Judith Butler - Gender Trouble

"The masculine/feminine binary constitutes not only the exclusive framework in which that specificity can be recognized but in every other way the "specificity" of the feminine is once again fully decontextualized and separated off analytically and politically from the constitution of class, race, ethnicity, and other axes of power relations that both constitute "identity" and make the singular notion of identity a misnomer." (TF 355)

In this sentence, Judith Butler is pointing out the ways that masculine and feminine are given narrow definitions, so that different ways of being a gender are not seen as fitting in with the categories. In this way, differences in the way that class, race, ableness, etc also shape a person are ignored. Because of the attempt to isolate masculine/feminine from other influences, the definition of the terms is inadequate in describing and including all identities of people. I think this is similar to the early models of oppression, in which sexism was separated from the other -isms; when a more accurate definition would include the intersectionality of the -isms. Likewise, definitions of masculine and feminine should take into account other influences on identity; thus decreasing the specificity of the terms to include other interpretations of gender.

"Gender Trouble" Judith Butler

"The masculine/feminine binary constitutes not only the exclusive framework in which that specificity can be recognized but in every other way the “specificity� of the feminine is once again fully decontextualized and separated off analytically and politically from the constitution of class, race, ethnicity, and other axes of power relation that both constitute “identity� and make the singular notion of identity a misnomer� pg. 355 of Theorizing Feminisms, “Gender Trouble� - Judith Butler

If I had one sentence to use from Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble� to summarize the Feminist Theory course, I do believe this would be the one. In every paper I have written for this class, on rape culture, black female oppression and third world feminism there always appears to be one underlying theme: interlocking oppressions. One’s oppression is not caused singularly by one dimension, but by many even if the majority of them are the least marginalized within a group –they too work within that person’s make-up to form an individual, just for them special kind of personalized oppression, if you will. I think Butler is trying to say, being a female, given that noun exists in her world, is more than one dimensional. There are many other factors, so many factors that there truly is no black and white way to classify even within a casual sense, let alone a public, judicial one.

judith butler.

"The internal paradox of this foundationalism is that it presumes, fixes and constrains the very "subjects" that it hopes to represent and liberate." - 361

This sentence is saying that feminism can't just be about the empowerment of 'women' as that works against what is trying to be accomplished. Instead of working to redefine gender and all that it entails, this way of defining things continues to place identity into a certain context. "Women" is an exclusive group, which defeats the purpose of changing the spaces we exist in.

Universal Patriarchy

“The political assumption that there must be a universal basis for feminism, one which must be found in an identity assumed to exist cross-culturally, often accompanies the notion that the oppression of women has some singular form discernible in the universal or hegemonic structure of patriarchy or masculine domination� (TF, 354).

I thought it would be best if I broke this sentence down in order to analyze it. Here is my interpretation:

-“The political assumption that there must be a universal basis for feminism…�

This is the political (meaning power and public) assumption (made by Westerners) that there is the same kinds of needs for feminism around the world.

-“one which must be found in an identity assumed to exist cross-culturally�
This basis for feminism is assumed to be the same everywhere, “cross-culturally� (West and East). Women all experience oppression from men in the same ways: sexual, gender, economical etc. It is inevitable in all societies and comes about in the same processes.

“…often accompanies the notion that the oppression of women has some singular form discernable in the universal or hegemonic structure of patriarchy or masculine domination�

The assumption that the same oppressions of women exists universally goes along with the idea that the oppression of women comes only in one form that is distinguishable in the universal (West and “non-West�) structure (ways that society has been created and maintained) of patriarchy (control by the ideologies of men) or masculine domination (meaning domination by power, force, violence, oppression, inequality).

Overall, I think that Butler is critiquing the ways in which Western feminism has tried to categorize ALL women in the world as having the same oppression, simply by being women. The idea that patriarchy is universal is a “short cut to a categorial or fictive universality of the structure of domination� (355).

Judith Butler

"The identity of the feminist subject ought not to be the foundation of feminist politics, if the formation of the subject takes place within a field of power regularly buried through the assertion of that foundation" (356).
I believe this sentence is a main part of Butler's argument. When she says that there should be no feminist subject at the foundation of feminist politics, many would agree that usually this feminist subject is women. However, in her essay "Gender Trouble," she tries to pull away from feminism being surrounding by only women. She also draws out the complications of only two genders in society. Whether a man, woman, white, black, etc, etc, is the feminist subject of feminist politics, we are pushing that subject into facing scrutiny of the power system. If there is a feminist subject at the foundation of feminist politics, this feminist subject will hinder the efforts of feminist politics because there will be constraints from society's power system upon what the feminist politics are trying to accomplish.

Judith Butler

"The qualifications for being a subject must first be met before representation can be extended"-pg. 353

Judith Butler is trying to say that in order for a woman to be acknowledged as woman, they must meet the criteria that society holds women towards. In our culture, women have a number of stereotypes they "should" possess in order to follow the norms. If women are different than the "girly" girls they are usually frowned upon by the rest of society. Transvestites are the perfect example for this theory. When other people see a transvestite or transsexual they do not recognize them as female. People are not understanding of those who fall outside of the norms in culture. In the movie we watched in class, it was obvious when transvestites were arrested for trying to use the bathroom they felt they belonged in. Society will only give a subject credit if he/she fits the category they feel is correct.

November 13, 2008

Judith Butler - From Gender Trouble

"It would make no sense, then, to define gender as the cultural interpretation of sex, if sex itself is a gendered category." (pg. 357)

When I read this sentence, it was a little confusing at first. However, I believe she is trying to say that we cannot differentiate between SEX and GENDER and say that gender is solely based on the culture's interpretation. Because no matter what, sex is already considered a part of what a gender category is. Which then leads to not having gender be based on cultural interpretation but to let it establish itself on its own.

Judith Butler

"For feminist theory, the development of a language that fully or adequately represents women has seemed necessary to foster the political visibility of women" (Butler 353). By this, I think Judith Butler means that developing a language or selecting certain word choice to describe women is needed to represent women in the way they should be represented, or the way the feminist would like women to be represented. Language has a large contribution to describing thing or people and the language used to discribe a group can make a significant difference in the way they are perceived. Politically women need to be visible and developing a language to fully describe and represent women is very important so that the women will be heard.

judith butler, from gender trouble

on page 353, judith butler explains that "representation is the normative function of a language which is said either to reveal or do distort what is assumed to be true about the category of women".

butler is arguing that gender is performative, no truth exists behind the acts that supposedly "express" gender, and these acts create, versus define, a stable gender identity. certain words or actions may seem to make up what a woman is, and while they are a regular part of live, that by no means makes them complete truth.

Butler sentence

On page 354, Judith Butler states:
"Apart from the foundationalist fictions that support the notion of the subject, however, there is the political problem that feminism encounters in the assumption that the term 'women' denotes a common identity. Rather than a stable signifier that commands the assent of those whom it purports to describe and represent, women, even in the plural, has become a troublesome term a site of contest, a cause for anxiety."

I believe Butler is making a very astute point in this sentence. In questioning who is the 'subject' of feminism, she points out that simply labeling women as the subject is inherently flawed. The term ‘women’ is nonspecific. It does not account for the multiple avenues of oppression that intersectionally combine to produce hybrid subjects. The avenues such as class, race, sexuality, and ethnicity are separate from gender. Using the term ‘women’ for the subject of feminism creates this picture of a homogenous uniform feminist woman. But in fact, as I believe Butler saying, there are many different shapes and forms of subjects in feminism, and the so called common identity that is created by the term ‘women’ presents a serious problem and truly does cause anxiety.

This is significant because in order to fix something, or come up with a solution to a problem, the 1st step is CORRECTLY identifying the problem. In this case, we need to take great care when drawing the main ‘subject’ of feminism in order to help the effectiveness of the movement.

November 11, 2008

Always know the context!

The most important use of the veil in the film in my opinion was the scene where Marji has to use it to cover her entire body so as to be unnoticed. She is taking herself out of the private realm, where she can wear no veil and be more personal with her outer cloths, and goes into public where she cant be so much of an individual with her outer wear and has to be an individual with her inner-self. It is important to note that the veil isn't smoldering their identities, It is simply forcing it to be shown in different ways. For example, at the party when everyone has their veils off, this doesn't mean that they hate to be veiled. Like the clip on U-tube pointed out, the veil can be used in a woman's favor, to hide things they don't want people to see like being poor for example. At a party when your young and rebellious, being veiled isnt so much the priority.

I would like to pull from my numerous other readings done in other classes as well because the veil in this movie and in our media is a highly political subject of third world women. It is the "saving rhetoric" that many western feminists have gotten themselves into when talking about the veil. Third world women are viewed as being oppressed and being forced to hide their identities when the veil is really not a huge issue to the third-world women themselves. This issue is taken on with a western viewpoint as well as a western context, neither of which is applicable at all to third world women culture, politics, and ideals.

November 3, 2008

Hmmm,..?

After finishing the last chapter of Narayan’s book called “eating cultures�, I am now more in tune to the many complexities at work in the co-modification of cultural cuisine. What used to seem to me like an easy appetite concern is now a vastly more complicated decision with problems centered on the US and “the doctrine of exceptionalism� it employs when it comes to issues surrounding colonialism/imperialism. For England to take a spice like curry and turn it into something it’s not (powder), only to pretend it is in fact the original and that they created it is imperialistic, no doubt. I however don’t think that today eating at an ethnic restaurant could be considered a legitimate form of culinary imperialism, simply because the root of the issue is so far in the past and the issue isn’t relevant to the everyday American looking to grab a bite. It is a fair claim if the US was exploiting culinary immigrant workers or passing ethnic cuisine off as our own, but that isn’t so much the case. To get a tad abstract: perhaps if the argument were on the large scale and the question was pertaining to the entire industry of ethnic foods and the many surrounding politics involved, maybe then I could understand the situation to be imperialistic.

November 2, 2008

Culinary imperialism

I found the interesting point of this article was when Uma Narayan discussed how women from third world countries were often excluded from "ethnic restaurants" and I thought it was an ingenious extension of a theme that she discussed throughout her book. More or less three groups, Westerners, third world nationalists, and feminists would often extend their rhetorical argument by lumping together the other two groups. Westerners and immigrant men would often go to these restaurants, but one would rarely see immigrant women at these restaurants.

I would argue that eating at "ethnic" restaurants (Would we classify Burger King as an "ethnic" restaurant? It does serve food from western culture...) is not imperialism with two caveats inspired by Uma Narayan.
1) Food served at any restaurant should be served by workers who are given a fair wage and benefits.
2) The food served must not be harvested in a means that exploits the workers or the environment.
Beyond that, simply because food is changed when it crosses borders does not imply imperialism. The food served is ultimately the food that people prefer. We should be mindful of this fact. I'm sure many would be shocked to learn that the Chalupas served at Taco Bell or any barbecue in the U.S. that claims to be Mongolian is absolutely nothing like food served either in Mexico or Mongolia.

November 1, 2008

Culinary Imperialism and Ethnic Cuisine

The most important thing I gathered from this reading was the importance of scientifically studying everything when analyzing cultural issues; even something as small as food. When I began reading this chapter I thought that any information on food is insignificant and attempting to relate cuisine to cultural imperialism would be a far stretch. But after reading Narayan’s analysis of curry, I was convinced of its relevance. The fact that England had changed true Indian curry or Malasas into ‘curry powder’, and even referenced curry as its own invention is astounding in its imperialistic implications! To put it bluntly, I thought of it as some Orwellian 1984 S���! The fact that Englishmen refrained from trying true Indian curry (as it would distract them from their civilizing mission) while every Victorian middle class cookbook now had curry recipes is representative of colonial implications. Also, these recipes were not even in the ethnic foods section! But again, I want to mention that the most important thing I took from this reading was not the colonial imperialistic implications of curry, but rather that curry can even have colonial implications!
In response to the 2nd question, I do not think eating in Western ethnic restaurants is a form of culinary imperialism. It is important to note that my answer may be biased because of a conversation I had with an immigrant Chinese restaurant owner. He works there all day, seven days a week, and he clearly said he appreciated the interest and business received from his customers. In my opinion, westerners lazily showing interest by enjoying ethnic cuisine is better than showing no interest at all. Some are genuinely interested in exploring other cultures, and Narayan states that giving business to these ethnic restaurants helps those who came here with the sole means of supporting themselves with their business. But it is important to remember that even though you may have eaten at every ethnic restaurant in the metropolitan area, this does NOT mean that you are incredibly cultured and worldly!

Blog 3

In regards to Narayan's chapter on culinary imperialism, I would like to remark on the quote "seemingly simple acts of eating are flavored with complicated, and sometimes contradictory, cultural meanings" (161). In her last chapter she speeks of the underlying complexities when it comes acts ranging from the British's changes to authentic Indian curry to a seemingly meaningless dinner out at an ethnic restaurant. In regards to modifying what are supposed to be "ethnic" foods as they cross cultural and physical borders, I believe that it is an inevitable process that will take place not due to culinary imperialism. I think that that process takes place because it is almost impossible to maintain the ethnicity of a dish as it is recreated further and further away from where it was originally created. In regards to eating at ethnic restaurants, I do agree that American's often fail to recognize the amount of hard work that has been put into the particular establishment. People often go out to dinner to have a relaxing evening away from home and enjoy good cuisine, not to think about the suffering of the people who are preparing the food for them. But on the other end of the spectrum, I believe that it is a great sign that ethnic restaurants can establish themselves and thrive in the United States. Westerners who go out to eat at ethnic restaurants are fascilitating the success of the business and most likely appreciating the food at the same time. Through my personal experience with eating and cooking ethnic foods, I have learned a lot about the culture from which the food came. Now whether or not the recipe had been slightly modified as it been brought to the United States does not reflect a form of cultural imperialism in my opinion, rather it is a good thing to incorporate food from other cultures in to that of your own.

why the abundance?


I gathered that Narayan thought it was important to look at how food has been a vessel for colonization but doesn’t necessarily mean that by eating at an ethnic restaurant that you are perpetuating imperialism. She critiques that part of Heldke’s view of imperialism. Narayan states that it is important as westerns to question how am I able to eat food from around the world and to look at who and why is serving the food. How are relationships of power shown through that relationship of server and consumer?

Do I think it is neocolonial form of culinary imperialism to eat at an ethnic restaurant? It is hard for me to say…. maybe because I enjoy eating at ethnic restaurants. I have had classes in the past that ask this question. I think it is important to look at how power is transmitted along the lines of colonialism when we, as westerns eat at ethnic restaurants. Like Narayan mentioned, why is it that we pay so much less for food at an ethnic restaurant and why do we not tip as well? I don’t necessarily think that consciously we reproduce imperialistic ideologies when we eat at ethnic restaurants but on some level we do reinscribe those ideologies. It is always important to critically ask oneself why it is that we are able to have an abundance of choices when it comes to food in the western world and why that isn’t so in countries around the world.

Restoring History and Politics to Third World Traditions

Chapter Two - Restoring History and Politics to 'Third World Traditions': What is the point Narayaan is making in this chapter and what questions do you have after reading this chapter.

I think the point Narayan is trying to make in this chapter is that it is quite difficult to fully understand the culture and traditions of another group because there are so many attributing factors to the legitimacy of these traditions. One of the examples she talks about is how some feminists are not aware of the "historical backgrounds and proceed in a manner whereby they distinguish the terms of their analyses and representations from the terms of colonialist discourses." They do not fully understand the actual meaning and practices behind the actual traditions and often make rash assumptions about them. Some questions i have after reading this chapter are: In what ways does American culture get misrepresented to the outside world, or Third World Countries? Would they assume some of our cultural values and practices are extremely wasteful and lavish? Also, I would be interested in knowing what the opinions of fellow third world members of each others traditions are and if they have any qualms with them, or do they just understand that they practice different things just as themselves.