reading response #4

"Introduction: Performing Disidentification," written by Jose Esteban Munoz, focuses on current feminist politics and theory and how the two work together in today's age. In his work, Munoz focuses on discussing, "Feminist thinkers of the new symbolic type would appear to believe that the way to do feminist politics is to use words in a subversive way, in academic publications of lofty obscurity and disdainful abstractness. These symbolic gestures, it is believed, are themselves a form of political resistance; and so one need not engage with messy things such as legislatures and movements in order to act daringly. The new feminism, moreover, instructs its members that there is little room for large-scale social change, and maybe no room at all. We are all, more or less, prisoners of the structures of power that have defined our identity as women; we can never change those structures in a large-scale way, and we can never scape from them. All that we can hope to do is to find spaces within the structures of power in which to parody them, to poke fun at them, to transgress them in speech. And so symbolic verbal politics that is really possible." He then furthers his ideas about where feminism was and where it is now by analyzing what, "we wonder what has become of old-style feminist politics and the material realities to which it was committed, it seems necessary to reckon with Butler's work and influence, and to scrutinize the arguments that have led so many to adopt a stance that looks very much like quietism and retreat."
One of the theorists that Munoz spends significant time discussing is Judith Butler. In regards to her work, he states: It is difficult to come to grips with Butler's ideas, because it is difficult to figure out what they are. Furthermore, he believes that, "It would seem that she is addressing a group of young feminist theorists in the academy who are neither students of philosophy, caring about what Althusser and Freud and Kripke really said, nor outsiders, needing to be informed about the nature of their projects and persuaded of their worth." The target audience of Butler's work is unclear. Also, Munoz concludes that, "in this way obscurity creates an aura of importance. It also serves another related purpose. It bullies the reader into granting that, since one cannot figure out what is going on, there must be something significant going on, some complexity of thought, where in reality there are often familiar or even shopworn notions, addressed too simply and too casually to add any new dimension of understanding." To me, this appears to be the norm in current feminist theory. It seems as if the more confusing and less relatable a work is, the more highly it is praised. In my mind, this norm of feminist theory is hurting feminisms ability to appeal to the masses.

While Munoz makes good points throughout his article and back all of his claims with logical conclusions, I do not believe that he is hard enough on Judith Butler. My belief in this comes directly from the fact that I strongly do not like the way she write or believe that it is serves much of a purpose. In large, it seems to me that Butler is preaching to the choir and nothing more. While she may have good ideas, the way that she explains them, to me, feel like feminism without application and if one cannot apply it to the better good, I just do not see the point or what good could possibly come from it. As a result, I feel that her work turns the average person who does not know much about feminism away from feminism because her thought appear to be incoherent. T o sum it up, I think that her work would serve a better purpose if she spent more time attempting to connect and explain things to the masses better so her work can be better understood and more thoroughly circulated.