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Judith Butler

36 Podcast Episodes

Latest 30 Nov 2021 | Updated Daily

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Judith Butler‘s ”What is Critique?”

Theory & Philosophy

In this episode, I present Judith Butler's "What is Critique?" There are many issues here I try to unpack. Let me know how I did! If you want to support me, you can do that with these links: Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theoryandphilosophy paypal.me/theoryphilosophy Twitter: @DavidGuignion IG: @theory_and_philosophy

22mins

13 Nov 2021

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Censoring Judith Butler (ft. Eoin Higgins)

Cancel Me, Daddy

This week Katelyn and Oliver-Ash have a colorful conversation with freelance journalist Eoin Higgins about the Judith Butler debacle and the big transphobia problem at the UK branch of The Guardian.  You can support Cancel Me, Daddy on Patreon to join our community and help us become a weekly show: https://www.patreon.com/cancelmedaddy

38mins

16 Sep 2021

Similar People

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Episode 81: Judith Butler's Gender Bubbles

Blocked and Reported

Show notes/Links: Jesse's review of Trans: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/books/review/trans-helen-joyce.html Wi spa incident: https://nypost.com/2021/09/02/charges-filed-against-sex-offender-in-wi-spa-casecharges-filed-against-sex-offender-in-notorious-wi-spa-incident/ Max Read on Gawker: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2016/08/did-i-kill-gawker.html Crackstarter: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/05/27/mayor_rob_ford_crack_video_scandal_gawkers_crackstarter_hits_200000_goal.html Random girl singing N-word: https://www.gawker.com/white-kid-caught-ecstatically-singing-nigga-by-coache-1697520011 Bryan Goldberg buys Gawker: https://variety.com/2018/digital/news/gawker-acquired-bustle-bryan-goldberg-1202871999/ "The Relentless and Well-Deserved Mockery of Bryan Goldberg": https://www.gawker.com/the-relentless-and-well-deserved-mockery-of-bryan-goldb-1325205558 New Gawker meltdown: https://www.thedailybeast.com/gawker-writers-quit-over-editorial-director-carson-griffiths-offensive-tweets-workplace-comments We got bigots reviewing bigots out here!: https://www.gawker.com/media/bigot-reviews-bigot-for-nyt-book-review What's Jesse Singal's F*****g Deals?: https://jezebel.com/whats-jesse-singals-f*****g-deal-1826930495 Carey Callahan on informed consent: https://mariacatt42.medium.com/in-which-i-fail-to-find-you-any-gate-keeping-622c447a835f The terrible Atlantic article: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/when-a-child-says-shes-trans/561749/ Jesse's review was 'violent': https://twitter.com/britnidlc/status/1435323903199649797 Murders: https://twitter.com/thesarahkelly/status/1435722753156468737 HRC's fearmongering: https://www.hrc.org/resources/fatal-violence-against-the-transgender-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2021 Polling on self-ID: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2020/07/16/where-does-british-public-stand-transgender-rights Judith Butler interviewed in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/sep/07/judith-butler-interview-gender Original, pre-cuts version: https://archive.is/jds9K Judith Butler wins the Bad Writing Contest: http://www.denisdutton.com/bad_writing.htm Martha Nussbaum demolishes Butler: https://newrepublic.com/article/150687/professor-parody Eoin Higgins: https://twitter.com/EoinHiggins_/status/1435355735056162826 Jezebel explains what happened: https://jezebel.com/the-guardian-says-edited-judith-butler-interview-was-re-1847636842 Nathan Robinson says he lost his Guardian gig for being harsh on Israel: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2021/02/how-the-media-cracks-down-on-critics-of-israel Widespread claims of censorship: https://twitter.com/search?q=guardian%20censor*&src=typed_query ...but no (thread): https://twitter.com/jessesingal/status/1435674221586305027 Critique of gender identity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPVNxYkawao&ab_channel=HelenHeaton WoLF folks on a panel at Heritage: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/conservative-group-hosts-anti-transgender-panel-feminists-left-n964246 Gender Now: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/series/gender-now This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at www.blockedandreported.org/subscribe

1hr 8mins

11 Sep 2021

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Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, by Judith Butler

Breaking Down Patriarchy

Amy: Welcome to Breaking Down Patriarchy! I’m Amy McPhie Allebest. Thus far on Breaking Down Patriarchy, we’ve talked a lot about how the system of patriarchy has impacted women, but we haven’t talked much about what it means to be a woman. Simone de Beauvoir famously said “one is not born, but becomes, woman,” and we talked about the concept that sex is biological and gender is social, or put another way “sex is between the legs and gender is between the ears.” But today we’re going to discuss a groundbreaking text that called those assertions into question and paved the way for queer theory. It’s Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, written in 1990, and I’m so happy to have the brilliant and very experienced Maxine Hanks here to discuss it with us! Thanks so much for being here again, Maxine.Maxine:  It’s always fun to discuss books with you, I love your podcast.   I’ve been looking forward to discussing Gender Trouble, it’s a major feminist work that changed the landscape of feminist theory and gender studies.   I was majoring in women’s studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s when this book came out, so it loomed large in our program, and reading list, shaping feminist theory courses at the U.U.  I found it really challenging yet invigorating then, and it has continued to be both since, along with Butler’s subsequent works. Amy:  This book was recommended to me by you, Maxine, and once you mentioned it I started seeing it referenced everywhere, including by my friend Matthew, who will be doing our episodes on LGBTQ history and queer theory, and told me I had to read Gender Trouble as a primer. :) So I’m very glad we added it to the reading list! Although I must say it’s pretty dense and academic and jargon-y, so most listeners will probably appreciate the summary, rather than reading the whole thing. It’s definitely a text you would read in a grad school course on gender theory - not something you would take on vacation. So we’ll really appreciate your experience having taught this book!I’ll start us off with a brief intro of the author, and then I’d love it if you could provide some context and framing before we start sharing passages of the book.I’ll note that Judith Butler is legally nonbinary, and Butler goes by both she/hers and they pronouns. In sharing her bio right now I’m choosing to use “they” pronouns, and I’m going to be completely honest and a little vulnerable in sharing that because I was raised in the time and place I was, and because I don’t have any nonbinary friends, it feels very new to me and thus outside my comfort zone to use “they” pronouns. So while Judith Butler would be ok with “she/her” pronouns, I am going to use “they/their” so that when I meet nonbinary people in the future I will have some practice. During the rest of the episode I might revert to she/her, but I want to be clear that if Judith Butler said “please use ‘they’ then I would use ‘they’ the whole time.Judith Pamela Butler was born in 1956, in Cleveland, Ohio, to a family of Hungarian-Jewish and Russian-Jewish descent. Most of their maternal grandmother's family perished in the Holocaust. Butler's parents were practicing Reform Jews; their mother was raised Orthodox, eventually becoming Reform, while their father was raised Reform. And here I have to just have to comment again - it keeps coming up - the contribution of Jewish people to the field of philosophy and women’s studies!! And I want to point out that Reform Judaism is a major Jewish denomination that emphasizes the evolving nature of the faith, and the ethical aspects of Judaism rather than the ceremonial ones, as well as the importance of human reason and intellect. This makes sense, then, that Butler attended both Hebrew school and special classes on Jewish ethics, where they received their "first training in philosophy". Apparently these ethics classes were created by Judith’s Hebrew school Rabbi as a punishment because Judith was "too talkative in class".Butler chose to attend university at Bennington College because “it seemed to be a place where, as a young queer kid, I would be okay in 1974. I knew that there were other people there who were at least minimally bisexual.” Butler says that their parents, while not always wholly comfortable with their sexuality, were ultimately accepting. Judith remembers that their  father was very happy when they came home from college with a Jewish girlfriend. So Judith attended Bennington College before transferring to Yale University, where they studied philosophy and received a BA in 1978 and a PhD in Philosophy in 1984. Butler taught at Wesleyan University, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University before joining University of California, Berkeley, in 1993.So in the preface to the 1999 edition, Butler shares some of the motivations and thinking behind writing Gender Trouble, which I found really useful as I approached the book.    First, Butler says “I sought to undersatnd some of the terror and anxiety that some people suffer in ‘becoming gay,’ the fear of losing one’s place in gender.” (xi)Second, I found this description really helpful:“[the text] was produced not merely from the academy, but from convergent social movements of which I have been a part, and within the context of a lesbian and gay community on the east coast of the United States in which I lived for fourteen years prior to the writing of this book. Despite the dislocation of the subject that the text performs, there is a person here: I went to many meetings, bars, and marches and saw many kinds of genders. I understood myself to be at the crossroads of some of them, and encountered sexuality at several of its cultural edges. I knew many people who were trying to find their way in the midst of a significant movement for sexual recognition and freedom, and felt the exhilaration and frustration that goes along with being a part of that movement both in its hopefulness and internal dissension. At the same time that I was ensconced in the academy, I was also living a life outside those walls, and though Gender Trouble  is an academic book, it began, for me, with a crossing-over, sitting on Rehoboth Beach, wondering whether I could like the different sides of my life.” (xvii)And finally, this passage was really striking, and I believe, important in understanding the book:“I grew up understanding something of the violence of gender norms: an uncle incarcerated for his anatomically anomalous body, deprived of family and friends, living out his days in an ‘institute’ in the Kansas prairies; gay cousins forced to leave their homes becasue of their sexuality, real and imagined; my own tempestuos coming out at the age of 16; and a subsequent adult landscape of lost jobs, lovers, and homes. All of this subjected me to strong and scarring condemnation but, luckily, did not prevent me from pursuing pleasure and insisting on a legitimating recognition for my sexual life. It was difficult to bring this violence into view precisely because gender was so taken for granted at the same time that it was violently policed.” (xx)“This book is written then as a part of the cultural life of a collective struggle that has had, and will continue to have, some success in increasing the possibilities for a livable life for those who live, or try to live, on the sexual margins.” (xxviii)So with this introduction about Butler, and the personal questions and struggles that drove them to write the book, Maxine, could you give us some broader context about Gender Trouble and what it meant when it was published.Maxine:  Sure.  I use the allowable “her” and “she” pronouns for Butler, even tho I’m comfortable with using they, but find it cumbersome in a conversation like this.Gender Trouble arrived at another paradigm shift between the decades of feminism (like Sexual Politics in 1970 and Woman'sSpiritRising in 1980), as a watershed moment that shaped,  captured, even created a new horizon for feminism. GT marked the end of 2nd wave feminismand beginning of 3rd wave feminism. To use a post-modern term, it was a "signfier" of that shift, from 2nd Wave feminism & women's studies in the 1970s-80s,  to queer theory & gender studies of 3rd wave feminism, in the 1990s to 2000s.In her Preface to 2nd edition, Butler said she "didn't know it would constitute a provocative "intervention" in feminist theory or be cited as one of the founding texts of queer theory." Like the mothers of feminist theory before her, she didn't know she was the mother of a new movement or paradigm shift, she was just struggling to voice a vital new perspective.   Her explanation is revealing: "As I wrote it, I understood myself to be in an embattled and oppositional relationship with certain forms of feminism, even as I understood the text to be part of feminism itself."  This confession describes the crux of her work's position in relation to feminism, and also my response to her work  -- which I see as indeed oppositional to some feminisms, departing from feminism while also emerging from it. Her theories are feminist in some ways  but anti-feminist in others. I see this paradox as both the strength and weakness of her work, and why there were mixed reactions from other feminists to her work, as well as to queer theory which arose from her work.  2nd Wave feminism had worked hard for decades to remove sex & gender limitations for women yet also provide a needed distinction between sex identity as biologically based vs. gender identity as socially constructed or fluid. This distinction gave men, women, LGBTs, intersex and trans individuals more freedom and validation to determine and claim their own unique gender identity, sexual orientation, sex roles, and sexual identity -- regardless of their biological identity.   So the premise was that while sex is biological, gender and identity are constructed. Amy: Ok, let’s dive into some of her basic premises along with sharing some passages from the text! Maxine, would you like to get us started with some important concepts from the book?Maxine:   Sure. Butler's work was a radical departure from and deconstruction of that feminist notion of sex vs. gender as a dichotomy.  Butler argued that both gender and sex are performative as established through one's choices and behavior, so one can construct different gender and sexual identities via differing behaviors.  She proposed a notion of performative identity as the basis for gender & sexuality, asserting that both are created by behavior or performance.“If gender attributes and acts, the various ways in which a body shows or produces its cultural signification, are performative, then there is no preexisting identity by which an act or attribute might be measured; there would be no true or false, real or distorted acts of gender, and the postulation of a true gender identity would be revealed as a regulatory fiction.  That gender reality is created through sustained social performances means that the very notions of an essential sex and a true or abiding masculinity or femininity are also constituted as part of the strategy that conceals gender’s performative character and the performative possibilities for proliferating gender configurations outside the restricting frames of masculinist domination and compulsory heterosexuality.” So Butler criticized a key premise of feminist theory and practice regarding gender and sex, arguing that both gender & sex are irreducible to natural or heterosexual categories.  Her view opposed all essentialist claims about sex as natural or fixed, instead emphasizing that sex & gender are both relational, thus like all relations, they are constructed.  She asserted that no "stable gender identity" exists behind actions that seek to "express" gender, but these acts constitute an "illusion" of stable gender identity rather than a stable reality.  “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 also insisted that power is a major factor in the formation or performance of identity.Butler shifted the view from biological sex as natural or  essential to the view that  nothing is natural or essential --  all aspects of the body and identity are fluid, constructed by behavior, desire, performance, and power. Gender Trouble engaged theories from Freud and Lacan on psychological formation, de Beauvoir, Kristeva, Irigaray, and Wittig on female sex, gender and feminism, plus Derrida and Foucault on post-modern theory.  She used the work of these theorists to support her view that sex as well as gender is socially constructed.   Her conclusions became the basis for many gender studies and feminisst theory courses in the 1990s onward, which replicated her engagements and conclusions.  Even a fanzine "Judy!" celebrated her influence.Butler critiqued the feminist differentiation between gender and sex, arguing that feminism was wrong to view "women" as a group of people who had common characteristics. She labelled that as "ahistorical" or not grounded in actual history of bodies, identity and their evolution, thus unreal.  “If there is something right in Beauvoir's claim that one is not born, but rather becomes a woman, it follows that woman itself is a term in process, a becoming, a constructing that cannot rightfully be said to originate or to end. As an ongoing discursive practice, it is open to intervention and resignification.”Butler argued that feminism had reinforced the binary view of gender relations, and traditional gender roles, thus feminists should not try to define "women" as a definite category but feminists should instead "focus on....how power functions and shapes our understandings of womanhood in both society and within the feminist movement."   Butler dissolved the linking of sex and gender, so that gender and desire (which replaced sex as the more operative factor) can be "flexible, free floating and not caused by other stable factors."    Butler theorized that both gender and sex are socially-constructed, malleable, fluid, or "performative" rather than sex being fixed biologically, unmutable or "essential."  This notion of identity as entirely free and flexible performance, not essential, is one of the foundations of queer theory.Butler was right in several ways --  that the binary of male vs. female sexed bodies doesn't always hold true.  Nearly 2% of human bodies are born with nonbinary primary or secondary sex characteristics---  atypical chromosomes or intersex reproductive organs, thus not exclusively male or female but somehwere between or both sexes. Also, half of 1% of all people identify as transgender -- and even typical male or female sexed bodies can morph from male to female or female to male, via hormone treatment and sexual reassignment surgery.   So biological sex identity, as well as gender identity, can be fluid, malleable, performative. Her work inspired and championed a much-needed inclusion of sex/gender fluidity, nonbinary sex & gender, queer theory, sex & gender performance, trans identities and activism as integral parts of gender studies -- thus widening women's studies and feminist theory into broader and more complex fields of gender studies and queer theoryAmy:   So what were the responses to Butler’s work?  Were they mostly positive or critical or both?Maxine:  They were more positive than negative but energetically both.  Critics asked -- are Butler's views sound, valid arguments?  Also, do they go too far?    And does she champion true inclusion? or erasure?  Her work moved a feminist theory away from difference feminism (that biological sex is still essential and binary in some ways while gender identity is constructed, fluid) to a gender theory that there is no essential sex so there is no binary.“There is no reason to assume that gender ... ought to remain as two. The presumption of a binary gender system implicitly retains the belief in a mimetic relation of gender to sex whereby gender mirrors sex or is otherwise restricted by it.”She shifted the perspective for defining identity -- away from binary bodies to nonbinary bodies, from a binary view of life to a nonbinary view.  This was powerful and needed -- so that nonbinary lives could speak as central, real, not marginal or Other or unreal.   So now, there were two conflicting central premises or perspectives from which to define bodies -- biological vs. constructed, and binary vs. nonbinary.The nonbinary view of queer theory and trans bodies redefined sex & gender terms from...

1hr 27mins

24 Aug 2021

Most Popular

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Judith Butler dismantles the forces that unleash violence

Pretty Heady Stuff

Judith Butler is an internationally recognized feminist philosopher whose work is incredibly difficult to summarize. The author of more than twenty books of groundbreaking critical theory, she has indelibly shaped our ability to understand the body politic, the politics of the body, and the unbelievable complexity of our relationships to one another.Because it's so challenging to adequately capture the extent of Butler’s influence, we focus on her most recent writing, in part because she admits that her thinking has significantly changed over the years. So, while she has been concerned with the question of grieving, and in particular, of the politics of grievability, for almost two decades, her most recent work is differently centered on the problem of how life in the now deeply nihilistic stages of neoliberal capitalism might be safeguarded against increasingly normalized destruction. In our conversation, Butler explores the implications of Arundhati Roy’s plea for the coronavirus pandemic to be seen as a portal. She stresses that the outcomes of the virus, the effects that it will have on society, are not yet decided. The way she puts it is that “the pandemic is a disease of the interconnected world;” but, seen from this perspective, the virus exposes the profound inequalities that characterize and corrupt our interconnection and interdependence. Rather than creating more alienation and apathy, Butler hopes that this might serve as the potential basis for a radically global politics of equality, but explains that this will likely only become possible if we can learn to conceptualize our interconnection in new ways, to actually perceive the relationship between untimely death, inequality and structures of oppression. I was especially struck, in this interview, by Butler’s explanation of the meaning of outrage. For her, outrage means that we refuse the intolerable nature of our circumstances, but it also means that, when we’re faced with unending violence, there is an “unrealism” or utopian power that emerges, making a seemingly impossible politics of nonviolence conceivable. If it is true that, as a form of life, human beings are intrinsically prone to aggression, we are nonetheless not doomed to violence. Violence is a “practice, an action, a way of living,” as Butler puts it. What it manifests, in her view, is not only the destruction of life and of social bonds, but also the authorizing and unleashing of violence, even when the goal of violent action is to end violence.One gets the sense that Butler knows that this is a difficult proposition when we consider a situation like the one faced by Palestinians, who live daily with the specter of death and destruction. But Butler speaks explicitly here to the ways that Israel’s invocation of a “non-reciprocal right” to self-defense “legitimates in advance” any and all of its campaigns of bombardment, its wars on Palestinian life. Self-defense, in this context, constitutes what she calls a “tactical… instrumentalization of a right,” one that strategically ignores the fact that Palestine does not, in fact, have a national self that can be defended under the dictates of international law. Its people cannot claim an equal right to self-defense when attacked. This produces a situation in which Israel, it’s increasingly clear, seeks what she terms the “genocidal... liquidation” of the Palestinian population. And the only check on the Israeli’s state’s drift toward greater and greater genocidal violence is, in her estimation, a fairly weak international community. And yet, she notes, the Palestinian people persist, they persist through daily practices of resistance: through humor, a specific sort of steadfastness, and through militant grieving and community support. They persist in spite of the inability of the international news media and the international community to register in vivid ways the reality of Palestinian lifeworlds.

1hr 20mins

8 Jun 2021

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Judith Butler - The Voice in the Noise - Overcoming Battle Fatigue

Kingdom Faith Crawley

21-Mar-2021

21 Mar 2021

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Judith Butler - The Voice in the Noise - Overcoming Battle Fatigue

Kingdom Faith Worthing

21-Mar-2021

21 Mar 2021

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Judith Butler - The Voice in the Noise - Overcoming Battle Fatigue

Kingdom Faith Horsham

21-Mar-2021

21 Mar 2021

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2. Judith Butler on JK Rowling, trans rights, feminism and intersectionality

The Owen Jones Podcast

Judith Butler is one of the most famous feminist scholars on earth. In this interview, we discuss the relationship between trans rights and feminism, why transphobia is so rampant in the UK, JK Rowling's interventions on trans rights, what intersectionality is and why it's important - and much more.Press support us taking on the right-wing media here: https://patreon.com/owenjones84Support this show http://supporter.acast.com/the-owen-jones-podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

1hr

29 Jan 2021

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Episode 9 - Shark Tale and Judith Butler

Blatant Misreading

This is our first Patreon suggested topic! In this episode we look at the POS movie Shark Tale with Judith Butler's Performative Acts and Gender Constitution. This movie was a shitstorm of bad gender and sexuality analogies.  Questions we'll try to answer include how can a shark be vegetarian? Why is Will Smith the only fish who has legs? Why would a fish have legs? Honestly, what is going on with this movie?

43mins

1 Jan 2021

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