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Summary

One of the most talked-about scholarly works of the past 50 years, Judith Butler's Gender Trouble is as celebrated as it is controversial. Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, "essential" notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category "woman" and continues in this vein with examinations of "the masculine" and "the feminine." 

Best known however, but also most often misinterpreted, is Butler's concept of gender as a reiterated social performance rather than the expression of a prior reality. Thrilling and provocative, few other academic works have roused passions to the same extent.

©2006 Routledge (P)2018 Tantor

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Incomprehensible

To be fair to this book, it deals with some complex ideas and difficult concepts so it might be that it was just beyond me. It's also possible that I was unfairly expecting it to be something else.

However, I don't think I could actually tell you what most of the points Butler makes in this book are (let alone how she supports them). The writing is dense and unyielding and (in my opinion) relies on unnecessarily complex constructions.

The book itself is also mainly a textual survey of how other writers ideas can be viewed. Although there is an attempt at synthesis there's no real sense of cultural, social or historical context.

Some ideas were interesting but it was frustrating not to be able to fully follow her arguments and (because of the book's age) aren't as ground-breaking as they might have been when published.

I didn't get a lot out of this but if you're interested in gender there's not a lot to choose from on Amazon.

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  • GayIsGreat
  • 22-03-18

Been wanting for a long time to read Gender Trouble

...but I’m much better at listening than reading. I’ve been hoping Gender Trouble would come out in audio for about 7 years, after trying several times to struggle through print.

Lots of people say the language is difficult. And sure: it’s a book a lot about philosophy. I’ve had to listen through several times, but I find the narration makes it pretty easy. And I feel grateful to finally have the chance to encounter Butler’s words and powerful perspectives.

The one suggestion I would make to audible: please cut it into smaller chunks. The audio is cut into 9 sections, the first 4 mapping to the two prefaces and starts of the first two chapters, and the final 5 mapping to some place in the middle of chapter 2, the starts of chapter 3, ch 3 section 3, ch 3 section 4, and the conclusion. I found it helpful to listen to each section multiple times before moving on, but difficult to do so, given audible’s large audio chunks. It might benefit listeners to cut along each section of a chapter, instead of doing so only at the end.

Please keep ‘em coming, Tantor!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful