Response to Butler’s Essay

In this essay, Butler explores Simone de Beauvoir’s claim that “one is not born, but, rather, becomes a woman”. She uses this phrase to explain that there have always in the past been problems with the definition of a “woman”. Even with feminism, political engagements give way for women to be seen as subjects. Butler clearly states that it is wrong to view women as a group. This is due to the fact that each and every woman has unique abilities from the other. The uniqueness is evident in such divisions as those of class, ethnicity and race. Her explanations are very realistic as women from different settings are different. It is for this reason that Butler affirms that gender should not be as rigid as it is to refer to who we are (Butler 1). It should be a term to explain how we behave in different places at different times. Butler finds a need in the society we are living today to “deconstruct” the thinking on gender. The argument holds water and is very mind stimulating as it looks beyond the normal and usual feminist ideology of “empowerment”.

Butler continues with this argument in an interesting manner to support the point that a woman becomes but is not born. She argues that to identify a woman in terms of her sex is very wrong. For example, when one says that a woman is a person who can give birth, s/he has excluded a large group of women who have either no interest or can naturally not give birth. Also, there are small female children who cannot give birth. It is from this knowledge that the society needs to look at new ways of defining a woman.

Butler’s essay is very interesting because she explains an ideology from a different perspective. The ways she explains how a woman becomes and is not born is very adequate. She gives enough reasons to prove her points and makes one look at a simple thing in a whole different way.



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