Susan Stryker's Critique Of Gender Identity

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Susan Stryker’s issues with this theory of performativity are that she believes that by Butler arguing against gender as a fixed quality of our being, she is treating gender as if it were some totally flexible choice of a cherry-picking subject. Stryker mentions in (De)subjugated Knowledges, multiple criticisms of Butler’s work. Critiquing Butler on the basis of “the self-understanding of many transgender people, who consider their sense of gendered self not to be subject to their instrumental will, not divestible, not a form of play” (10). Stryker’s critiques of gender are more nuanced because she views transgender identities as a means of challenging the fact that no one can accurately make an ontological claim about their gender identity. …show more content…
It is the issue of whether or not this performance makes gender “real” that the two of them disagree on. As I mentioned earlier, to Butler, performative means that an action exists by the very fact of its occurrence. Butler seems to ignore that because it has been reiterated and believed that gender exists inherently within one’s self, gender does then exist inherently within one’s self. For it is up to the subjective individual to determine whether or not their gender exists within themselves. This is because, as Stryker would argue, gender is unavoidably subjective. “It’s a girl!” determining the existence of this child as a girl, and in parallel structure, “gender exists intrinsically within our identity” and so it does. Stryker writes, “to say that gender is a performative act is to say that it does not need a material referent to be meaningful, is directed at others in an attempt to communicate, is not subject to falsification or verification, and is accomplished by "doing" something rather than "being" something” (10). The criterion for being a woman does not include any stereotypical femme attributes, it is merely someone who says she is a woman. Butler might argue that to be a woman one would have to fall under societies idea of what it means to be a woman. The physical form determines absolutely nothing about gender identity, it merely provides a corporeal platform in which one can display their performative gender. Butler, surely, understands the importance of gender identity and the reality of gender within society. Stryker’s issue with Butler, however, is that her language is not beneficial for trans identities who seek to highlight the significance of the authenticity of their experience as one gender. It also fails to legitimize transgender people who are “non-passing” and therefore do not abide by the rules assigned to either gender in the binary. Butler does seem keen to the idea of

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