Women want sex Butler

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Gender Roles in the Future? She argued that gender, rather than being an essential quality following from biological sex, or an inherent identity, is an act which grows out of, reinforces, and is reinforced by, societal norms and creates the illusion of binary sex. Finally, we suggest a of concrete ways in which experimental social psychologists can incorporate notions of gender performativity and gender trouble into the ways in which they research gender.

Key to her argument is that gender is not an essential, biologically determined quality or an inherent identity, but is repeatedly performed , based on, and reinforced by, societal norms. This repeated performance of gender is also performative , that is, it creates the idea of gender itself, as well as the illusion of two natural, essential sexes. In other words, rather than being women or men, individuals act as women and men, thereby creating the of women and men. Moreover, they face clear negative consequences if they fail to do their gender right.

What we social psychologists might call gender norms and stereotypes e. Minton argued that queer theory more broadly, which challenges the binary, heteronormative system of sex and gender, should inform psychological theory and practice. However, despite these calls for gender trouble over 20 years ago, we believe that social psychology, and experimental social psychology in particular, has yet to truly step up and answer the call. Thus, we argue that there is great value in again promoting the ideas Butler puts forward in Gender Trouble to social psychologists.

We will then discuss the extent to which her work fits with different conceptualizations of gender in the social psychological literature, with a focus on experimental social psychology. In her book Gender Trouble Butler argues that within Western culture, sex, gender, and sexual orientation are viewed as closely linked, essential qualities. The prevalent view is that biological sex is binary male vs. In other words, there is a belief that a baby born with a penis will grow up to identify and act as a man — whatever that means in a specific culture — and, as part of this gender role, be sexually attracted to women.

Similarly, there is a belief that a baby born with a vagina will grow up to identify and act as a woman and, as part of this gender role, be sexually attracted to men. This societal view of gender is also reflected in the works of many feminist writers, who define sex as biological and gender as cultural see Gould, , for a review and critical discussion. Butler criticizes this distinction between sex — as natural, essential, and pre-discursive i. She argues that it is not just gender that is culturally constructed and has prescriptive and proscriptive qualities, but that this also applies to sex as a binary category.

Indeed, even biologists, who traditionally view the body as natural and pre-discursive, increasingly argue that a binary view of human sex is overly simplistic and that sex should be viewed as a spectrum rather than a dichotomy, in terms of anatomical, hormonal, and even cellular sex see Fausto-Sterling, ; Ainsworth, see also Fausto-Sterling, For example, the majority of babies born with intersex characteristics undergo surgery and are raised as either male or female Human Rights Watch, , protecting and maintaining the binary construction of sex.

To be clear, Butler does not argue that biological processes do not exist or do not affect differences in hormones or anatomy. Rather, she argues that bodies do not exist outside of cultural interpretation and that this interpretation in over-simplified, binary views of sex. The two sexes only appear natural, obvious, and important to us because of the gendered world in which we live.

More specifically, the repeated performance of two polar, opposite genders makes the existence of two natural, inherent, pre-discursive sexes seem plausible. In other words, Butler views gender as a performance in which we repeatedly engage and which creates the illusion of binary sex.

She argues:. Gender is, thus, a construction that regularly conceals its genesis. The tacit collective agreement to perform, produce, and sustain discrete and polar genders as cultural fictions is obscured by the credibility of its own production. Thus, for Butler, gender is neither essential nor biologically determined, but rather it is created by its own performance and hence it is performative.

Butler builds on this work by exploring how gender works in a similar way — gender is created by its own performance. However, as this binary performance of gender is almost ubiquitous, its performative nature is concealed. The binary performance of gender is further reinforced by the reactions of others to those who fail to adhere to gender norms. This punishment includes the oppression of women and the stigmatization and marginalization of those who violate the gender binary, either by disrupting the pd link between sex and gender e.

These negative reactions and the binary performance of gender, Butler argues, do not exist by chance. Instead, they serve as tools of a system of power structures which is trying to reproduce and sustain itself — namely a patriarchal system of compulsory heterosexuality in which women serve as a means of reproduction to men, as their mothers and wives. These power structures are both prohibitive i. By arguing that gender is not something one is , but rather something one does or performs , Butler argues that gender identity is not based on some inner truth, but instead a by-product of repeated gender performance.

Framing gender identity as an inherent part of the self, as many feminist writers did at the time and indeed still do , she argues, reinforces the gender binary and in turn plays into the hands of the patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality. This argument has particular relevance to the notion of gender identity. As such, it has been criticized as invalidating transgender individuals, whose experience of a true inner gender identity that is not in line with the sex they were ased at birth is often questioned.

This is despite the fact that from a young age transgender individuals view themselves in terms of their expressed gender, both explicitly and implicitly, mirroring self-views of cis -gender 2 children Olson et al. Butler has responded to these criticisms repeatedly. For example, answering a question about what is most often misunderstood about her theory in an interview in , she replies:. My view is actually not that. She points out that abandoning the idea of gender as an identity does not take away the potential of agency on behalf of women.

Instead, it opens up the possibility of agency, which other approaches that view identity as fixed and stable do not enable. The fact that identity is constructed means that it is neither completely arbitrary and free, nor completely determined, leaving room for re-structuring, subversion, and for disrupting the status quo. Indeed, we would argue that feminism becomes more powerful as an inclusive movement for gender equality more broadly defined, not just equality between women and men.

In conclusion, Butler argues that we, as a society, need to create gender trouble by disrupting the gender binary to dismantle the oppressive system of patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality. Gender has been an increasingly important focus within psychology more generally, and in social psychology in particular e. While there is considerable variation in how psychologists view and treat gender, we argue that many of approaches fall into one of three traditions: 1 evolutionary approaches which view binary, biological sex as the determinant of gender and gender differences; 2 social structural approaches which view societal forces such as status and social roles as the determinant of gender stereotypes and, in turn, gender differences; and, not mutually exclusive from a social structural approach; 3 social identity approaches which view gender as one out of many social with which individuals identify to varying degrees.

In addition, integrative approaches draw on more than one of these traditions, as well as developmental, social cognitive, and sociological models of gender, and integrate them to explain gendered behavior. Evolutionary approaches to the psychology of gender maintain that gender differences are, for the most part, genetic — resulting from the different adaptive problems faced by women and men in their evolutionary past see Byrd-Craven and Geary, , particularly due to reproductive differences such as paternal uncertainty for men and higher parental investment for women.

These differences, it is argued, then shaped our genes — and gender differences — through sexual selection i. Thereby, essentialism, and the resultant stereotypes and prejudice, contribute to the reinforcement of the status quo. First, it treats sex as a pre-discursive binary fact rather than a cultural construct. In other words, it ignores variability in chromosomes, genitals, and hormones Fausto-Sterling, ; Ainsworth, and views binary sex — and gender — as an inherent, essential quality.

Moreover, evolutionary approaches argue that gender follows from sex and thus portray binary sex as an explanation for, rather than a result of, gender differences i. In addition to ignoring the existence of intersex individuals, these approaches also often ignore homosexuality, focusing exclusively on heterosexual desires and reproduction. Thus, we would argue, such evolutionary approaches play into the patriarchal system of compulsory heterosexuality in which women function primarily as mothers and wives.

Such approaches argue that societal structures such as social roles and differences in power and status determine gender stereotypes, which affect both gendered behavior as well as reactions to those who deviate from gender stereotypes. The social psychological literature provides many empirical examples of these negative consequences. For example, Rudman and colleagues describe how those who deviate from their scripts often encounter backlash in the form of economic and social penalties for a review see Rudman et al.

This backlash discourages individuals from engaging in stereotype-incongruent behavior as they avoid negative consequences in the future, reducing their potential to act as deviating role models for others. Moreover, witnessing the backlash gender troublemakers encounter may also vicariously discourages others from breaking gender stereotypes to avoid negative consequences for themselves. The literature on precarious manhood further suggests that these issues might be particularly pronounced for men Bosson et al.

Research demonstrates that men must continuously prove their masculinity by avoiding anything deemed feminine to avoid negative consequences such as loss of status. First, they tend not to take non-binary gender into , and the empirical research tends to operationalize men and women as disjunct . Although research focusing on how intra-gender variability is often much larger than between gender variability e. Moreover, these approaches also rarely take issues of intersectionality into see Shields, and focus on stereotypes of white, heterosexual, middle-class, cis women and men, although there are some notable exceptions e.

Approaches from the social identity and self-categorization tradition Tajfel and Turner, ; Turner et al. These social identities can be based on meaningful social such as gender or occupation, but also in response to random allocation to seemingly meaningless groups.

These studies demonstrate that identities can form on the basis of completely irrelevant, artificial and are thus by no means inherent nor inevitable. Thus, while in our given society, these identities are considered to be largely binary, this is not inevitable and likely the result of social forces. Lastly, integrative approaches draw on more than one of these traditions as well as developmental, social cognitive, and sociological models of gender.

For example, social role theory has developed over time, integrating biological as well as social identity aspects into its framework, resulting in a biosocial approach Eagly and Wood, More specifically, more recent versions of the theory argue that the division of labor le to gendered behavior via three different mechanisms: 1 social regulation as described above , 2 identity-based regulation, similar to the processes outlined by social identity theory, and 3 biological regulation through hormonal processes such as changes in testosterone and oxytocin.

Importantly, these processes interact with one another, that is, hormonal responses are dependent on expectations from others and gender identity. Another influential integrative approach is the interactive model of gender-related behavior Deaux and Major, Rather than focusing on distal factors which affect gender stereotypes, this model focuses on the situational and contextual factors which result in gendered behavior. The model assumes that the performance of gender primarily takes place in social interactions and serves specific social purposes. Gendered behavior thus emerges based on the expectations held by the perceiver, such as stereotypes, schemata, and knowledge about the specific target; the target themselves e.

Similar to Butler, it focuses on the doing of gender, that is, on gendered behavior and its emergence in social interactions. Moreover, the model takes a more social cognitive approach, referring to gendered self-schemata rather than gender identities. Thus, while retaining the context dependence of gendered behavior inherent in social identity approaches, this model does not necessarily p gender as a social identity in terms of men and women. In contrast to all other models discussed above, this model allows for a less binary, more fluid understanding of gender.

The work of social psychologists operating outside of the experimental framework is more compatible in this regard. More specifically, discourse analysts argue that the self, including the gendered self, is created through language e. For example, researchers conducting feminist conversation analysis have examined how patterns in the delivery of naturally occurring speech reproduce heteronormative gender e. In the section, we have outlined how some of the issues raised by Butler, such as the negative reactions to those who fail to do their gender right, have already received considerable attention in the social psychological literature.

Other aspects of her argument, however, have received very little attention and hold the potential for interesting future research. Based on predictions derived from social role theory Eagly, , we would indeed expect that a decrease in the performance of gender as binary i. On the other hand, as gender identity is very central to the self-image of many people Ryan and David, , challenging ideas about gender may be perceived as threatening.

Social identity theory and self-categorization theory Tajfel and Turner, ; Turner et al. If this distinctiveness is threatened, highly identified men and women are likely to enhance the contrast between their ingroup and the outgroup, for example by presenting themselves in a more gender stereotypical way and applying stereotypes to the other group Branscombe et al. These identity processes may thus reinforce a system of two distinct genders with opposing traits, and further punish and alienate those who fail to conform to gender norms and stereotypes.

Future research needs to investigate the circumstances under which gender trouble can indeed lead to less binary views of gender, and the circumstances under which it does not. This needs to include identifying the psychological mechanisms and barriers involved in such change. Importantly, this investigation should go beyond examining reactions to women and men who behave in counter-stereotypical ways, such as women in leadership positions or stay-at-home fathers, and include a focus on more radical challenges to the gender binary such as non-binary and trans individuals or drag performers.

Butler discusses drag as an example of gender trouble in detail, quoting the anthropologist Newton in her observations of how drag subverts notions of gender. At the same time, however, it appears that the outside appearance i. Butler further argues that the exaggeration of femininity in the case of drag queens and masculinity in the case of drag kings in drag performances highlights the performative nature of gendered behaviors, that is, how gender is created through gendered performance.

On the other hand, we would argue that because drag performances often draw heavily on gender stereotypes, they may also reinforce the idea of what it means to be a man or a woman. To our knowledge, there is no psychological research on how drag affects perceptions of gender, but as drag becomes more and more accessible to a wider, and more mainstream, audience e.

Does drag indeed highlight the performative nature of gender or does it simply reinforce stereotypes? Are reactions to appearance-based disruptions of the gender binary different to behavior-based ones such as reactions to assertive women or submissive men? Another potential line of research to pursue would be to build on the discursive literature by examining the performative nature of gender from an experimental social psychological perspective, testing how gender is created through speech and behavior.

Drawing on some of the findings from qualitative psychological research discussed in the section might be helpful in developing predictions and quantitatively testable hypotheses. Finally, if gender trouble is indeed effective in challenging binary, essentialist views of sex and gender, it is worth investigating how disruptive gender performance can be encouraged and used as a means of collective action. The literature on collective action to achieve gender equality has often drawn on gender identity-based ideas of mobilization e. How then can we inclusively mobilize others to engage in collective action without drawing on gender identities and inadvertently reinforcing the gender binary — and with it the patriarchal system of compulsory heterosexuality it supports?

We agree with these arguments but further suggest that collective action research should examine how individuals of any gender can a be motivated to engage in collective action to achieve gender equality generally, and b be motivated to engage in gender trouble and disrupt binary notions of gender as a form of collective action. There is also the potential for gender researchers to engage in gender trouble themselves by changing the way in which they treat gender.

For the most part, experimental psychologists have tended to examine gender as a predictor or independent variable — examining gender differences in all manner of social, cognitive, and clinical measures e. Indeed, as researchers, we the authors are guilty of publishing many papers using this methodology e. Similar to performative speech acts, we would argue that this can be seen as a performative research practice. The way in which we conduct our research and the choices we make in relation to gender creating the very construct that is studied, namely gender and gender differences.

Our assumptions of gender as binary, pre-discursive, and natural produces research that focuses on binary, categorical gender as a predictor of gendered attitudes and behavior. However, to our knowledge, there is very little quantitative or experimental research, that looks at the psychological processes implicated in the performance of gender, that is, treating gender as an outcome or dependent variable.

If experimental social psychologists are to contribute to gender trouble, we should shift our views away from sex and gender as causes for behavior and psychological outcomes i. Instead, we should treat gender — whether measured as an identity, in terms of self-stereotyping, as simple self-categorization — as a result of societal and psychological forces.

Rather than asking what sex and gender can explain, we need to look at what explains sex and gender. Moreover, while the literature acknowledges that gender salience and gender self-stereotyping vary depending on context e. If, however, we view gender as a performance, then we must also view gender as an act, a behavior, which changes depending on context and audience.

Women want sex Butler

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Reflections of Butler’s Female Gender and Sexual Performativity in Vonnegut