What Makes A Man A Woman? Essays

What Makes A Man A Woman? Essays

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What makes a man a man and a woman a woman? According to Judith Butler, there is no innate or biological predisposition from which gender originates. Rather, gender is a “performance…with the strategic aim of maintaining gender within its binary frame…through a stylized repetition of acts” (Butler, 191). Thus, because gender is unrelated to sex, gender performance is not natural, but rather performed in accordance to compulsory heterosexuality. This essay will use Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender celebrity, to prove the inevitability of gender performance, as her transition to womanhood was a conversion from a performance of masculinity to an enactment of femininity.

Central to Butler 's claim is the idea that “the body has no ontological status”; so gender is therefore unrelated to our biological sex (185). Thus, the gender one performs is not natural, but rather constructed by the societal discourses apparent since birth. Caitlyn Jenner, born Bruce with male anatomy, exemplifies the malleability of gender, as despite her yearnings to be a female, she was conditioned to perform masculinity. Moreover, Caitlyn as a young boy gifted at running, was put into track and field, where she trained to become an Olympic decathlon athlete. Caitlyn believed that participating in sports, a stereotypically male activity, reinforced and helped prove her masculinity. She subsequently dressed in “male” clothing, sustained her desires to cross-dress, and worked diligently on maintaining a toned body (Bussinger, 2015). Caitlyn’s, “acts, gestures, enactments… are performative in the sense that the essence or identity that they otherwise purport to express are fabrications” (Butler, 185). While Butler eludes that all identities are fabricated, Caitlyn, ...


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...m neither masculinity or femininity, as many gender neutral individuals do, Jenner’s transition exemplifies that to be considered either male or female, gender performance is essential.

Analyzing Caitlyn Jenner’s adherence to gender stereotypes, both when she was a male and when she was a female, works to demonstrate Butler’s theory of gender performance. Caitlyn therefore calls to question the importance of gender enactment, as she was only considered a true “woman” once she began physically embodying femininity. If for Caitlyn, being considered male or female is left to her discretion, then Butler’s understanding of the disconnect between gender and biology proves to be true. In conclusion, Judith Butler’s work illustrates gender as a compulsory system, where those with a desire for an identifiable sexual orientation must be in a constant state of performance.

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What Makes A Man A Woman? Essays

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