The Official Blog for ENGL 41416.

Culture and Gender

           “One is not born a woman, but rather becomes one”; Butler claims that the phrase is “odd” and “nonsensical”. I agree with Butler’s beginning point, that culturally we put to much emphasis on gender and those who do not fall into this category are left “outside the human”. Leaving those who feel that God has placed them into the wrong body shunned from our society and viewed as taboo. Our culture imposes gender rules on us from the very beginning by asking if  “is it a girl or boy” and assigning the color pink to a baby girl and blue to a boy. Butler poses a question from the very beginning, “are there ever humans who are not, as it were always already gendered?” I believe that there are people who are not always gendered. For those who are transgender they are stuck between what is “culturally correct”and their own feeling of what their gender is.  In these terms gender goes beyond the body but implies that gender is also a state of mind. 

         This opening phrase is entirely culturally driven which caused me to think about many coming of age ceremonies such as; a quinceanera and a bar mitzvah, and many phrases such as; “a girl becomes a woman once she has a child” or “or a woman becomes a mother once she becomes pregnant while a man becomes a father upon seeing his child born”. Each of the ceremonies mentioned are transitions for a child to become an adult and each phrase represents a cultural accomplishment which Beauvoir means. As Butler states, ” Beauvoir, of course, meant merely to suggest that the category of women is a variable cultural accomplishment, a set of meanings that are taken on or taken up within the cultural filed, that no one is born with a gender–gender is acquired”. 

     The importance of gender and being defined as either male or female is “odd” since once we are in our mothers wombs we are “female”. It isn’t until later that the male hormone kicks in and his gentiles appear. Something that is mentioned later on in the piece when Butler presents Wittig’s second argument that lesbians are not woman. ” Wittig understands sex to be discursively produced and circulated by a system of significant oppressive to women, gays and lesbians”.


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