Judith Butler sets up an interesting analysis of the body and what possible gender constructs define it; She is all the while really questioning if it is in fact, the boundaries of the body that define gender (at least that is how I understood it). Through her research, she is able to reveal how historical influences are able to mold perception of body, thus tying in the idea of a culture influenced gender (and slightly re-visiting the ideas of the nature /culture binary discussed in Orton’s essay). “Within the metaphoric of this notion of cultural values is the figure of history as the relentless writing instrument, and the body as the medium which must be destroyed and transfigured in order for “culture” to emerge” (FT 435).
Additionally, Butler also discusses how understanding the physical limitations of the body can then give room to analyze the the gender performatives that are outwardly expresssed. I found that part of her essay to be particularly interesting because it forces us to think about how and why we carry out specific behaviors. It’s actually confusing to think that expressions are or could be manifestations of a gender identity that we are trying to hide, as Butler discusses, “…acts, gestures, and desire produce…this on the surface on the surface of the body…but never reveal, the organizing principle of identity as a cause” (FT438). When these actions are closely considered, we are left to catagorize behaviors and then impart the nature/ cultural standards of gender, which would be exclusive.
I can partially understand what Wittig argues about , where gender can be seen “…as the workings of sex.” But at the same time it also complicates the issue of our bodies being seen as a curltural sign when we are considering those who do not conform to the inner and outter bounds of the body due to performative expression that would render a different appearance or essence (as with Newton’s study). Butler is right to say that “…gender should not be construed as a stable identity…” (FT441). As society continues to change and adopt new ways of thinking, its important to redefine gender roles. Although I still feel your sex is either male or female regardless of performaitve expression, there should be serious discussion on how gender is to be understood…or just agree to disagree that is incredibly ambiguous.