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A collection of quotes and sayings by Judith Butler on love, gender, clothing, doubt, act, gender-roles, sex, identity, freedom, violence, gay, lesbian, rights and movement

51 Famous Quotes By Judith Butler That Challenge Conventional Notions

Quick Facts

Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Sociologist, Literary critic, Feminist, Journalist

Born On: February 24, 1956

Born In: Cleveland

Judith Butler is an eminent American gender theorist and philosopher. Her works, thoughts and writings have influenced literary theory, ethics, queer, fields of third-wave feminist, and philosophy. Some of her notable works include, ‘Bodies That Matter: On The Discursive Limits of Sex,’ ‘Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity,’ amongst various others. In these books she has challenged the traditional impressions of gender and has also developed her theory of ‘gender performativity’. Her works, theories, writings and thoughts have had a huge impact on queer and feminist scholarship. She has been vocal about her views, thoughts and opinions on subjects close to her heart, including the lesbian and gay rights movement. She has also expressed her thoughts and viewpoints on several contemporary political issues. Zoom through the quotes and sayings by Judith Butler. Take a look at the famous, inspiring, motivating and thought-provoking quotes and thoughts by Judith Butler.

We lose ourselves in what we read, only to return to ourselves, transformed and part of a more expansive world.

Judith Butler

There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender... identity is performatively constituted by the very 'expressions' that are said to be its results.

Judith Butler

When we say gender is performed, we usually mean that we've taken on a role or we're acting in some way and that our acting or our role playing is crucial to the gender that we are and the gender that we present to the world.

Judith Butler

Masculine and feminine roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed.

Judith Butler

We act as if that being of a man or that being of a woman is actually an internal reality or something that is simply true about us, a fact about us, but actually it's a phenomenon that is being produced all the time and reproduced all the time, so to say gender is performative is to say that nobody really is a gender from the start.

Judith Butler

To say that gender is performative is a little different because for something to be performative means that it produces a series of effects. We act and walk and speak and talk in ways that consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman.

Judith Butler

It's my view that gender is culturally formed, but it's also a domain of agency or freedom and that it is most important to resist the violence that is imposed by ideal gender norms, especially against those who are gender different, who are nonconforming in their gender presentation.

Judith Butler

There is no original or primary gender a drag imitates, but gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original.

Judith Butler

A man who reads effeminate may well be consistently heterosexual, and another one might be gay. We can't read sexuality off of gender.

Judith Butler

I think we won't be able to understand the operations of trans-phobia, homophobia, if we don't understand how certain kinds of links are forged between gender and sexuality in the minds of those who want masculinity to be absolutely separate from femininity and heterosexuality to be absolutely separate from homosexuality.

Judith Butler

I am much more open about categories of gender, and my feminism has been about women's safety from violence, increased literacy, decreased poverty and more equality.

Judith Butler

I think that every sexual position is fundamentally comic.

Judith Butler

Possibility is not a luxury; it is as crucial as bread.

Judith Butler

Sexual harassment law is very important. But I think it would be a mistake if the sexual harassment law movement is the only way in which feminism is known in the media.

Judith Butler

Race and class are rendered distinct analytically only to produce the realization that the analysis of the one cannot proceed without the other. A different dynamic it seems to me is at work in the critique of new sexuality studies.

Judith Butler

I would say that I'm a feminist theorist before I'm a queer theorist or a gay and lesbian theorist.

Judith Butler

Life has to be protected. It is precarious. I would even go so far as to say that precarious life is, in a way, a Jewish value for me.

Judith Butler

I don't think we have to have a personal relation to a life lost to understand that something terrible has taken place, especially in the context of war.

Judith Butler

As a Jew, I was taught that it was ethically imperative to speak up and to speak out against arbitrary state violence. That was part of what I learned when I learned about the Second World War and the concentration camps.

Judith Butler

Honestly, what can really be said about 'the Jewish people' as a whole? Is it not a lamentable stereotype to make large generalizations about all Jews, and to presume they all share the same political commitments?

Judith Butler

In the earliest years of the AIDS crisis, there were many gay men who were unable to come out about the fact that their lovers were ill, A, and then dead, B. They were unable to get access to the hospital to see their lover, unable to call their parents and say, 'I have just lost the love of my life.'

Judith Butler

Identifying Israel with Jewry obscures the existence of the small but important post-Zionist movement in Israel, including the philosophers Adi Ophir and Anat Biletzki, the sociologist Uri Ram, the professor of theatre Avraham Oz and the poet Yitzhak Laor.

Judith Butler

The principle of academic freedom is designed to make sure that powers outside the university, including government and corporations, are not able to control the curriculum or intervene in extra-mural speech.

Judith Butler

Obama's failure to close Guantanamo is yet another instance where the rhetoric of democratic and constitutional rights proved not useful for his international relations, relations which are always pursued in ways that continue to link and fortify securitarian power with the opening of new markets.

Judith Butler

It will not do to say that international law is the enemy of the Jewish people, since the Jewish people surely did not as a whole oppose the Nuremburg trials, or the development of human rights law.

Judith Butler

I'm a professor of comparative literature, among other things, so I'm able to read in a couple of other languages, and I understand that not everyone is, not everyone can, although it is quite stunning how many people do read Spanish in the United States, but moving between languages is also extremely helpful.

Judith Butler

Only if we accept the proposition that the state of Israel is the exclusive and legitimate representative of the Jewish people would a movement calling for divestment, sanctions and boycott against that state be understood as directed against the Jewish people as a whole.

Judith Butler

Let's face it. We're undone by each other. And if we're not, we're missing something.

Judith Butler

You only trust those who are absolutely like yourself, those who have signed a pledge of allegiance to this particular identity.

Judith Butler

To operate within the matrix of power is not the same as to replicate uncritically relations of domination.

Judith Butler

The argument that all Jews have a heartfelt investment in the state of Israel is untrue. Some have a heartfelt investment in corned beef sandwiches.

Judith Butler

Cameras help to minimize collateral damage, and very often, without a camera a missile cannot fire. Certainly, without a camera a drone can't function, which means that the very ways in which we wage war are determined in part by how cameras work and whether they work at all.

Judith Butler

It seems, though, that historically we have now reached a position in which Jews cannot legitimately be understood always and only as presumptive victims.

Judith Butler

Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements.

Judith Butler

The point is not to stay marginal, but to participate in whatever network of marginal zones is spawned from other disciplinary centers and which, together, constitute a multiple displacement of those authorities.

Judith Butler

There is a new venue for theory, necessarily impure, where it emerges in and as the very event of cultural translation. This is not the displacement of theory by historicism, nor a simple historicization of theory that exposes the contingent limits of its more generalizable claims.

Judith Butler

When one set of Jews labels another set of Jews 'anti-Semitic,' they are trying to monopolize the right to speak in the name of the Jews. So the allegation of anti-Semitism is actually a cover for an intra-Jewish quarrel.

Judith Butler

When Zionism becomes co-extensive with Jewishness, Jewishness is pitted against the diversity that defines democracy, and if I may say so, betrays one of the most important ethical dimensions of the diasporic Jewish tradition: namely, the obligation of co-habitation with those different from ourselves.

Judith Butler

My parents were practicing Jews. My mother grew up in an orthodox synagogue, and after my grandfather died, she went to a conservative synagogue and a little later ended up in a reform synagogue. My father was in reform synagogues from the beginning.

Judith Butler

What is most important is to cease legislating for all lives what is liveable only for some, and similarly, to refrain from proscribing for all lives what is unlivable for some.

Judith Butler

I grew very skeptical of certain kind of Jewish separatism in my youth. I mean, I saw the Jewish community was always with each other; they didn't trust anybody outside. You'd bring someone home, and the first question was, 'Are they Jewish, are they not Jewish?'

Judith Butler

Obama was late to affirm the Egyptian revolution as a democratic movement, and even then he was eager to have installed those military leaders who were known for their practices of torture.

Judith Butler

A challenge to the right of Israel to exist can be construed as a challenge to the existence of the Jewish people only if one believes that Israel alone keeps the Jewish people alive or that all Jews invest their sense of perpetuity in the state of Israel in its current or traditional forms.

Judith Butler

...laughter emerges in the realization that all along the original was derived.

Judith Butler

The violence of language consists in its effort to capture the ineffable and, hence, to destroy it, to seize hold of that which must remain elusive for language to operate as a living thing.

Judith Butler

Do we need recourse to a happier state before the law in order to maintain that contemporary gender relations and the punitive production of gender identities are oppressive?

Judith Butler

Lacanian theory must be understood as a kind of “slave morality.

Judith Butler

I'm no great fan of the phallus, and have made my own views known on this subject before, so I do not propose a return to a notion of the phallus as the third term in any and all relations of desire.

Judith Butler

The effort to identify the enemy as singular in form is a reverse-discourse that uncritically mimics the strategy of the oppressor instead of offering a different set of terms.

Judith Butler

Learning the rules that govern intelligible speech is an inculcation into normalized language, where the price of not conforming is the loss of intelligibility itself.

Judith Butler

Precariousness and precarity are intersecting concepts. Lives are by definition precarious: they can be expunged at will or by accident; their persistence is in no sense guaranteed

Judith Butler