Philosophers / Thinkers

71 Judith Butler Quotes About Life and Gender (LOVE)

Top 9 Most Famous Judith Butler Quotes (BEST)

“When some people rejoin with ‘All Lives Matter’ they misunderstand the problem, but not because their message is untrue. It is true that all lives matter, but it is equally true that not all lives are understood to matter which is precisely why it is most important to name the lives that have not mattered, and are struggling to matter in the way they deserve.”

Judith Butler
Masculine and feminine roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed.
Masculine and feminine roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed.
We lose ourselves in what we read, only to return to ourselves, transformed and part of a more expansive world.
We lose ourselves in what we read, only to return to ourselves, transformed and part of a more expansive world.
Possibility is not a luxury; it is as crucial as bread.
Possibility is not a luxury; it is as crucial as bread.
We form ourselves within the vocabularies that we did not choose, and sometimes we have to reject those vocabularies, or actively develop new ones.
We form ourselves within the vocabularies that we did not choose, and sometimes we have to reject those vocabularies, or actively develop new ones.

Love is not a state, a feeling, a disposition, but an exchange, uneven, fraught with history, with ghosts, with longings that are more or less legible to those who try to see one another with their own faulty vision.”

Judith Butler
All of us, as bodies, are in the active position of figuring out how to live with and against the constructions - or norms - that help to form us.
All of us, as bodies, are in the active position of figuring out how to live with and against the constructions – or norms – that help to form us.
To operate within the matrix of power is not the same as to replicate uncritically relations of domination.
To operate within the matrix of power is not the same as to replicate uncritically relations of domination.
As we interpret ourselves differently, we also live ourselves differently.
As we interpret ourselves differently, we also live ourselves differently.

15 Wise Judith Butler Quotes to Live by (WISDOM)

“When we lose certain people, or when we are dispossessed from a place, or a community, we may simply feel that we are undergoing something temporary, that mourning will be over and some restoration of prior order will be achieved. But maybe when we undergo what we do, something about who we are is revealed, something that delineates the ties we have to others, that shows us that these ties constitute what we are, ties or bonds that compose us. It is not as if an “I” exists independently over here and then simply loses a “you” over there, especially if the attachment to “you” is part of what composes who “I” am. If I lose you, under these conditions, then I not only mourn the loss, but I become inscrutable to myself. Who “am” I, without you? When we lose some of these ties by which we are constituted, we do not know who we are or what to do. On one level, I think I have lost “you” only to discover that “I” have gone missing as well.”

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.
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.

“No matter what someone else has done, it still matters how we treat people. It matters to our humanity that we treat offenders according to standards that we recognize as just. Justice is not revenge – it’s deciding for a solution that is oriented towards peace, peace being the harder but more human way of reacting to injury. That is the very basis of the idea of rights.”

Judith Butler
I do think it's important that we experiment with new vocabularies. That new words help us conceptualize our social existence in a different way.
I do think it’s important that we experiment with new vocabularies. That new words help us conceptualize our social existence in a different way.

“When I was twelve, I was interviewed by a doctoral candidate in education and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said that I either wanted to be a philosopher or a clown, and I understood then, I think, that much depended on whether or not I found the world worth philosophizing about, and what the price of seriousness might be.”

Judith Butler
We act and walk and speak and talk in ways that consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman.
We act and walk and speak and talk in ways that consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman.

“Parody by itself is not subversive, and there must be a way to understand what makes certain kinds of parodic repetitions effectively disruptive, truly troubling, and which repetitions become domesticated and recirculated as instruments of cultural hegemony.”

Judith Butler

“Our notions of what a human being is problematically depend on there being two coherent genders. And if someone doesn’t comply with either the masculine norm or the feminine norm, their very humanness is called into question.”

Judith Butler

“Until we learn that other lives are equally grievable and have an equal demand on us to be grieved – especially the ones that we’ve helped to eliminate – I’m not sure we’ll really be on the way to overcoming the problem of dehumanization.”

Judith Butler
We cannot choose with whom we cohabit the world.
We cannot choose with whom we cohabit the world.

“I think there is a demand. The demand is for a radical economic and political restructuring of the world. And most people would say that’s impossible. And it may or may not be achieved, but I think that’s less important than articulating what a just and fair world can be.”

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

“You will need all of those skills to move forward, affirming this earth, our ethical obligations to live among those who are invariably different from ourselves, to demand recognition for our histories and our struggles at the same time that we lend that to others, to live our passions without causing harm to others, and to know the difference between raw prejudice and distortion, and sound critical judgment.”

Judith Butler
The first step towards nonviolence, which is surely an absolute obligation we all bear, is to begin to think critically, and to ask others to do the same.
The first step towards nonviolence, which is surely an absolute obligation we all bear, is to begin to think critically, and to ask others to do the same.

“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

15 Judith Butler Quotes on Gender and Sexuality

“Gender is not something that one is, it is something one does, an act, a “doing” rather than a “being”. There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very “expressions” that are said to be its results. If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps this construct called ‘sex’ is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it was always already gender, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all.”

Judith Butler
Gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts.
Gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts.

“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 its 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
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.
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.

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

“There is no original or primary gender a drag imitates, but gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original. In fact, it is a kind of imitation that produces the very notion of the original as an effect and consequence of the imitation itself.”

Judith Butler

“That gender is a choice, or that gender is a role, or that gender is a construction that one puts on, as one puts on clothes in the morning, that there is a ‘one’ who is prior to this gender, a one who goes to the wardrobe of gender and decides with deliberation which gender it will be today.”

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

“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

“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

“There is no reason to assume that gender also ought to remain as two. The presumption of a binary gender system implicitly retains the belief in a mimetic relation of gender to sex whereby gender mirrors sex or is otherwise restricted by it.”

Judith Butler

“The effect of gender is produced through the stylization of the body and, hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gestures, movements, and styles of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self. This formulation moves the conception of gender off the ground of a substantial model of identity to one that requires a conception of gender as a constituted social temporality.”

Judith Butler

“If Lacan presumes that female homosexuality issues from a disappointed heterosexuality, as observation is said to show, could it not be equally clear to the observer that heterosexuality issues from a disappointed homosexuality?”

Judith Butler

“As a result, gender is not to culture as sex is to nature; gender is also the discursive/cultural means by which “sexed nature” or “a natural sex” is produced and established as “prediscursive,” prior to culture, a politically neutral surface on which culture acts”.

Judith Butler

13 Judith Butler Quotes on Jews

“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
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.
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.

“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
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.
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.

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

2 Judith Butler Quotes on Obama

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

“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

2 Judith Butler Quotes on Languages

“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

“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

15 Judith Butler Quotes that Will Make You Think

“In the first instance, performativity must be understood not as a singular or deliberate ‘act,’ but, rather, as the reiterative and citational practice by which discourse produces the effects that it names.”

Judith Butler
I think that every sexual position is fundamentally comic.
I think that every sexual position is fundamentally comic.

“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

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

“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
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.
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.

“A phenomenon that gave rise to my first critical insight into the subtle ruse of power: the prevailing law threatened one with trouble, all to keep one out of trouble. Hence, I concluded that trouble is inevitable and the task, how best to make it, what best way to be in it.”

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.
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.

“Bound to seek recognition of its own existence in categories, terms, and names that are not of its own making, the subject seeks the sign of its own existence outside itself, in a discourse that is at once dominant and indifferent. Social categories signify subordination and existence at once. In other words, within subjection the price of existence is subordination.”

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

“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

“Let’s face it. We’re undone by each other. And if we’re not, we’re missing something. If this seems so clearly the case with grief, it is only because it was already the case with desire. One does not always stay intact.”

Judith Butler

“If there is something right in Beauvoir’s claim that one is born, but rather becomes a woman, it follows that woman itself is a term in process, a becoming, a constructing that cannot rightfully be said to originate or to end. As an ongoing discursive practice, it is open to intervention and resignification.”

Judith Butler

(MUST READ) Undoing Gender

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