Abstract

It is the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Gender Trouble by the feminist philosopher of gender, sexuality, and governmentality, Judith Butler. When Gender Trouble came out in the United States, it hit the stands like a hit; it transformed and unraveled the modalities through which ontologies and epistemologies of gender came to be. This was especially the case with the trouble, the disturbances, the turbulence that Gender Trouble carried along with it. Gender Trouble's thematics sometimes syncopated against familiar habits of belief that were and are carefully nursed and held to one's heart, upending them in sometimes unexpected ways. The concept of “performativity,” for instance, generated a buzz, partly because it unhinged and reoriented several fail-safe, deeply felt materialized beliefs, such as the ontological immutability of gender cohering resolutely and unremittingly in and through an inveterate notion of the biological (belief certainty in the sense that the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein might intend as the unnoticed grounding of one's sense of and use of language itself laid in so deeply that it disappeared from immediate purchase). Gender Trouble also asked us to address the seemingly intransigent separations between interiority and exteriority and the obdurate artifice of an “interior core” (psyche, soul, etc.), which, because it was constituted as a priori, meant that people believed it lay beyond being touched or constituted by any social, economic, or political exigencies, “regulations,” or “disciplinary practices” and thus “preclude[d] an analysis of the political constitution of the gendered subject.”

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