65 Judith Butler Quotes On Success In Life

Judith Pamela Butler is an American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy, ethics, and the fields of third-wave feminist, queer, and literary theory. In 1993, Butler began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, where they have served, beginning in 1998, as the Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory. They are also the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School. These Judith Butler quotes will motivate you.

Best Judith Butler Quotes

  1. “Masculine and feminine roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed.” ~ Judith Butler
  2. “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 always already gendered, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all.” ~ Judith Butler
  3. “Gender is not something that one is, it is something one does, an act… a doing rather than a being.” ~ Judith Butler

  4. “We form ourselves within the vocabularies that we did not choose, and sometimes we have to reject those vocabularies, or actively develop new ones.” ~ Judith Butler
  5. “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
  6. “We lose ourselves in what we read, only to return to ourselves, transformed and part of a more expansive world.” ~ Judith Butler
  7. “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.” ~ Judith Butler
  8. “Possibility is not a luxury; it is as crucial as bread.” ~ Judith Butler

  9. “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
  10. “… 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
  11. “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
  12. “We act and walk and speak and talk in ways that consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman.” ~ Judith Butler

  13. “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
  14. “To operate within the matrix of power is not the same as to replicate uncritically relations of domination.” ~ Judith Butler
  15. “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
  16. “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
  17. “As we interpret ourselves differently, we also live ourselves differently.” ~ Judith Butler

  18. “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.” ~ Judith Butler
  19. “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
  20. “All of those who inhabit the world have a right to be here by virtue of their being here at all. To be here means you have a right to be here.” ~ Judith Butler

  21. “Gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts.” ~ Judith Butler
  22. “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
  23. “Indeed it may be only by risking the incoherence of identity that connection is possible.” ~ Judith Butler
  24. “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
  25. “We cannot choose with whom we cohabit the world.” ~ Judith Butler

  26. “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
  27. “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
  28. “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
  29. “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
  30. “Photography has a relation to intervention, but photographing is not the same as an intervening.” ~ Judith Butler

  31. “I think we are affected by others in all kinds of ways. I do understand what it’s like to wish to control the conditions under which we can be affected by other human beings, but none of us really are.” ~ Judith Butler
  32. “You’re an evolving and transforming person, right? And how do we capture that dynamics of sexuality in that complex sense? There may be times when someone feels oneself more overly masculine or maybe more feminine, or where the terms themselves become confused, where passivity and activity also don’t maintain their usual meaning.” ~ Judith Butler
  33. “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

  34. “When we say gender is performed, we usually mean that weve taken on a role or were 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
  35. “We have to be able track the ways in which fear, for instance, is monopolised by state and media institutions, ways in which fear is actually promoted and distributed as a way of bolstering the need for greater security and militarisation.” ~ Judith Butler
  36. “I think we need a politics that allows us to risk what is intelligible. To be maybe slightly unintelligible, too be slightly “illisible”. To take the risk of suggesting that the human form might take another form.” ~ Judith Butler
  37. “Revenge tries to solve the problem of vulnerability. If I strike back, I transfer vulnerability from myself to the other. And yet by striking back I produce a world in which my vulnerability to injury is increased by the likelihood of another strike. So it seems as if I’m getting rid of my vulnerability and instead locating it with the other, but actually I’m heightening the vulnerability of everyone and I’m heightening the possibility of violence that happens between us.” ~ Judith Butler
  38. “If we are looking for signs of democratization, then surely we are looking as well for forms of living on equal terms in and among cultural differences.” ~ Judith Butler

  39. “Peace is a certain resistance to the terrible satisfactions of war. It’s a commitment to living with a certain kind of vulnerability to others and susceptibility to being wounded that actually gives our individual lives meaning.” ~ Judith Butler
  40. “I do not deny certain kinds of biological differences. But I always ask under what conditions, under what discursive and institutional conditions, do certain biological differences – and they’re not necessary ones, given the anomalous state of bodies in the world – become the salient characteristics of sex.” ~ Judith Butler
  41. “I think we have to accept a wide variety of positions on gender. Some want to be gender-free, but others want to be free really to be a gender that is crucial to who they are.” ~ Judith Butler
  42. “I must say, I feel the reception of my work is none of my business.” ~ Judith Butler

  43. “If we are trying to account for mobilization, we have to ask, under what conditions do outraged forms of knowing lead to social mobilizations and movements? So awareness alone does not suffice, and neither does outrage.” ~ Judith Butler
  44. “I think something happens only when people find that they are moved with others, find themselves linked or allied in new ways, showing up or speaking out in ways that resonate with one another. That resonating can be very compelling and lead to moving and speaking more emphatically and with sharper focus.” ~ Judith Butler
  45. “Whether or not we continue to enforce a universal conception of human rights at moments of outrage and incomprehension, precisely when we think that others have taken themselves out of the human community as we know it, is a test of our very humanity.” ~ Judith Butler

  46. “Not all bodies are born in male or female. There is a continuum of bodies and it seems to me that trying to persuade medical and psychiatrist establishments to deal with the intersex involves critique of the binary gender system. Similarly there continues to be extreme, sometimes very extreme violence against transgender people.” ~ Judith Butler
  47. “Some Israeli politicians have proposed the transfer of Palestinians out of what is currently called Israel, either into the occupied territories, into Jordan or out into other Arab lands, with the idea that there would be no intermixing of Palestinian and Jewish Israelis or Palestinian and Jewish communities. But the idea of an absolute segregation is one that I find lamentable.” ~ Judith Butler
  48. “What we need are poems that interrogate the world of pronouns, open up possibilities of language and life; forms of politics that support and encourage self-affirmation.” ~ Judith Butler

  49. “Maybe one of the jobs of theory or philosophy is to elevate principles that seem impossible, or that have the status of the impossible, to stand by them and will them, even when it looks highly unlikely that they’ll ever be realised. But that’s ok, it’s a service.” ~ Judith Butler quotes
  50. “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
  51. “Where is democratic process or popular sovereignty for the endangered population? It cannot be “given” or “allocated” by some other power without that same power claiming the right to withdraw what it gives.” ~ Judith Butler

  52. “We have to find a way of understanding how one category of sex can be “assigned” from both and another sense of sex can lead us to resist and reject that sex assignment. How do we understand that second sense of sex? It is not the same as the first – it is not an assignment that others give us. But maybe it is an assignment we give ourselves? If so, do we not need a world of others, linguistic practices, social institutions, and political imaginaries in order to move forward to claim precisely those categories we require, and to reject those that work against us?” ~ Judith Butler
  53. “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

  54. “Everyone has a set of presuppositions: what gender is, what it’s not. And they may not write them out or they may not be in theoretical books published by Routledge, but they have a theory.” ~ Judith Butler
  55. “Genocide is not a legitimate option. It’s not ok to decide that an entire population has no right to live in the world. No matter whether these relationships are very proximate or very distant, there is no entitlement to expunge a population or to demean its basic humanity.” ~ Judith Butler
  56. “Indeed, it would be great if we could all be liberated through reason, but I think it only gets us part of the way. After all, someone may have a very logical view, but for other reasons we may still fail to hear what that person says, or we may turn their words around so that they are understood to say the opposite. The task is really to find ways of addressing deep-seated forms of fear and aggression that make it possible to hold to manifestly inconsistent views without quite acknowledging them.” ~ Judith Butler
  57. “War begets war. It produces outraged and humiliated and furious people. That is almost invariably the case.” ~ Judith Butler

  58. “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
  59. “It is true that non-governmental organizations working within strong human rights frameworks are now confounded by securitarian forms of logic and power that extend the paternalistic bias of their work in new ways.” ~ Judith Butler
  60. “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

  61. “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
  62. “Let’s face it. We’re undone by each other. And if we’re not, we’re missing something.” ~ Judith Butler
  63. “One of the things that neoliberalism does is, it relies on flexible workforces who are hired and fired at will and who are basically disposable labor. You can use them. You can get rid of them. They have no rights; they have no security. Their lives and well-being are made and unmade at the whim of those who are exercising the calculus. So, instead of looking at the institution and objecting to that kind of organization, people just go, “I’m a failure;”; “I’m not working hard enough”; or, “I’m not as smart as the next person.”” ~ Judith Butler
  64. “I do think we need to allow for there to be room for subversive and ironic speech. We need to be able to put out plays in which we make fun of ourselves or in which we interrogate the words that injure us. And maybe give them another meaning.” ~ Judith Butler
  65. “We need a legal and political understanding of the right of the refugee, whereby no solution for one group produces a new class of refugees – you can’t solve a refugee problem by producing a new, potentially greater refugee problem.” ~ Judith Butler

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