Book Review of Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble

By Olivia Comstock

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One of the many odd philosophy memes that dwell in intellectual circles of the internet

Gender Trouble by Judith Butler, published in 1999, is a key text for feminist theory, queer theory, and continental philosophy. She wrote several other books on gender and has a position as a professor at the University of California Berkeley. Her books are regarded as difficult to read due to their long, unstructured sentences and many references to other philosophers that it is assumed the reader knows. Regardless, I still think her work is valuable because of its contributions to the larger field of gender theory and how we think about gender today. I will give a summary of Gender Trouble, explaining the concepts she covers.

Continue reading “Book Review of Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble”

Tactics to Overcome the Violence of the English Language

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Words with accents on a wall in an empty room

By Olivia Comstock 

Post Structuralism theory became prominent with theorists and philosophers beginning in the 60s and continues to influence academics today. Part of this theory is that language shapes the way people view the world. It shapes the world, it shapes human interactions, and it shapes who people are and how they view themselves. The whole human experience is constructed and viewed through the lens of language because this is the only tool available to describe interactions with the world. Experiences and feelings outside of language are not only seen as less valid, but they also seem less real because people have no way to communicate them to others or to themselves. Instead, language is used in order to try to capture those inklings. The English language is, however, an inherently a violent language. This is true through words, their meanings, the grammar of the language, and the common vernacular and way of structuring speech.

English lends itself to placing blame and judgment on others and oneself without understanding the feelings and needs behind those harsh statements. When this is taking place in a communicatory setting, that is meant to be positive, (such as a relationship, friendship, or workplace environment,) it can leave participants feeling annoyed, hurt, and alone. Non-violent communication attempts to consciously overcome this language violence through consciousness of reflecting and processing. There will still have situations of blame and judgment, but people are better equipped to handle them using non-violent communication. It is a strategy of communication based on the work of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Several books have been written on this topic and there are certified practitioners on college campuses and as counselors all across America. I was introduced to this through a small group here at University of Idaho, and I think that it is a great strategy for those who wish to work on their mindfulness and for anyone who wishes to communicate more successfully.

It is especially important for women and feminists of all genders because it focuses on the expression of feelings and the importance of good communication, which are values that are subdued by our patriarchal system. Continue reading “Tactics to Overcome the Violence of the English Language”