Titel: Beauvoir or Butler? Comparing ‘Becoming a Woman’ with ‘Performing Gender’ Through the Life Course
Autor: Susan Pickard
Judith Butler claims to have based her theory of gender performance on Simone de Beauvoir’s path-breaking idea that one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. However, Butler’s interpretation of Beauvoir’s work departs considerably from Beauvoir’s own expressed view which is that women are shaped by an interplay of femininity (construed by cultural and structural norms) and sexed bodies and that the concept of woman is a mutable one that can accommodate increasing degrees of freedom. In this paper I explore Beauvoir’s theories further, showing how they depart from Butler’s interpretations of them and in the process exploring the contribution that Beauvoir and Butler respectively make towards understanding ongoing gender inequality. Finally, I compare and contrast the role of temporality and the life course in ‘becoming a woman’ and in performing gender respectively, focusing on the figure of the post-menopausal woman in particular.