Judith Butler quotes:

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  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?'

  • 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.

  • There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender... identity is performatively constituted by the very 'expressions' that are said to be its results.

  • 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.

  • Masculine and feminine roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed.

  • 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.

  • To say that gender is performative is a little different because for something to be performative means that it produces a series of effects. We act and walk and speak and talk in ways that consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman.

  • 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.

  • Events that get covered in the U.S. one way are not very important elsewhere or are given a completely different slant, and one needs to have a kind of comparative way of thinking in order to arrive at a judgment that is not completely provincial, that doesn't end up ratifying one's own national perspective and hence, one's own national agendas.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Indeed it may be only by risking the incoherence of identity that connection is possible.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Precarity designates that politically induced condition in which certain populations suffer from failing social and economic networks of support and become differentially exposed to injury, violence, and death.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • It seems to me that responsiveness is a better source for understanding what moral claims are and how they work upon us.

  • Precisely because a living being may die, it is necessary to care for that being so that it may live. Only under conditions in which the loss would matter does the value of the life appear. Thus, grievability is a presupposition for the life that matters.

  • I argue that even as the war is framed in certain ways to control and heighten affect in relation to the differential grievability of lives, so war has come to frame ways of thinking multiculturalism and debates on sexual freedom, issues largely considered separate from foreign affairs.

  • I'm no great fan of the phallus, and have made my own views known on this subject before, so I do not propose a return to a notion of the phallus as the third term in any and all relations of desire.

  • I argue that even as the war is framed in certain ways to control and heighten affect in relation to the differential grievability of lives, so war has come to frame ways of thinking multiculturalism and debates on sexual freedom, issues largely considered separate from "foreign affairs.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • ... 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • There is no original or primary gender a drag imitates, but gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original.

  • 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.

  • 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?

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.'

  • I think that every sexual position is fundamentally comic.

  • Gender is not something that one is, it is something one does, an act" a doing rather than a being.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • We lose ourselves in what we read, only to return to ourselves, transformed and part of a more expansive world.

  • 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.

  • Possibility is not a luxury; it is as crucial as bread.

  • As we interpret ourselves differently, we also live ourselves differently.

  • I never did like the assertion of the "innate" inferiority or women or Blacks, and I understood that when people tried to talk that way, they were trying to "fix" a social reality into a natural necessity. And yet, sometimes we do need a language that refers to a basic, fundamental, enduring, and necessary dimension of who we are, and the sense of sexed embodiment can be precisely that.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • It is true that non-governmental organisations 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • If you speak [ about violence against Israelis], you are in an unspeakable place, have become a Nazi or its moral equivalent (if there is a moral equivalent). It certainly terrifies, but perhaps also it is a linguistic permutation of state terrorism, an assault that stops one in one's tracks, and secures the continuing operation of the regime and its monopoly on politically intelligible speech.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • To operate within the matrix of power is not the same as to replicate uncritically relations of domination.

  • 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

  • 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 humaness is called into question.

  • 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.

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

  • It is true that one was not allowed at the time to really ask, what would lead people to do this, from what sense of political outrage or injury? And in that way, the possibility of sympathetic identification was foreclosed. That does not mean that some people took quiet pleasure in certain icons of US capitalism coming down, even though they would oppose such action on moral and political grounds.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I know that some subjective experiences of sex are very firm and fundamental, even unchangeable. They can be so firm and unchanging that we call them "innate". But given that we report on such a sense of self within a social world, a world in which we are trying to use language to express what we feel, it is unclear what language does that most effectively. I understand that "innate" is a word that conveys the sense of something hired-wired and constitutive. I suppose I would be inclined to wonder whether other vocabularies might do the job equally well.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Perhaps we have to remember that there are forms of outrage that do not lead to any sort of mobilization, and there are ways of "registering the facts" that do not lead to outrage.

  • We should all have greater freedoms to define and pursue our lives without pathologization, de-realization, harassment, threats of violence, violence, and criminalization. I join in the struggle to realize such a world.

  • 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.

  • I think maybe it's more important to know the traditional concepts we have for thinking about how bodies are feminine or masculine or how sexuality is, straight or gay. These categories very often fail to describe the complexity of who we are.

  • 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.

  • I must say, I feel the reception of my work is none of my business.

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

  • 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.

  • People who expect enmity to suddenly convert into love are probably using the wrong model.

  • 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.

  • What is most important is to cease legislating for all lives what is liveable only for some, and similarly, to refrain from proscribing for all lives what is unlivable for some.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Let's face it. We're undone by each other. And if we're not, we're missing something.

  • 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.

  • I think maybe the destructive pleasure got turned into the destructive pleasure of war (something we see still in the images of US soldiers urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban soldiers). Something of the pleasure in destruction gets unleashed, and then becomes part of war effort rationalised first as revenge (or justice defined as revenge). But then it takes new forms, as we see now.

  • I think, what I want to say is that yes, my ideas have travelled into popular culture they also emerged from popular culture in a way, or from the general public as you put it. But not as a program.

  • Photography has a relation to intervention, but photographing is not the same as an intervening.

  • War begets war. It produces outraged and humiliated and furious people. That is almost invariably the case.

  • A different kind of pleasure surfaced in the aftermath, the pleasure of seeing the towers fall time and again, the experience of being entranced by the visual spectacle, and then also the very graphic forms of public mourning for exemplary citizens (taking place at the same time as the refusal to mourn the undocumented, the foreign, gay and lesbian lives lost there, for example). I am not sure that the guilt over the pleasure re-installed the good citizen.

  • Peace is a resistance to the terrible satisfactions of war .

  • I wonder about economic sanctions, though, since that is a way that states engage in boycotts against one another.

  • I was off to Yale to be a lesbian

  • There was a brief moment after 9/11 when Colin Powell said we should not rush to satisfy the desire for revenge. It was a great moment, an extraordinary moment, because what he was actually asking people to do was to stay with a sense of grief, mournfulness, and vulnerability.

  • Nothing is more important for transgender people than to have access to excellent health care in trans-affirmative environments, to have the legal and institutional freedom to pursue their own lives as they wish, and to have their freedom and desire affirmed by the rest of the world. This will happen only when transphobia is overcome at the level of individual attitudes and prejudices and in larger institutions of education, law, health care, and kinship.

  • 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.

  • Law itself is either suspended, or regarded as an instrument that the state may use in the service of constraining and monitoring a given population; the state is not subject to the rule of law, but law can be suspended or deployed tactically and partially to suit the requirements of a state that seeks more and more to allocate sovereign power to its executive and administrative powers. The law is suspended in the name of "sovereignty" of the nation, where "sovereignty" denotes the task of any state to preserve and protect its own territoriality.

  • What does it mean then to live with one another? It can be unhappy, it can be wretched, it can be ambivalent, it can even be full of antagonism, but all of that can play out in the political sphere without recourse to expulsion or genocide. And that is our obligation, to stay in the sphere with whatever murderous rage we have, without acting on it.

  • The life doesn't simply get erased. It gets imprinted and remembered.

  • Perhaps the promise of phallus is always dissatisfying in some way.

  • We need to be I think equally sensitive to the injurious power of certain kinds of speech acts but also to the subversive and possibly liberatory effects of certain kinds of play.

  • I think there is no one answer. It is still a struggle, there are tensions and I'm sure there are many people who would like to see these questions laid to rest or cease to be posed altogether.

  • It seems to me that "Gender trouble" will always be important to try and open up our ideas of what gender is. So, I don't know if it's revolutionary, but maybe it still has something to say to those issues.

  • I have also been invited to talk to psychologists and psychoanalysts and I liked that very much. Because, they are the ones who are bringing a lot of very, you know, problematic ideas about sexuality and gender into psychiatric and psychological settings. And I like having some influence there.

  • If you have a conversation "Why is it you think masculinity is linked with heterosexuality? Or why is it you think masculinity is linked with sexual dominance or the sexually active position in the sex act?" If you start to ask people those questions, then they realize "Maybe gender is not one thing. Maybe I have collected a number of things under one category and I've made a mistake".

  • Every taxi driver I have ever spoken to has a theory of gender.

  • Because Al-Qaeda has been a non-state centered organisation, many of these scenarios do not exactly apply. These are not wars between states. And yet, it seems to me that we make a mistake if we accept the view that states are fighting terrorism, since we have abundant evidence for accepting the idea of state terrorism, and what is most urgent is to track and expose how state terrorism operates under the rubric of "democracy."

  • We have to ask how we can stretch and how sometimes we can break the norms that determine what's intelligible and readable and what is not.

  • It's important that if one opposes discriminatory speech, one opposes all kinds. That is that one decides on a principle that it will include all minorities. But if the protection of one minority against another minority is what is happening, then I worry about that.

  • "Gender trouble" is old. I mean, you know, in New York, it is old. I mean it's sweet. I mean people are really kind about it but it's like a former love affair you had and you're done.

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