Research Post 8- Butler and Gender Performance

Jenny Nordberg’s case study examines the lives of many girls that are forced to dress as boys as they struggle to attend school, provide for their families, or to help bring honor to their family homes. However, these girls are not initially conditioned to understand the gender dynamics of the Afghan society.

However, by looking at Butler’s argument about gender and the performatives of the action of a gender that sustains such a cycle is through institutional structures. By looking at Zahra’s case study it is evident that she does not believe to be a boy in reality however, her privileges of being male are ones she does not wish to give up.

Despite the fact that Zahra understand she is a woman and her gender identity is female, she wants to remain a boy. At 16 years old Zahra is one of the oldest “bachaposh” in the case studies that Nordberg examines. Zahra does not seem to have any ideas of actually wanting to be a man, although her mannerisms and lifestyle choice would be considered to western psychologists as that of a transgendered male, she does not identity as such. However, by examining Butler and her arguments for gender performance it is evident that there is still a code of conduct that society maintains on women no matter their gender appearance. For example, despite being considered a boy to the outside, Zahra must come home at a particular time and she must obey her cultures norms in her private life as guided by her parents and family members.

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