Sadaf and Rinzin Cafe Discussion 7- Butler and Gender

Butler- Rethinking Vulnerability and Resistance

Having recently read and discussed Judith Butler’s Rethinking Vulnerability and Resistance and presenting on our projects, both Rinzin and I realized that this article while difficult was very important to understanding resistance and how vulnerable people are in their struggle to go against the narrative.

Sadaf: Butler makes a case about the condition of the human body and those that are able bodied. In this sense, struggle and resistance is portrayed more so in the condition of being able bodied and resisting against social and economic policies. Rarely, is resistance performed by those that are not able bodied. Rarely, are actions thought of as being performed by those who are no able bodied. With this mindset, the able bodied individuals of a society do not create environments or circumstances that would allow disabled bodies of people to resist.

Rinzin: The part that stuck out most to me is that act of resistance such as protest can only be exercised only if that person’s life enables it. I have lot of friends who are illegal immigrants as well as their parents living in the U.S. After Trump took away Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which protects some individuals living in the U.S, many were frustrated. However, they were not able to protest or speak out. They were afraid that in the process they might be deported or arrested. Also, some can’t afford to take the time out from work, since most have low income jobs and less flexible hours. This is a sad reality that people who are vulnerable that want to and should resist dont have the support they need in order to fight for their cause. Maybe, this could be an factor why in which the system is a never ending circle that bullies the weak as an ongoing process.

Sadaf: Another argument that Butler makes and both Rinzin and I thought was interesting was the way in which name-calling has affected the performances of people as they are identified at a young age as male or female, of one nationality or minority. This form of name-calling and gender identification is important in understanding my topic and the “bachaposh.” As girls dress as boys and sometimes struggle in understanding their role in a society that sees them as male but in the private sphere they are treated as girls. The fact that these young girls are in a situation where they must socially perform as male but still act within the dimensions of female behavior is seen as a confusing and problematic start to their lives. Most of these young girls are taught what it means to be a female and how to perform their identities at home as such however, they must then embody the role of a male when they are at school, or working. Rinzin agreed, that with name-calling and being recognized as a woman and as someone of a particular nationality makes those in certain societies like India use products that lessen the chances of being referred to negative stereotypes derived from having darker skin.

Rinzin: I think the other thing that Butler brought up in this article that I think is prevalent on SLU campus is that the dominant group uses vulnerability to hide their set privilege. An example that is provided in this article is that “When the white people in california was no longer the majority group, they claimed that they were a vulnerable population”. They did not understand what it really mean to be part of the vulnerable population and it was clearly racist. A similar incident happened on campus a couple of month ago. DiMezzo, President of SLU sent out an email to the whole campus in which he stated that SLU Republicans feel as if they don’t have a space on campus and cant voice their opinion in class without being judged. Essentially claiming that they are a vulnerable population on campus. Similar to the white people in California who claimed they were a vulnerable population, they failed to recognize their own privilege.

Question: Who has most influenced Butler and her understanding of Resistance as she has described it as an act produced through an able body and how have people been unable to resist due to this?

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