In Who’s Afraid Of Gender Judith Butler Supports The Expansion Of Gender Categories 

by Adrienne Urbanski

Renowned gender theorist Judith Butler was ahead of the game when they declared gender a performance and coined the term “gender performativity” in 1990’s Gender Trouble, a book that seems even more relevant 34 years later. Butler continues the conversation with Who’s Afraid of Gender?, arguing against “anti-gender ideology movements,” namely, trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) and those on the far right who see the expansion of gender categories as something to be feared. 

In the most persuasive chapter, while arguing that the category of “women” should not be fixed and should be expanded to include trans identities, Butler writes, “Feminism has always relied on the historically changing character of gender categories in order to demand changes in the way that men and women are defined and treated.” They later contend that two prominent second-wave radical feminists, Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, both believed that gender could be something malleable and that there is a trans-affirmative legacy within radical feminism that has been conveniently overlooked by TERFs. As always, Butler takes on gender with a sharp critical lens and their latest work should be required reading for any feminist. 

Image Via Farrar, Straus and Giroux

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.