“It would make no sense, then, to define gender as the cultural interpretation of sex, if sex is a gendered category. Gender ought not to be conceived merely as the cultural inscription of meaning on a pregiven sex (a juridical conception); gender must also designate the…
This might be nitpicky and irrelevant, but I’m pretty sure that Butler is actually saying that gender made sex, not the other way around. And word on boring, particularly her conclusions, though I like her analysis and arguments generally, especially this.
i’m super curious about what you see as the difference between my commentary and what Butler is saying-
I’m currently kinda stuck between a materialist explanation for gender and more of the gender made sex understanding: they happened at the same moment. Like, gender is a functionalizing of bodies which created sex, so gender created the bodies patriarchy needed. Butler always seems to be begging the question of “okay, but where did gender (which created sex) arise from, and why in such a specific way?” So thinking about patriarchy as creation of, and the means of control of the means of re-production and accumulation, then gender is kind of this free-floating category that created the bodies it needed for one group to replicate and build itself by means of the other. So before that accumulation, bodies were just bodies doing their thing, and it took a sexing-functionalizing demarcation of gender to create sex out of (in)difference. It feels like this leads to some really intese biological-essentialism around what creates gender, but then at the same time, gender can functionalize any litteral body into whatever sexed category, regardless of that bodies specific utility to patriarchy as accumulation.
I am always tempted to throw out the word “dialectical” to describe this relationship between sex and gender, their origins, and utility under patriarchy, because I feel like that evades the need for a distinct answer for the question “which came first?, Which originates the other?”, and seems to place the origin more in terms of a relation of power which captures bodies within both at once and makes them (seemingly) inseparable. But its also really unclear how that operates, and why sex and gender both seem to have a quality of being the real site of each other, while at the same time gender seems to stand independently of sex (even while still being its explanation.)