Gender Performativity

Having been thinking a lot about what exactly I would like to address in my major research paper should I get accepted into Brock’s Masters in English program, I came to the conclusion that I would like to write a paper that addresses components of women and gender studies in addition to components of English Language and Literature. More specifically, I think I have narrowed my topic down to the idea of gender performance, and the consequences that can arise when an individual is forced into performing their gender in accordance to societal expectations of what masculinity or femininity is.

The idea of gender being a performance was initially proposed by Judith Butler in her text Gender Troubles and I think her theory contains a lot of validity in regards to how there are socially constructed comprehensions of what being male or being female is. Both the male and female gender are expected to abide by socially dictated norms in order to conform to notions of normalcy, and if a person fails to adhere to these categorizations they are alienated and isolated from their apparent gender identity.

It is worth considering that consequences that can develop when an individual is forced to express their gender in a manner that is deemed socially acceptable. If a person feels pressured to be someone they are not or fail to identify with, the results can be disastrous if they take the stereotypical characteristic associated with a gender to the extreme. An example of this occurs in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton when young boys are pressured to be hyper-masculine and therefore engage in excessive violence as a result. An additional example of this occurs in Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James when a young woman feels pressured and succumbs to a physically and dominant sexual relationship at the hands of a hyper-masculine male.

Gender performativity is a prevalent force in various aspects of media and contemporary life, and it is an issue that deserves serious consideration in order to be addressed and furthermore resolved.

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