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Who's Afraid of Gender? by Judith Butler

Who's Afraid of Gender? by Judith Butler


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Shouldn't we know what we're arguing about?

From one of the most influential thinkers of our time, an enlightening, essential account of how gender is understood today.

Judith Butler, the ground-breaking philosopher whose work has redefined how we think about gender and sexuality, confronts the attacks on gender that have become central to right-wing movements today. Global networks have formed ‘anti-gender ideology movements’ dedicated to circulating a fantasy that gender is a dangerous threat to families, local cultures, civilization – and even ‘man’ himself. Inflamed by the rhetoric of public figures, this movement has sought to abolish reproductive justice, undermine protections against violence, and strip trans and queer people of their rights.

But what, exactly, is so disturbing about gender? In this vital, courageous book, Butler carefully examines how ‘gender’ has become a phantasm for emerging authoritarian regimes, fascist formations and transexclusionary feminists, and the concrete ways in which this phantasm works. Operating in tandem with deceptive accounts of critical race theory and xenophobic panics about migration, the anti-gender movement demonizes struggles for equality and leaves millions of people vulnerable to subjugation.

An essential intervention into one of the most fraught issues of our moment, Who's Afraid of Gender? is a galvanizing call to make a broad coalition with all those who struggle for equality and fight injustice. Imagining new possibilities for freedom and solidarity, Butler offers us an essentially hopeful work that is both timely and timeless.




Judith Butler is the author of several books including Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of IdentityBodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex", The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection, Excitable Speech, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, and The Force of Non-Violence. They live in Berkeley.




'Only Judith Butler’s dazzling intellect and moral confidence could orient us inside the maze of projections, confessions, displacements, and co-optations that make up today’s wars over gender. It is the dream of a bygone, authoritarian masculinist power that unites the various fronts of this battle—and only solidarity between all who are in fascism’s crosshairs has a chance of saving us. A profoundly urgent intervention. ' - 

Naomi Klein


'The global war against so-called 'gender ideology' is one of the most politically consequential and psychically intriguing phenomena of our present moment. Underneath it lies, Judith Butler argues in this powerful new book, a yearning for the restoration of a mythic patriarchal order in the face of mounting existential despair. As ever, Butler offers us a compelling diagnosis of the anxieties, fears and fantasies that structure our political present, pointing us towards both its darkest dimensions and its possible undoing.' - Amia Srinivasan


'Who’s Afraid of Gender? offers a thoroughgoing answer to its titular question, a sweeping analysis of why it matters, and an inspiring counter-vision committed to freedom and equality for all. We desperately need this book - and Judith Butler - to teach us how and why anti-gender ideology partners with fascist passions, how and why we must resist such an alliance, and how and why we need to stand together “on the side of livable life, love, and freedom”' - Maggie Nelson


'Judith Butler’s big brain and big heart have consistently made other people’s lives more possible by grappling with and exposing how authoritarian ideas work. Here they show how anti-trans and anti-queer rhetoric are on rapid rise from global and domestic Nationalists, the Catholic Church and TERFS. And that these divergent groups all root their attacks in false accusations of harm, when they are the ones holding the power. By answering the question “Who is out to destroy whom?” Butler dissects the distorted claim that expanding gender systems, “hurts” people who identify with the status quo. Butler turns these manipulative arguments on their heads, revealing the trope of perpetrators claiming victimhood as central to anti-trans politics. A useful, helpful, and hopeful book.' - Sarah Schulman


  • Details

    Imprint: Allen Lane

    Publication Date: 19 Mar 2024

    ISBN: 9780241595824

    Pages: 320

    Format: Hardback

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