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Who’s Afraid of Gender?

Judith Butler, Universiy of California, Berkeley; Joan Wallach Scott, Institute for Advanced Study, emerita

Tue, 4/16 · 6:00 pm7:30 pm · Labyrinth Books

Labyrinth Books

We are delighted and honored to welcome two of the most eminent thinkers on gender in this country to Labyrinth. Butler’s new book, her first published with a non-academic press, was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2024 by The Washington Post, Time, ELLE, Kirkus, Literary Hub, The Millions, Electric Literature; we at Labyrinth feel the same.

“A profoundly urgent intervention.” —Naomi Klein

“A timely must-read for anyone actively invested in re-imagining collective futurity.” —Claudia Rankine

From a global icon, a bold, essential account of how a fear of gender is fueling reactionary politics around the world.

Judith Butler, the groundbreaking thinker whose iconic book Gender Trouble 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” that are dedicated to circulating a fantasy that gender is a dangerous, perhaps diabolical, threat to families, local cultures, civilization—and even “man” himself. Inflamed by the rhetoric of public figures, this movement has sought to nullify reproductive justice, undermine protections against sexual and gender violence, and strip trans and queer people of their rights to pursue a life without fear of violence.

The aim of Who’s Afraid of Gender? is not to offer a new theory of gender but to examine how “gender” has become a phantasm for emerging authoritarian regimes, fascist formations, and transexclusionary feminists. In their vital, courageous new book, Butler illuminates the concrete ways that this phantasm of “gender” collects and displaces anxieties and fears of destruction. Operating in tandem with deceptive accounts of “critical race theory” and xenophobic panics about migration, the anti-gender movement demonizes struggles for equality, fuels aggressive nationalism, 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 bold call to refuse the alliance with authoritarian movements and to make a broad coalition with all those whose struggle for equality is linked with fighting injustice. Imagining new possibilities for both freedom and solidarity, Butler offers us a hopeful work of social and political analysis that is both timely and timeless—a book whose verve and rigor only they could deliver.

Judith Butler is an American philosopher and gender studies scholar whose work has influenced political philosophy ethics, and the fields of hird-wave feinism, queer theory, and literary theory.

In 1993, Butler began teaching at the Universiy of California, Berkeley, where they have served, beginning in 1998, as the Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory. They are also the Hannah Arend Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School.

Butler is best known for their books Gender Trouble; Feminism and the Subversion of Identity and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex, in which they challenge conventional notions of gender and develop their theory of gender performativity. This theory has had a major influence on feminist and queer scholarship.[8] Their work is often studied and debated in film studies courses emphasizing gender studies and performativity in discourse. Joan Wallach Scott is professor emerita in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. She is recognized as one of the foundational feminist historians. Her influential books include Gender and the Politics of HistoryThe Politics of the VeilThe Fantasy of Feminist HistorySex and SecularismKnowledge, Power, and Academic Freedom; and On the Judgement of History.

Cosponsored by Princeton University’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, Carl Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, the Humanities Council, and by the Institute for Advanced Study, and SPIA in NJ

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