Gender

As the prompt says, Butler believed that gender roles are a social construct. She points out the unfortunate fact that we feel forced to follow these social constructs, always acting, never truly being ourselves: “Gendering is a kind of impersonation and approximation.” She criticizes the way that these gender roles have permeated throughout the centuries and dominated our identities and how we feel pressured to act, both individually and in relationships.

In my opinion, Swift thought along much of the same lines as Butler, in terms of criticizing these gender roles and expectations of women. His poem “The Lady’s Dressing Room” is a bit humorous in the horrific realizations the male character stumbles upon in the dressing room. This woman is not just unattractive, she is truly disgusting: “But oh! it turn’d poor Strephon‘s Bowels/When he beheld and smelt the Towels/Begumm’d, bematter’d, and beslim’d/With Dirt, and Sweat, and Ear-Wax grim’d.” I really enjoyed the poem because I felt it criticized the role and image that women are supposed to follow while also satirizing men’s expectations of women (because really, without one we wouldn’t have the other). In this sense, I think that Swift agrees with Butler – that our sex in fact is not always the true determinant of our gender, because gender is sexually constructed, while sex is biological. A gender role can be more of a choice and is more influenced by society – for example, how women feel pressured to look perfect and beautiful all of the time. In my opinion, this is not a feeling that they are born with because they are biologically women; rather, this idea is thrust upon them by society.

I think it is unfair to say that heterosexuality is the original of homosexuality. In a way, this makes homosexuality sound like a lesser form or a copy of heterosexuality, implying that heterosexuality was first/the best. Instead, I think all couples relate to one other based on both personalities, not the idea that every couple needs to have a “woman” and a “man” counterpart. Love is love, and while homosexuality is a concept that is only just now in time coming to be accepted legally and as an accepted relationship, it has been around for a long time, probably for even as long as heterosexuality. I think rather than wondering if homosexuality stems from heterosexuality, we should just accept that all relationships (and friendships, for that matter) stem from love and compatibility between two personalities, and call it a day.

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