Role of Gender Performativity Theory in Communications

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Throughout past and current history, we have been able to analyze the way individuals have evolved into these incredible human beings. This could not have been possible without the proper use and analysis of different theories. The key to understanding humans and our fascinating abilities throughout time is by analyzing the ways in which humans communicate! Humans are beyond intelligent, but how must one possibly been able to intellectually explain a phenomenon without technology? Before technology came into play, individuals came about different ways in order to explain or try to explain a phenomenon. This is called a theory, a theory is an idea or a way to explain any specific action or activity. As a result, it is extremely important especially as a San Francisco State communications major to be able to apply different theories in order to truly understand all aspects of communication.

Communication is seen all around us from the ways animals interact with each other through movements and sounds to the way your neighbor says hello to you in the morning. It surrounds us without you even noticing, but what happens when you do begin to notice? Individuals who have studied communication for years have noticed and created different theories that have helped us explain the process of communication by being able to analyze many theories that help explain what could not be explained in the past. Without these different theories, we wouldn't be able to understand the process of human communication! Communication is needed to survive and as humans, we are blessed by having the ability to expand the way we think, act and talk in such a rapid way that it is essential to create and understand these theories in order to help explain the past, present and future of the next generation.

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Throughout the last couple of years taking courses that focus and contribute to my major in communications, I have come across a class that not only helped me to properly use and understand the theory but also helped me apply it in my daily life. The specific course that helped reflect on the way I articulate and use theory to analyze human communication was my Transgender communication class. This class although focused on a topic that was very knew to me helped me understand gender beyond society's binary norms, not only through observing it through an interpersonal level but also through media. One assignment that clearly helped me understand the theory of gender performativity was an assignment who’s goal and focus was to describe and explain the design of a cohesive communication application to inform and/or persuade an audience of our choice about a specific topic. This assignment in which I will continue to unpack specifically provided me the tools I needed to understand and apply to the theory of gender performativity.

The theory of gender performativity first came about from a well-known gender theorist named Judith Butler. Butler was the first to introduced this new way of viewing gender from one of her best known books titled, “ Gender Trouble” where she argues that a gender is a form of improvised performance. A quote from a Judith Butler interview states, 'When we say that gender is performed, we usually mean that we've taken on a role; we're acting in some way…To say that gender is performative means... We act and walk and speak and talk that consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman…we act as if that being of a man or that being of a woman is actually an internal reality or simply something that is true about us. Actually, it is a phenomenon that is being produced all the time and reproduced all the time.' This piece of evidence clearly shows and breaks down the difference between performativity and performance and how Butler’s new theory challenged the social construct of the gender binary.

This theory of gender performativity helped shaped my knowledge and better analyze the gender performance of drag queens specifically for the assignment in my Transgender communication class. The assignment started of really flexible, first by choosing a specific topic in addition to creating a 5-page group essay and finally creating a poster, class lecture, etc. that helps spread that knowledge. The topic my group decided to research was on drag queens. As a collective group, we decided to research this topic, although we lacked a bit of knowledge we decided to push though in hopes of educating ourselves and others at the same time. Although Drag queens have been apart of human entertainment for more than 100 years the drag community are almost always pushed to the outskirts of the LGBTQ community and with no doubt seen by society as a joke. The individuals who mainly participate in drag are primarily gay men who enjoy dressing as a woman. The fact that these performers dress as the opposite sex does not entitle them to be transgered but rather performers. For individuals who do not

The main focus of the assignment assigned this study application is to inform people about how the majority of drag performers do not identify as the gender they use in performance. Furthermore, the fact that they dress up and perform as different sex does not constitute them as transgender. In further explanation, being transgender is not a performance, unlike being a drag king or queen. Being transgender is being a person that lives as a member of a gender other than that assigned at birth based on anatomical sex. The example posters that are presented in partnership with this essay are meant to exemplify the difference between drag performances and a drag performer’s gender identity.


  1. Judith Butler (6 June 2011). Judith Butler: Your Behavior Creates Your Gender (Video). Big Think via YouTube. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
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