Butler and Foucault
The ideas of Foucault can be seen as an influence on Butler in a number of ways. The most important of these is Foucault’s treatment of power and its relation to the body and sexuality as well as his identification of the body as the central target of power. As Butler is trying to prove that gender and sex differences are a social construct, the idea that those in power as well as society can shape our perceptions of our bodies and sexuality would be appealing to use. However, Foucault does not make very many statements regarding gender, he is more concerned with the idea of how society and power shaped how sexuality was seen and discussed, and thus our ideas of sexuality are formed by artificial means. Thus Butler has to use his ideas in a way that differs from his original message in order to use them to further her own agenda.
Butler attempts to shape Foucault’s ideas by applying his ideas about the treatment of sexuality to the ideas of sex and gender. In other words she uses Foucault’s idea that society and power shape our perceptions and create social constructs that we take for granted, but shifts the focus to sex and gender. This redirection of the idea works well for Butler as she was to build upon Foucault's reasoning as well as adding her own spin when she is explaining how sex and gender are complete fabrications created by society. However as said before Foucault and Butler tackle different areas while applying the same idea, and thus vary significantly in the specific details of what they present. They do share the belief that many roles in society are constructions rather than having any innate differences that make them truly different, with our constructed beliefs creating differences which really aren’t there in any meaningful way. It could be said the Butler is misusing Foucault's ideas by applying them to the radical idea that sex is nothing more than a social construct, a much more extreme view than the one Foucault...
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