I saw Judith Butler
Judith Butler came to Argentina this week to present her new book (Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging) and yesterday evening she gave a graduate class on gender performativity. I knew someone who was going to that class and he said I could probably slip in — which would be really lucky, because only 50 or 60 people were actually allowed to sign up. I spent the whole week in a dizzy disbelief: could it really be so easy to see such a legend?
Yesterday afternoon I was walking down the street when I crossed someone familiar. Then it struck me: it was her! The real live Judith Butler! I said hello and thanked her for her work –very quickly, because I didn’t want to bother her too much– and she offered me her hand to shake. A day later, I think I’m still in shock.
Later on I went to the college were the class was going to be held. I still didn’t know if I was going to be able to attend –I only sort-of had permission– but it was completely worth trying; and I ended up being allowed in. I thought I wouldn’t understand anything she said, but she explained her ideas very clearly. Plus, she was very funny at times.
I’m glad I had the chance to hear her talking about gender, considering her latest work is about other subjects. Despite all the academic language, and despite being familiar with the main points of her work, some parts of her talk gave me goosebumps: I recognized much of my own life in what she said.
I’m very grateful to everyone who writes about gender in ways that allowed me to free my mind. I’m not exactly sure whose ideas I agree with yet; I’m young and I have a lot to read and learn and experience. But I thank everyone who helped me see beyond the binary, and it was nice to see one of those people.