Beauvoir and Butler on Gender: Gender's Definition, Origins, and Relationship with Sexuality




Webster, Sophia

Access rights

Worldwide access

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis answers the questions of how Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler understand gender, its origins, how it functions, and its relationship to sexuality. Beauvoir and Butler similarly argue that gender is a social construction, and Beauvoir sees gender as a historical development. Butler argues that biological sex is a gendered construct, while Beauvoir believes it has some connection to gender, although she argues that sex and gender are separate concepts. Butler defines gender as a performative act, while Beauvoir examines gender through the concepts of Subject and Other. Gender connects to sexuality in different ways according to the two theorists. Butler and Beauvoir both see society’s standard of heterosexuality as a way to reinforce gender roles, but Butler adds the idea of a heterosexual matrix that works to maintain a traditional construction of sex, gender, and sexuality.