"Examined Life": A Walk With Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  923 Words
Date:  2022-05-23

"Examined Life" is an expression of the issues that minorities face in the course of their daily lives. In the video, Judith Butler takes a walk with Sunaura Taylor, who is disabled. Sunaura defines social reality as what a majority of people in society consider as normal. She observes that society has set standards that people need to meet for them to be categorized as normal. For disabled people like her, she reckons that the social situation of disabled people is not as a result of their inability to go about their duties on a daily basis but because of the way society has labeled them. Sunaura gives an example when she visited a coffee shop and picked a cup of tea with her mouth. The act surprised many in the shop because most people perceive that that is the work of hands. This perception limits the ability of disabled people to exploit the ability of all their parts of the body for personal benefit. Such attitudes result in limited career opportunities, social isolation, and inadequate housing options (Butler and Taylor video). Overall, social reality limits certain groups from achieving personal progress due to perceptions that such persons are incapable of doing so. This concept is similar to Ian F. Haney Lopez' definition of race. According to Lopez race is a large group of people bound together by history and ancestry. It is a false thing produced by humans to suppress others and results from social interactions. Genetically, a thing like race does not exist. It is a standard that has been created by others and is based on what others see as normal rather than reality (Lopez 11-14). Lopez's definition of race connects with Sunaura's case in the sense that the majority social groups define the capability of minorities. For example, Lopez records that whites use the issue of racial superiority to categorize non-white races as incapable thereby justifying their oppression, discrimination and social isolation of the other social groups (Lopez 22-27). This is the same way society treats disabled people as shown by Sunaura.

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Another issue that Butler discusses in the video is social isolation and violence of gender minorities- people who are not categorized as female or male by the standards that a majority of members of society have developed. Butler gives an example of an eighteen-year-old man who was killed for displaying feminine walking style (Butler and Taylor video). This event reveals the violence that queer people face in social environments. In other words, society, as represented in the classmates who killed the queer man in Maine, puts pressure on people to appear or behave in a certain way even if it is not realistic to do so. In the case of the murdered man, walking like a man would be pretentious because it would not have been possible in so far as the man was concerned. To reach a level where the classmates throw their colleague off the bridge shows how society had subjected the man to discrimination and verbal violence. This connects with Bell Hooks ideas regarding the effect of patriarchy on men. According to Hooks, society puts pressure on men to behave as men by working hard to feed their families. Society further conditions men that they are not supposed to cry, seek help and support, nor show love because society would interpret it as a show of weakness. This has denied them full emotional well-being (Hooks 55-80). That is to say, this idea of self-concept among men denies them peace of the mind. Such outcome connects with the experience of the man Butler mentions in that it highlights the mental and physical suffering society causes on some people by putting certain expectations that make them live a lie instead of accepting what is practical about life.


The third issue that comes to the open in the Butler and Taylor conversation is the interpretation that disability is an inability. Many people consider Taylor as incapable of performing certain duties due to the deformities of her limbs. If one does not hands, for instance, it is a common expectation that such persons would not be able to perform activities such as holding things. Such descriptions set limitations regarding the extent that certain body parts can help us to go about daily activities. On the contrary, there is no evidence to suggest that body parts are limited on what they can do in enabling one to survive. This is seen in Taylor's ability to use the month. Such display of capability of body parts is also seen in Mat Frasier's performance. Although Frasier lacks hands, this does not bar him from using his legs quite perfectly as somebody with hands. He can throw kicks without necessarily getting the balance of hands. This capability connects with Taylor's view that body parts are only limited to perform certain functions to the extent that many people think as their maximum reach. Otherwise, body parts can perform functions which many people consider them incapable. Hence, Taylor and Frasier are connected in their rejection of disability as inability.

Works Cited

"Examined Life - Judith Butler & Sunaura Taylor 720p.avi." 6 Oct. 2010, www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0HZaPkF6qE.

Hooks, Bell. The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love. Washington Square P, 2005.

Lopez, Ian H. "Social Construction of Race: Some Observations on Illusion, Fabrication, and Choice." Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, vol. 29, 1994, pp. 1-63.

Sins Invalid. "Mat Fraser SI 2009 (composer Steve Angstrom)." YouTube, 18 Nov. 2009, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkfhwGuCd4w.

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"Examined Life": A Walk With Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor. (2022, May 23). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/examined-life-a-walk-with-judith-butler-and-sunaura-taylor

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