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The work is influential in feminism, women's studies, and lesbian and gay studies, and has also enjoyed widespread popularity outside of traditional academic circles.
Butler's ideas about gender came to be seen as foundational to queer theory and the advancing of dissident sexual practices during the 1990s.
Moreover, the universality presumed by these terms parallels the assumed universality of the patriarchy, and erases the particularity of oppression in distinct times and places.
Butler thus eschews identity politics in favor of a new, coalitional feminism that critiques the basis of identity and gender.
Labour has set itself the challenge to make this case to the missing millions of women voters.She challenges assumptions about the distinction often made between sex and gender, according to which sex is biological while gender is culturally constructed.Butler argues that this false distinction introduces a split into the supposedly unified subject of feminism.Both assume that there exists a female "self-identical being" in need of representation, and their arguments hide the impossibility of "being" a gender at all.Butler argues instead that gender is performative: no identity exists behind the acts that supposedly "express" gender, and these acts constitute, rather than express, the illusion of the stable gender identity.