With Judith Butler we can say we are just within post-modernism in terms of History of Phylosophy (if to say post-modernism as one more step of a metanarrative event is not an oxymoron).
Well, we are dealing with the fact that for this philosopher and feminist activist, gender “is a practice of improvisation within a scene of constraint.” But; what is exactly what she is telling us by this?
In society we have a series of etiquettes for everything we are or we do; and departing from such etiquettes, names or words that not necessarily have an actual content attached, the members of such societies expect from us to act the way is expected counting on said etiquettes/ words/ names. So, how can we be able to actually ourselves when we are pre-determined that way; when a series of patterns are acting as constraints for our identity? In the case in question, how can we build up a sexual identity for us, a real sexual identity, when sexual identities have been built for us already without allowing us to choose? And here is where improvisation plays its role. It is through social/ individual improvisation/ creativity that we creates our sexual identity, gender or as we like to call it. In such a process, those given etiquettes are not necessarily or completely a hindrance, but the board where we play our creativity, our ability for improvisation.
It is obvious that, even if she talks specifically about gender, such an analysis is perfectly translatable to any other social or identity field. Our real ego is constrained by social given roles which do not realise it. It is with improvisation that we give place to an identity of ourselves.
That’s why Judith Butler says that “is a practice of improvisation within a scene of constraint.” We have the scene of constraint, we improvise thereon. The sum of both is our building of gender/ identity.
I would like to compare such an analysis with the conclusions we saw for Baudelaire. As we saw before, following the works by Baudelaire, we are condemned to the ordinary, to the triviality and ineffectiveness that have conquest our societies. But he invented a way to partially escape from it: Dandyism.
Dandyism was a way to plunge into that sort of society but, at the same time, to elevate oneself over it, distinguishing oneself and being oneself the best product of his/her own creativity, as a way to make something completely out of banal within the banal.
Even if both analyses and conclusions are very different in many details, and the result of very different moments and state of the things, it is obvious that many similarities can be found. If we explain both theories in a simplistic way, the scheme is almost the same. The scene of constraint which Butler talks about is the equivalent for the social construction that condemned us to the ordinary in Baudelaire. Improvisation is in Butler the way we use our creativity to put ourselves over that scene of constraint; a vision completely interchangeable with the way that Baudelaire considered the role of the Dandy or, better said, the construction of the Dandy by himself to escape from social constraints without totally escape from society.
Funny. As always seems to happen, development of History of Thinking is wilful, we could ask to ourselves if Butler is aware of those similarities.