Do Voices Matter? Vocality, Materiality, Gender Performativity
While vocal acts, such as interpellation and speech acts, constitute a network of theoretical nodes in Butler’s writings, her theory of gender performativity neglects to theorize the mediation of such acts through the voice and its technologies. In a close reading of Butler’s influential texts, the paper examines the ramifications of a notion of gender performativity that ignores the performative aspects of the voice, asking what it means to think a body without a voice. What notions of materiality and subjectivity does such a thinking it assume? How does it understand the relationship of performativity, performance and sound technology? I argue that the repression of the sonoric aspects of the voice can be read as a symptom of the role of materiality in the theory of gender performativity. Despite Butler’s attempts to attend to the material body within a discourse of the performative, the notion of materiality is constrained through the economy of the sign and remains subordinated to the realm of intelligibility, a hierarchy that Butler explicitly rejects. However, the material voice will finally supplement and subvert the theory of gender performativity.