Gender Analysis with the Crying Game

Through an in depth analysis of The Crying Game, examine Judith Butler's notion of the performativity of gender

There look like many similarities between Neil Jordan's 1992 movie The Crying Game and Judith Butler's theory of the performativity of gender as promulgated in her seminal publication Gender Trouble, which has been one of the most hotly contested intellectual studies on feminism shared before fifty years. Both were able to cause major controversy by turning the traditional notion of gender on its brain and both request the audience/reader to question society's making of 'man', 'girl', 'masculinity' and 'femininity'. The next analysis seeks to show how Butler's ideas were able to permeate Jordan's film, which is - it ought to be noted - a much more complex movie than a mere research of gender issues. First, however, a definition of the 'performativity' of gender must be attempted in order to establish a conceptual platform for the rest of the debate.

Judith Butler's theory on gender should be interpreted within the broader cultural and political context of feminist theory that arrived in two distinctive 'waves' during the 1960's and the 1970's. After acquiring the requisite politics achievements gained by the advancements of the first wave, the second, more radicalised wave of feminism sought to challenge historical notions of man and female in western modern culture, "which sustains male dominance by co˜choosing women and suppressing the feminine. These arguments web page link dominant western kinds of rationality with male electricity and control over women and dynamics, which is associated with violence, oppression and damage. "[1]

Thus, while Butler's views are doubtlessly ground-breaking, they also needs to be read through this dominant feminist climate of deep˜seated change that characterised the second 1 / 2 of the twentieth century in the Western world, which searched for to intentionally create divisions between heterosexual men and heterosexual women in order to help expand the feminist cause. That is also the reason behind the alliance between radical feminism and the lgbt communities, that was forged at the moment and which is immediately highly relevant to the performativity of gender as seen in The Crying Game. Butler's views deviate from the feminist norm based on the manner in which she formulates the thought of needing to 'perform' the elements of man and girl in contemporary culture. Within this sense, she considers both masculinity and femininity to be made by culture and she crops the theory that if this culture were structured along less visibly male˜feminine lines, then your two genders would react in a discernibly different manner. This is the idea which is utilized inside the Crying Game to which attention must now be switched.

The Crying Game is a movie that is really as much about the Troubles of the IRA as it is a film about trans˜gender examination. The storyline concerns the nucleus of a small music group of Irish terrorists who kidnap a British isles soldier (Forest Whitaker) for the purpose of exchanging him in order to secure the release of captive IRA operatives in UK jails. The gang is led by Maguire (Adrian Dunbar) and also includes Jude (Miranda Richardson) and Fergus (Stephen Rea. ) It's the personality of Fergus who'll become the primary emphasis of the film as first he detects himself unable to the get rid of the British soldier, Jody and subsequently he embarks upon discovering the deceased man's enthusiast, Dil (Jaye Davidson) to whom he detects himself immediately fascinated. This burgeoning romance between Fergus and Dil is fraught with stress as Fergus seems tortured by guilt for the fatality of Jody (although Fergus enables him go, the soldier is still accidentally killed with a British container). This tension is an essential cinematic precursor to the movie's central storyline twist, which comes as a major delight to the looking at audience.

Before moving towards a critical appraisal of the revelation occurring within the relationship of Dil and Fergus, talk about must be made of how Neil Jordan manages to exploit the original notions of girl in film. By picking an androgynous looking professional to experiment with Dil, the director tricks the audience into believing a traditional heterosexual relationship between a man and a woman is going to take place - a romance rendered tragic by the loss both characters have already experienced. This coupling, in film history, has usually seen the man seducing the girl who serves as the visually beautiful centrepiece of the action.

"Within the celluloid brothel of the cinema, where the goods may be eyed endlessly but never purchased, the tension between the beauty of the woman, which is admirable, and the denial of the sexuality which is the source of this beauty but is also immoral, gets to a perfect impasse. "[2]

Therefore, when it slowly and gradually transpires that Dil is not yet another example of the cinematic female beauty but is actually a man, the sense of distress is all the more pronounced. Much like Butler's idea on the performativity of gender, Jordan ceases short of saying this development as an undeniable fact; instead, it is remaining open to conjecture as a philosophical question: will Dil's biology imply that he is a guy regardless of what or does the actual fact that he has assumed a female role imply that he has transgressed the gender split to become a girl in the ethnical sense? That is a key line of inquiry in radical feminist ideology and one that has no direct answer. For instance, although traditionalists would claim that no˜one can ever invert the gender with their delivery liberals would likewise declare that gender is a construct of society and that both males and females should be freely able to choose not only their sexuality but also their gender. This is a primary descendent of Judith Butler's Gender Trouble where the author argues the truth that women and men both perform the tasks of masculine and feminine without ever before questioning its validity in this way.

"Gender is. . . a development that regularly conceals its genesis; the tacit collective contract to perform, produce and support discrete and polar genders as ethnic fictions is obscured by the reliability of those productions - and the punishments that attend not agreeing to believe in them. "[3]

Fergus' respond to the realisation that Dil is a transvestite is typically male and typical of society's general horror at such transgressions of sexuality and gender. His first response is to punch Dil in the facial skin and retract his previous statements of devotion. He exits the arena, leaving Dil lying bloodied on the floor. Fergus' disgust is mirrored in the surprise experienced by the modern-day cinema audience, which was manifested in mass protests from Christian and conformist neighborhoods when the film was released both in the UK and abroad.

The director ensures never to over or under dramatise the revelation of Dil's transgression of gender, preferring instead to allow remainder of the story play out to the setting of the great shock of the ongoing marriage between your two main character types. Using the spectre of the IRA unexpectedly re˜showing up towards the end of the film, the audience is carried away from the notion of the performativity of gender to observe how Fergus can rise above his initial sense of disgust to save Dil from prison after the shooting of Fergus' old comrade, Jude. Oddly enough, Dil is compelled to murder Jude when it transpires that she possessed enjoyed a sexual romantic relationship with Jody as the soldier was in her captivity. Thus, there is no uncertainty that - in the end that has transpired - Dil still recognizes herself as a female and is straight challenged by a lot more obviously womanly Jude. At this point, mention must be made of the difference between Butler's notion of the performativity of gender and the type of transgender principles encapsulated in pull and cross˜dressing.

"In the majority of the works which may have followed in Butler's wake, pull (as the parodic enactment of gender) is represented as something you can choose to do: the imputation is that one may be whatever type of gender one wants to be, and is capable of doing gender in any manner one fancies. This is what you may call a voluntarist model of identity since it assumes that it's possible to easily and consciously create one's own personality. Whilst in many ways this voluntarist consideration of gender performance is in direct contrast with Butler's idea of performativity, it is also, at least partly, a rsulting consequence the ambiguity of Butler's own accounts of the difference between performance and performativity in Gender Trouble. "[4]

Appropriately, Neil Jordan never alludes to whether or not Dill is voluntarily transgressing gender or whether it is a biological necessity for man to have morphed into woman. This mirrors Butler's ambiguity and the ambiguity that pervades every aspect of the idea of crossing gender, which is one of the more intellectually challenging concepts for any world to grapple with. Eventually, though, The Crying Game ends with a hint of the director's views on the subject. During the last scene, which is set years later, Dil asks Fergus why he required the blame on her behalf. Recounting a youthful world, Fergus replies, "It's in my nature. " This implies that there is no choice with regards to gender, sexuality and performance. We are whatever we are.


The Crying Game is a challenging film that operates on a variety of levels. Politics, competition and gender are all at the mercy of scrutiny without being dealt with in a moralistic way. Judith Butler's notion regarding the performativity of gender is similarly a multifaceted research that has greatly influenced feminist ideology and has clearly infiltrated the mind of director Neil Jordan. In the ultimate analysis, there can be no doubt that there surely is a strong website link between the two without any simple, extensive˜based finish being submit by either get together. In both instances, it is remaining up to the audience and viewers to make their thoughts up involving gender and the wider issue of whether it's nature that constructs our sexual being or whether it's cultural nurturing that subconsciously motivates us to experiment with the tasks of heterosexual men and women. This is a hard sensible balancing act to maintain, yet additionally it is ultimately practical as both Crying Game and Gender Trouble arrive at the opinion that there can be no-one deduction that handles to fulfill everyone. The final outcome, like the decision of gender and sexuality, must in the end be wholly subjective.


Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identification London: Routledge

Carter, A. (1978) The Saideian Female and the Ideology of Pornography NY: Harper & Row

Featherstone, M. (Ed. ) (2000) Body Changes London: SAGE

Shaviro, S. (1993) The Cinematic Body: Theory out of Bounds, Level 2 Minneapolis and London: College or university of Minnesota Press

Stallybrass, P. and White, A. (1986) The Politics and Poetics of Transgression London: Routledge

Sullivan, N. (2003) A CRUCIAL Launch to Queer Theory Edinburgh: Edinburgh College or university Press

Weedon, C. (1987) Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory London and NY: Blackwell


The Crying Game (Neil Jordan; 1992)


[1] Weedon, C. (1987) Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory London and NY: Blackwell, p. 7

[2] Carter, A. (1978) The Saideian Female and the Ideology of Pornography New York: Harper & Row, p. 60

[3] Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble London: Routledge, p. 140

[4] Sullivan, N. (2003) A CRUCIAL Intro to Queer Theory Edinburgh: Edinburgh College or university Press, p. 87

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