In Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990) Judith Butler posits that “the gendered body is performative” and “that it has no ontological status apart from the various acts which constitute its reality”. This arguement is echoed by Moe Meyer in the Introduction to The Politics and Poetics of Camp (1994), where he suggests that “the Self” is “performative, improvisational, discontinuous and processually constituted by repetitive and stylized acts.” Both are suggesting that there is no self without performance, that we are defined by our actions and utterances, that we cannot be defined except by what we do.
Where does self-identity fit with respect to these statements? When one self-identifes as queer, or if a woman identifies as male, but there is no outward performative action or statement to this effect, is identifying considered an act? Is thought performative, or does a performance always need to involve social discourse with others? In this scenario, is the discourse internal, between the self and the imagined self?