I’m going to be quoting Butler who is quoting Newton in this section:
At its most complex, [drag] is a double inversion that says, “appearance is an illusion.” Drag says [Newton’s curious personification] “my ‘outside’ appearance is feminine, but my essence ‘inside’ [the body] is masculine.” At the same time it symbolizes the opposite inversion; “my appearance ‘outside’ [my body, my gender] is masculine but my essence ‘inside’ [myself] is feminine. (2549)
In regards to gender performance, there is an entire open spectrum in regards to application to literature. Some of Ernest Hemingway’s writings deal with the subject of sexual androgyny and the societal performance of gender. “Performance” of gender makes sense, especially in the twenty first century where gender roles have been blurred and the actually performance of one’s own gender is merely constructed through the lens of society and how the specific individual wishes to be viewed in public. Butler makes an interesting link between gender performance and masculine cross dressing, “I would suggest as well that drag fully subverts the distinction between inner and outer psychic space and effectively mocks both the expressive model of gender and the notion of a true gender identity” (2549). Dressing in drag or cross-dressing is a compelling societal commentary on gender ambiguity and gender roles. Butler is arguing that a male dressing as a female, or a female dressing as a male, signifies to the public and general society that they are appearing as one gender, while at the same time secretly being another gender on the inside. This blurs the lines of gender roles and almost makes them non-existent in this sense. Butler goes on to argue that “The notion of an original or primary gender identity is often parodied within the cultural practices of drag, cross-dressing, and the sexual stylization of butch/femme identities” (2549).
It feels as though Butler’s entire argument can be narrowed down to this section; that gender identities and issues are merely constructed and upheld by society as a whole. Without the lens of society gender identity and reflection would be much different and may be less of an impact on individuals and culture.