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Anzaldua discusses the idea that mankind constructs social norms such as gender and race to be the accepted establishment by all. She expresses the idea that “there is something compelling about being both male and female, about having entry into both worlds” (Anzaldua 19), meaning that the labels [enforced] upon people by society place unnecessary limitations on people who are somewhere in between the two binaries. Since race and gender are both socially constructed ideas and not innate characteristics, who is to say that individuals cannot identify as multiple races or genders simultaneously? Both Fanon and Butler support Anzaldua in her viewpoint that the accepted social constructions hinder people from being whole in their identities.
Societal views of race are displayed in Anzaldua’s essay through her personal experience as a Latina woman submerged into white culture in her early adulthood. She found herself in displacement between the two identities; she is neither a fully integrated part of white culture, nor does she feel as though she can safely be herself as a Latina woman sought after by men of all races. “Petrified, she can’t respond, her face caught between los intersticios, the space between the different worlds she inhabits” (Anzaldua 20) and unable to find her identity within society. Similarly, Fanon experiences a struggle with racial identity in that he is a black man immersed in white culture being told to “resign [himself to his] color” (Fanon 107); however, he refuses to succumb to the idea that he will never achieve wholeness in his identity. By acknowledging that his “chest has the power to expand without limit” (Fanon 108), he counteracts societies constructed norms through confidence in himself for being “competent enough on the outside and secure enough on the inside to live life” (Anzaldua 21) outside of the societal confinement.
Societal views of homosexuality display a likeness in defying the socially constructed norm of male and female identity. Anzaldua points out that society misunderstands homosexuals in that it falsely supposes that the displacement felt comprises of a lack of sexual identity, when in reality, they tolerate “an absolute duality that says [they] are able to be only one [gender] or the other” (Anzaldua 19). The establishment puts a binary relationship on gender identification, and does not allow for gray areas in between the labels of male and female. Butler describes this relationship as a “re-enactment and re-experiencing of a set of meanings already socially established” (Butler 13); thus because this act is not reproduced by homosexuals, societal establishment rejects those who do not identify and act within the male and female gender binary. Oppression is thus put on homosexuals, which Anzaldua would agree can be avoided by changing one’s mindset of gender norms by acknowledging the “universality inherent in the human condition” (Fanon 3).
With our current societal mindset, homosexuality is not accepted as normal or conventional; Anzaldua explains that “the queer are the mirror reflecting the heterosexual tribe’s fear: being different, being other and therefore lesser, therefore subhuman, inhuman, nonhuman” (Anzaldua 18). Judgment occurs when people abiding by the constructed societal norms don’t see the concept of homosexuality to mean one person has two or more gender identities within themselves. Anzaldua identifies as “the hieros gamos: the coming together of opposite qualities within” (Anzaldua 19), embracing both male and female identities. Similarly, she identifies as both a Latina and a part of the white community that she has become acculturated to. No matter the context of the binary, social construction is not set in stone and has the ability to surpass and progress toward all lifestyles constructed and potentially universally accepted.
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