Cultural Thought Mold: Culture communicates a version of the world to those that undergo it through which it exercises control over their beliefs and perceptions. E.g., consider the preconception that “there are only 2 sexes,” that “being either male or female is the only way to be psychologically healthy,” or that “prisons rehabilitate prisoners.” This thought mold, as a result of affect people’s beliefs and perceptions, affects people’s behavior. E.g., the idea that “there are only 2 sexes” informs the practice of purely cultural cosmetic genital mutilation of children considered intersex. (Borderlands/La Frontera, 2nd Ed. Anzaldua 38)

 

 

Power Makes Culture: “Culture is made by those in power—men. Males make the rules and laws; women transmit them.” Because men (or any majority group) occupy positions of power, the power that they exercise is informed by their perspectives, interests, and desires, which, in their turn, create the specific content of culture. E.g., women had to fight for their right to vote, because the laws, which were written by men, enfranchised men but not women; laws throughout the history of the United States have favored white people over people of color and straight people over queer people. (Borderlands/La Frontera, 2nd Ed. Anzaldua 38)

 

 

Supernatural-Woman Fear: Anzaldua’s thesis is basically that “humans fear the supernatural” and that women are closer to the supernatural than men because of biologic-cultural and social-cultural distinctions; and because of these differences that locate her closer to the preternatural, she argues, woman is feared (perhaps esp. in a patriarchal culture). “The female, by virtue of creating entities of flesh and blood in her stomach (she bleeds every month but does not die), by virtue of being in tune with nature’s cycles, is feared. Because, according to Christianity and most other major religions, woman is carnal, animal, and closer to the undivine, she must be protected. Protected from herself. Woman is the stranger, the other. She is man’s recognized nightmarish pieces, his Shadow-Beast. The sight of her sends him into a frenzy of anger and fear.” (Borderlands/La Frontera, 2nd Ed. Anzaldua 39)

 

 

Childgirl Property Protection: “Culture (read males) professes to protect women. Actually it keeps women in rigidly defined roles. It keeps the girlchild from other men—don’t poach on my preserves, only I can touch my child’s body.” By ‘protecting’ women, men end up controlling them and treating them like children. E.g., a husband/father might prohibit his wife/daughter from wearing certain clothes because they’re “too revealing” or from traveling at night (esp. alone). Men who attempt (or merely profess) to love women relate to them more like a boss to a worker than to a loved one. (Borderlands/La Frontera, 2nd Ed. Anzaldua 39)

 

 

Imposed Humility: “In my culture, selfishness is condemned, especially in women; humility and selflessness, the absence of selfishness, is considered a virtue.” When such seemingly moral principles are over-emphasized in a particular group, such as women, they more and more translate into submission and subservience. In other words, a system of informal servitude is set up between men and women, and this excess taxation or burden on women can even be praised as ‘good.’ Consider the Protestant Ethic that encourages a similar sort of humility combined with hard work on the part of the worker and getting little in return, e.g. In the former case, you have men-over-women servitude, and in the latter, you have owner/boss-over-worker servitude. In short, when one group is expected to be more humble and another is expected to be less humble, the former gets away with less while the latter gets away with more. (Borderlands/La Frontera, 2nd Ed. Anzaldua 40)

 

 

Shadow-Queer: As we have seen with Becker’s concept of the relativity of deviance, “Deviance is whatever is condemned by the community.” Anzaldua adds to this idea that not only is deviance produced by making rules and corresponding condemnations of those who are thought to have broken the rules, but also deviance results in the community creating a ‘mirror’ that reflects the fears of the group. The implication seems to be that we project these fears onto deviants, and this generates our hostility toward them. “Most societies try to get rid of their deviants. Most cultures have burned and beaten their homosexuals and others who deviate from the sexual common. The queer are the mirror reflecting the heterosexual tribe’s fear: being different, being other and therefore lesser, therefore sub-human, in-human, non-human.” This also goes back to the fear of the supernatural. (Borderlands/La Frontera, 2nd Ed. Anzaldua 40)

 

 

Despot Duality: Many, perhaps all, social groups are subject to a despot duality that tells them and forces upon them the idea that “you must be either this or that.” E.g., a black person might be expected to “act black,” and when they don’t, when they “act white,” members of their community (black or otherwise) may try to call this out as abnormal and ridicule it. Effectively, they are saying “You can’t be both black (a social status) and white-acting (a way of behaving). You are either black or white.” Similarly, a person who is considered an ‘adult’ but also is free-spirited (like a child) and doesn’t abide by a number of social norms regarding how ‘adults should act’ is subject to negative criticism that attacks this confusion of the categories ‘child’ and ‘adult’: “You can’t be both. Well, you obviously can be, but we don’t like it.” As Anzaldua puts it, “half and halfs are not suffering from a confusion of sexual identity, or even a confusion of gender [or any other social statuses]. What we are suffering from is an absolute despot duality that says we are able to be only one or the other. It claims that human nature is limited and cannot evolved into something better. But I, like other queer people, am two in one body, both male and female. I am the embodiment of the hieros gamos: the coming together of opposite qualities within.” (Borderlands/La Frontera, 2nd Ed. Anzaldua 41)

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