Entering Into the Serpent

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In the chapter titled "Entering Into the Serpent," Chicana Writer Gloria Anzaldúa introduces the concept of the la facultad. According to Anzaldúa, la facultad is defined as the ability to put the depth of the soul into captivity. The faculty is responsible for capturing the soul and the self resides in the body rather than in reason. In the first stage, it is a survival instinct for those who have gone through oppression. It is the capability to sense danger through the feeling of tingling on the skin or smell. When la facultad gets into a deeper stage, it is all the things that disturb a person's common perception that disrupt their defenses and resistance. At this stage, the person can experience the soul.

In Anzaldúa’s community, a woman could only become a nun, a mother or a prostitute. However, it all changed with the introduction of education as there was the promise of independence. She chose to pursue education but not without criticism from her community According to Anzaldúa, human nature dictates that man fears the supernatural either divine or undivine. Anzaldúa (39) notes that "Culture and religion seek to protect us from these two forces. The female, by creating entities of flesh and blood her stomach […] by virtue of being in tune with nature's cycles, is feared." A woman was supposed to be protected from herself and other potential dangers. The message from the Christian Missionaries and Mexican traditions was that a mother ought to protect her child while at the same time submitting to men. It promoted the survival of the clan over an individual's existence. The realization together with her sexuality triggered Anzaldúa to question issues of conformity, being excluded and legitimacy. She states that "There is something compelling about being both male and female, about having an entry into both worlds. Contrary to some psychiatric tenets, half and half are not suffering from confusion of sexual identity, or even from confusion of gender." She acknowledges the person she is and clarifies of existence on the threshold that exceeds beyond definition. Her plurality connects her with the outcasts and the oppressed.

In the article by Peggy Orenstein's "What Makes a Woman and Woman,"  she talks about Caster Semenya the track star from South Africa who had to go through people questioning her biological sex. Semenya just like other black female athletes had to face the question of her femininity because of her masculine physical attributes. From Semenya’s experience questions of sexism and gender, verification arose. The author went through an experience which she related to Semenya when she was told she could remove her breasts and ovaries to avoid the chance of acquiring cancer owing to her genetic mutation. Just like la facultad, the author admits that she felt the most rational at a time when she feared for her health, and she had the option to make a crucial decision that would eternally affect her sexuality. Orenstein (2009) says," So I began to fret: without breasts or hormone-producing ovaries, what would the difference be, say, between myself and a pre-op female-to-male transsexual? Other than that my situation was involuntary? That seemed an awfully thin straw on which to base my entire sense of womanhood." She admits that biology defines us but has no meaningful contribution to the progress of women and their rights.

At a time where she felt threatened she realized that being male and female should not act as the basis of self-definition. Orenstein (2009) inquires, "why should being biologically male or female still be so critical to our self-definition? Is it nature — an evolutionary imperative to signal with whom we can reproduce? Is it nurture?" Everybody despite how they feel about their sexuality tends to identify either as male or female. She concludes that who we are is something that is internally driven. The need to identify as male or female originates from deep within and defies any explanation and transcends objectivity.

Michael Chabon's, "Faking It" is a mockery of the concept of masculinity in the United States. He ensures that one fills shame for fulfilling that image.  He promises never to admit to knowing he did not possess or claim unnecessary authority and not to hide that he was doubtful and uncertain as well as the fact he was regretful towards his children.  Chabon (2009) describes that a man as, "flooding everyone around you in a great radiant arc of bullshit." At one time his father tried to assemble a barbeque grill after disregarding the manual and when he failed even his mother was in shock. It is an indicator of male ignorance and dominance which is as acceptable.

When boys are growing up the men, they look up to their fathers to teach them the painful lesson that men should not fail, and they should conceal failure. As boys grow up, they are taught to be like their fathers and hence fathers have to act accordingly. Chabon (2009) indicates that "the trick of being a man is to give the appearance of keeping your head when, deep inside, the truest part of you is crying out." As such, men will act as if they are in control while deep inside they are aware that they have no power. Chabon realization makes him want to become different. Naturally, men act in a dominant manner because they want to be role models for their children.

Men like to accomplish tasks without any help to show that they are capable on their own and that is the reason will not stop to ask for directions. La facultad affected the way Chabon perceives masculinity. He chooses to not adhere to the standard ideas and concepts that are associated with manhood. With the use of parody, he demonstrates how other men undertake tasks with an air of authority which is not necessarily real especially in front of women. The author claims that he has mastered being a father to his children, but it has nothing to do with his gender. He avoids stifling his kids' sense of self even as their father. He has modeled his kids to be true to themselves, and he makes the business of fatherhood seem effortless.

Marginalization and oppression do not affect the outcast, and they are free from acceptance and victimization. They have an opportunity to get into a level of awareness that leads them to fully understand their condition and reconnect with their being that years of oppression have concealed. La facultad allows an individual to maintain calm even in the face of danger. It describes the ability to build and destroy simultaneously. A human being develops la facultad from fear, but they also lose their innocence. In the Article, What Makes a woman and woman, Orenstein realizes that sexuality is all in the mind and it is internally driven. In Faking It, makes a mockery of what the society expects from men and indicates the importance of accepting his shortcomings so that he could be a good father to his kids.

Works Cited

Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands: la frontera. Vol. 3. San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1987.

Chabon, Michael. Manhood for amateurs. HarperAudio, 2009.

Orenstein, Peggy. "What Makes A Woman A Woman?." Nytimes.Com, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/magazine/13FOB-WWLN-t.html.

 

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