Culture encompasses objects and symbols, such as media, race, gender, and education. The meaning of these objects pervades in the broader social and cultural life. Therefore, certain patterns, traits, and institutions are linked to different societies, and they unfold through practices and belief systems. The diversity of culture, entwined with civilization, has led to controversies and arguments in the scholarly world. Many researchers have been at the forefront to either rebuke or promote particular societal patterns and experiences. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks visualize some of the cultural objects that have been at the center of discussion for a long time. While Butler focuses on sex, gender, and sexual orientation in Western culture, Fanon enlightens readers on the impact of black identity.
Judith Butler’s Main Argument
In her book Gender Trouble, Judith identifies one of the most unsettled challenges at the center of feminism. The author disputes the distinction between sex as a natural given category and gender as an acquired social, cultural category. Butler claims that just like gender, sex is socially constructed and stems from social and cultural practices. The author constantly undermines the hetero-normative society that defines sexual relations based on the anatomy of the body. Judith argues that it is not always the case for men to be attracted to women and vice versa. She disapproves of the conventional hetero-normative alignment by stating that the possession of a female body does not imply a subject will identify with the female gender. In fact, according to the author, one is not born a woman but rather, becomes a woman (Butler 4). As such, Butler justifies acts such as homosexuality and other forms of sexual orientation that may be unacceptable in some societies.
Frantz Fanon’s Main Argument
Black Skin White Masks by Frantz Fanon portrays appearance as a mechanism of knowledge, power, and pleasure that has functioned to fix the black body, both as an object of desire and fear. The author is particularly interested in the experience of black people from French-colonized islands. He utilizes psychoanalysis to depict the inadequacy felt by the black people and paints the white individuals as having a deep sense of fear for educated blacks. The author narrates that irrespective of the high education standards that blacks may attain, they will be despised by the whites. Thus, Africans will look onto themselves as inferior, and the only way out is to appropriate and imitate their colonizers by studying abroad and mastering the foreign language. Nonetheless, as blacks are encouraged to become white, they experience serious psychological torture because they cannot (Fanon 45). Thus, to Fanon, blacks do not naturally feel inferior. Rather, the feeling is driven by racism, which promotes white supremacy and creates an inferiority complex among the Africans. In other words, the author regrets that people are reduced to their race instead of being seen as unique humans.
Comparing the Two Texts
Both Butler and Fanon are in tandem, especially in addressing the social prejudice that has led society to the abyss of discrimination and biases. In their texts, the authors disrupt injustices that have only been justifiable by an incorrect attitude. Butler and Fanon bring out cultural objects, such as race, sex, and gender, that have been used as a weapon to instill inferiority complex among the marginalized groups. Judith favors the disruption of the perceived gender binary that has been responsible for compulsory patriarchy and heterosexuality. Embracing Butler’s thoughts would solve conflicting sprees that have been associated with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer groups. Society, which has been judgmental, can have a more receptive approach towards different groups of people. Fanon’s assertions merge with those of Judith. Frantz extends Butler’s efforts of awakening society by addressing racial consciousness and rebukes the feeling of dependence and inadequacy portrayed by the blacks and the antagonism that the whites direct towards Africans. Fanon refutes the belief system that one race is superior to another.
From my point of view, I find Frantz Fanon’s work more persuasive than Judith Butler’s. While Judith relays vital information from her text, her book is more difficult to read and has many references to other philosophers that readers should know to understand her message. Butler builds off theories and writings and references structuralists and post-structuralist theory while citing feminist theorists and critiquing their texts. As such, readers must be familiar with external concepts that she constantly uses. Nevertheless, her work is valuable and elaborates on the rhetoric of gender and sex in society. Conversely, I consider Fanon’s text to be classic and one that can endure relevance to different groups of people. Fanon’s text is self-reflective, philosophical, poetic, and fundamental in the contemporary constellation of intellectuals and activists.
Fanon’s tone is exigent and theorizes the uncomfortable facts surrounding racism. The author envisions some cultural objects in social relations and power that are considered normal yet sabotage some of the basic human rights. The author combines literary analysis, lived experiences, and critical approaches to examine the impact of colonization on objects such as language and interracial relationships. I consider Fanon’s work significant in internalizing and reproducing whiteness amid black individuals. I strongly agree with the author’s idea that colonization happened because of the strong sense of inferiority among the Africans who had a pre-existing unconscious desire. I am convinced that the book’s call for the whites and blacks to turn their backs on inhuman voices is an authentic way to fight racism in a society marred with social prejudice. Fanon’s book provides an emotional and illuminating experience focused on supremacy contradictions.
Culture is a way of life with a significant impact on society. Social prejudice is at its best in most cultural contexts, and the underlying evils are easily penetrating and influencing patterns and behavior. Frantz Fanon and Judith Butler address some of the most challenging beliefs that are rooted deep in history. While Fanon is concerned with how the blacks are trying to fit into the Western culture to improve their reputation, Judith Butler disapproves of the disproportionate definitions of gender and sex. The authors scrutinize social evils perpetrated in the cultural context and recommend a change in the status quo. Both Fanon and Butler’s texts are in synchronism and address societal issues that have led to discrimination. Nevertheless, Fanon’s work is more persuasive compared to Butler’s, which appears difficult to comprehend for the general audience.
Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Pp. Vii- 46. Routledge
Fanon, Frantz. 2008 [1952.] Black Skin, White Masks. Introduction, chapters 1-3, Grove Press.