Claim Your Own: The Orlando Shooter Was a Product of US Hypermasculinity
Claim Your Own: The Orlando Shooter Was a Product of US Hypermasculinity
By Tariq Khan / wwwayward.com
Jun 13, 2016

Like so many others, I’ve been at a loss for the past two days, trying to make sense of the heinous act of anti-queer mass murder in Orlando. The following are some of my scattered thoughts on the topic, some of which I originally posted in a couple of rants on social media the past two mornings:

I have family members and friends who are queer, immigrants, Muslim, or all three, and who are very worried about the proliferation of the harmful imperialist ideology that comes with characterizing the murderer Omar Mateen as “ISIS,” “jihadist,” “Muslim,” in short – foreign, other, not of the United States. They recognize that this discourse carries with it repressive power that harms queer, Muslim, and immigrant communities. I’ve seen discussion on social media blaming the patriarchal culture of Afghanistan. What this discourse fails miserably to notice is that Mateen was not from Afghanistan. He was born and raised in the United States. He went to US schools. He watched US movies and television shows. He played in US neighborhoods. He shopped at US malls. He worked for US companies. He was socialized in the United States. He was a United States citizen from birth. So if we’re going to interrogate patriarchal culture, and I think we should, let’s start with the United States.

For the past year, I’ve been teaching a US Gender History course to undergrads at the university. One of the things I emphasize is the interconnectedness of US imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, and violent masculinity. I’ve learned, and continue to learn, from Black, Brown, Indigenous, “third-world,” anti-colonial, Queer, and working-class feminist scholars, organizers, and activists about the many ways cis-hetero-patriarchy is historically intertwined with histories of capitalism, imperialism, and white supremacy. I try to share that knowledge with my students. The violence committed by Mateen has US hyper-masculinity written all over it.

He idolized cops, fetishized guns, hated queer people, hated Black people, abused his ex-wife, used steroids, and worked for G4S, which is a multinational corporation that profits from technologies of social control, prisons, colonialism, and border imperialism (see chap. 4 of Angela Davis’s “Freedom is a Constant Struggle” for a discussion of what G4S is). This was a guy who thoroughly internalized US ideals of “manliness.” He was the product of a long history of patriarchal values in US culture and politics. He over-conformed to the ideal of “manliness” that all of us cis-men in the United States were socialized — through family, coaches, teachers, religious leaders, media, etc. — from childhood to internalize.

We’ve got to destroy the gender ideology — which is deeply intertwined with white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism — that underlies this murderous violence. That means nothing less than social, political, cultural, and economic revolution. At the very least, it means we need to start recognizing that one of the most harmful things we teach boys is that they need to toughen up and “be a man.” And we can’t ignore the role of hetero-patriarchal religion in perpetuating these toxic notions of “manliness.” Mateen believed he was defending his family from the threat posed by homosexuality. He was angry that his son saw two men kissing. He needed to defend the family from “the gays.” Every church leader and mosque leader who has been perpetuating this “family vs. gays” discourse, from Mormonism, to Catholicism, to Evangelical Christianity, to Islam, and more, is complicit. Every politician, who, in the name of “Christian values,” has worked to pass legislation that marginalizes and devalues LGBTQ people is complicit. And every “good citizen” who votes based on hetero-patriarchal “family values” is complicit. We’ve got to tear down this whole system, and that means tearing down these anti-queer religious leaders with their hypocritical and disingenuous “hate the sin, love the sinner” nonsense.

Lastly, I want to praise my Queer and Muslim comrades who have been working to forge Queer/Trans and Muslim solidarities. They are queer people who challenge Islamophobia, pinkwashing, and colonialist belief systems within their own queer communities. They are Muslims who challenge cis-hetero-patriarchy within their own religious communities. And they are queer Muslims of color at the intersections of all of these violent systems fighting for their lives in a hateful world. Both the heinous act of mass murder against LGBTQ people and the opportunistic abuse of that tragedy to justify increased targeting of Muslims demonstrate how crucial their work is. We fight hatred, ignorance, and systemic injustice with revolutionary solidarity.

0.0 ·
0

Support Films For Action

Films For Action empowers citizens with the information we need to help create a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

We receive no government or corporate funding and rely on our supporters to keep us going. Donate today.

Trending Today
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga19,993 views today ·
Why I've Started to Fear My Fellow Social Justice Activists
Frances Lee7,290 views today ·
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque5,941 views today ·
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine2,143 views today ·
There Is No One Right Way to Be an Activist
Tim Hjersted2,054 views today ·
What Do You Think About When You Hear People Say That 'We're All One'?
Tim Hjersted1,703 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min1,629 views today ·
Reboot Your Life: 20 Mental Barriers You Should Let Go Of
Gilbert Ross1,573 views today ·
Lao Tzu's Four Rules for Living
Azriel ReShel1,496 views today ·
Load More
Join us on Facebook
Claim Your Own: The Orlando Shooter Was a Product of US Hypermasculinity