Claim Your Own: The Orlando Shooter Was a Product of US Hypermasculinity
Tariq Khan, wwwayward, June 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.