How racism, gun culture and toxic masculinity are poisoning America
'You rape our women
and are taking over our country,'
said Dylann Roof just before he started shooting
inside Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina
...Dylann Roof’s white racial terrorism is an act of violence, and one that is grounded in a particular understanding of gender: “Male” or “female” are designations of human, sexual, biological difference. “Masculine” and “feminine,” however, are social constructs that are not fixed, which change over time, and in response to particular arrangements of social and political power. Here, gender is a type of performance (in its most binary and simple form) as a given person acts “male” or “female.” And toxic masculinity is a performance that emphasizes violence, control over others, sexual aggression, and a lack of emotion and vulnerability. Dylann Roof—with the guns, violence, resentment, right-wing politics, and racism—is the extreme embodiment of toxic white masculinity.
The color line is not separate from gender: The two are deeply connected to one another in the United States and the West more broadly. Dylann Roof’s performance of gender involved an understanding that he should have power over and was inherently superior to, people of color because of his skin color. Moreover, as understood by his racist political ideology, Dylann Roof was granted an additional claim on power and authority because he is a man.
Roof's racism and sexism thus intersect in what philosophers Carol Pateman and Charles Mills have described as “racial patriarchy.” This is system of racial domination in which people of color are subordinate to whites. It is also a relationship where white men have more power than white women. But all white people have a higher place than any person of color—either male or female. Women of color occupy the basement level of a society organized around a system of racial patriarchy.
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