an epitaph for justice

white / male supremacy

Chanequa Walker-Barnes (adapting prior work by Andrea Smith) drew a framework on four pillars of White supremacy: Commodification, Extermination, Demonization, Indoctrination. Commodification is the process of exploiting people for their labor. Extermination is killing people or their cultural mitosis. Demonization is marking people as an other and enemy. Indoctrination is when people are forced to assimilate and adopt the supremacist culture. I posture that this framework can be more broadly utilized to reference any form of supremacy.

While many have drawn connections as to how White supremacy may have played a role in a White, Evangelical man (whom I purposefully refuse to name here) targeting massage parlors with Asian workers and murdering eight people, the murderer specifically gave his reason: “sex addiction.”

As a former and recovering addict, there are two clear things that are off:

  1. Anyone who has gone through any recovery program likely has heard of the 12 steps, the first being on acknowledging personal powerlessness over the problem. This man instead sought to enact power over others and blame them for his own failure.
  2. When Jesus mentions in Matthew 5 that “if your right eye” or “right hand” causes one to sin, it is better to cut it off than for the whole body to perish — he clearly is not instructing people to destroy others. Matthew 15:19 is direct: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.”

Misogyny and toxic masculinity are just different sides of the coin of male supremacy (which seems a more relatable word than patriarchy which is used by scholars). Misogyny is how women are commodified, exterminated, and demonized. Toxic masculinity is how men enact misogyny upon themselves, refusing to acknowledge their God-given capacity for empathy and nurturing. Just as White supremacy is built upon a myth of “not a single drop of color” — male supremacy is built upon the lie that man is the exact opposite of anything associated with woman.

The White, Evangelical man? He had commodified women, either virtually or physically from his use of porn and seeking sex workers. He had demonized women, seeing them as the enemy and the source of his problems. Finally, he acted from the position as a male supremacist to kill women that he did know. It is not a stretch to see how his chosen venues of murder were also directly tied with having commodified Asian women, demonizing Asian women, and finally seeking to kill Asian women. There is no evidence that any of people killed were sex workers nor are all sex workers Asian (the latter being another conversation on the fetishization and exploitation of Asian women). After attacking three separate Asian massage parlors, his next move was to go to another state to continue his rampage on similar locations. Yet other, very explicit “porn industry” related businesses nearby were not targeted.

In many ways, as a Taiwanese American, feel numb to this violence and yet another sign to how white supremacy is a culture of death. But as a man, I also know that I have a role in dismantling male supremacy in myself and then in the world around me. Justice and healing always begins with ourselves.

St. Joseph, pray for us, especially men to serve and love as you did. St. Mary, pray for us, especially Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels, the other four women who were killed, and any people who have been exploited for sex. Jesus, have mercy on us sinners.