White supremacy is the ugliest thing I have ever seen.

-Sherronda J. Brown

Content Warning: racialized sexual violence, Jeffrey Dahmer, dismemberment, necrophilia, cannibalism, hebephilia 

This is perhaps the most gruesome thing I have ever written, and I ask you to bear with me. It’s an extension of my discussion of erotic race play, which I assure you, I had not intended to return to so soon.

In my initial foray into the topic, I contemplated how people’s need to dominate what they hate can sometimes extend to sexual proclivities. This, I firmly believe, is why so many white supremacists fetishize and almost exclusively seek out Black people of all genders in their romantic and sexual conquests. And why Milo Yiannpoulos married a Black man. And why I’ve heard horror stories from Black men who have abruptly ended sexual encounters with white paramours after the words “nigger dick” were uttered in the throes of ecstasy (and, at the same time, I have also met Black men who love this). And why white men speak eloquently to me about wanting to experience the wonders of “Black pussy,” but then call me racial slurs after I reject them.

It’s also why so many men of all races are aroused by witnessing non-men—but especially women and femmes—in emotional, psychological, and physical pain, but especially sexual. Their misogyny is wrapped up with their sexuality—but that is a conversation for another day.

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I have a sociological interest in true crime, but especially in serial killers, of which Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most infamous. If you aren’t familiar with his atrocities, Dahmer murdered seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He was a hebephile (though, he would deny this until death), a necrophile, and a cannibal. Fourteen of his victims were people of color, and the majority of them were Black. That’s who he preferred because he found their bodies the most attractive.

The horror drama, My Friend Dahmer, hits theaters this Friday, but it will not interrogate the social climate that allowed Dahmer to flourish as a serial killer. It will instead focus on his high school years which culminated in his first murder. A documentary about Dahmer will premiere on Oxygen not long after the release of My Friend Dahmer. It focuses on interviews with Dahmer after his arrest in order to determine how a “once mild-mannered, handsome young man become one of history’s most terrifying and unexpected serial killers.” Rarely do discussions about Dahmer ever interrogate how anti-Blackness, racism, and homophobia contributed to his long reign, and it is not yet clear whether or not this documentary special will do so.

Dahmer’s fixation was in having complete domination over and possession of another person, someone who could never leave him. He was attempting to make a sort of zombified sex slave to exist under his total control because he hated when people moved during sex. This is why he became a murderer and a necrophile. The cannibalism came later, but it too was about total possession.

On the night of his arrest, cops searched his apartment and found several dismembered body parts, and among them were severed penises. Some of them, he had covered with foundation in order to make them look white, perhaps out of shame.

While there were several things at play that allowed Dahmer to kill for as long as he did—including the always-already presumed innocence of his blonde-haired, blue-eyed whiteness, the fact that his victims were queer, that they were mostly Black, and that many were also sex workers and drug users—a huge part of it was that he lived in a predominantly Black neighborhood where the police did not venture or answer distress calls consistently. 

Like the police department, Dahmer was deeply racist, despite his extreme obsession with and fetishization of Black bodies—and I use “bodies” intentionally because he did not see the men and boys as human. During his time in the military, Dahmer would often get belligerently drunk and hurl racial slurs at the Black servicemen. He was eventually discharged because of his alcoholism.

Dahmer’s dehumanization of his mostly Black victims is not so far removed from the ways in which Black people are always-already dehumanized by white supremacy to begin with. His covering a Black phallus with white foundation is comparable to how many white people attempt to “cover” their desire for Black people with anti-Black violence.

I recently came across an unfortunate story about an assault that took place in a middle school boys’ locker room, and it launched me into the train of thought from which this essay comes. A group of white boys forced two Black boys to simulate sex while screaming racial slurs at them and making racist jokes, all while recording video.

In these sexual acts, the white boys are physically, psychologically, and verbally dominating the Black boys. It’s traumatic to even read about, and even more traumatic to see images of. In some ways, more traumatizing than the crimes Dahmer committed, at least for me, but these are just two pieces to the same puzzle.

Milo Yiannopoulos marrying a Black man is yet another piece. His marriage to a Black man reminds me of Dahmer’s preference for Black bodies. Dahmer’s genital dismemberment of those bodies reminds me of the castration of past lynching victims. These white middle school boys’ assault of their Black teammates reminds me of the kind of erotic race play that I previously wrote about concerning Nazi furries and gay neo-Nazis. Their assault of these Black boys being performed as a communal act with video evidence reminds me of how lynchings become spectacles. The video documentation of their depravity reminds me of how these lynching spectacles were memorialized in photographs and postcards, essentially acting as pornography for whiteness to gratify itself through the act of remembering.

And all of this is akin to the sexual violence enslaved Africans experienced on the plantation—men, women, and children—and this violence was integral to the industry as a whole.

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The public response to the locker room video was largely a single resounding question: “Where did these kids learn this behavior?” The answer is not necessarily a simple one, but it is not necessarily complicated either when you consider how white supremacy operates.

When the very system of whiteness that you have been indoctrinated into since birth is a sexual fantasy in and of itself, it follows that white supremacy would manifest itself through sexual violence. When anti-Blackness is central to this system, sexual desire for Black people has to be coded as hatred, dehumanization, and violence. It’s a rationalization of sorts, albeit a grotesque one.

People’s desire to dominate whomever they hate extends to sexual proclivities, but in sexual violence there also exists a need to both possess and destroy that which they are ashamed of desiring.

White supremacy is the ugliest thing I have ever seen—producing literal monstrosities—and its hideousness cannot be addressed without deconstructing white sexuality, and the racial fetishism tied up in its violence.