“Me and my brothers are one. Welcome to my world. Being part of me means you will never feel alone, my whore. Always a helping hand, always a warm embrace. They’ll take care of you too, you’ll be part of them. And you’ll discover the joy of swimming in the seas of pure love”
- @Batojoon, Twitter, 27 November 2020, 6:54PM
Poor images of brown machos, always buff like crazy, adorned with thick facial hair, and tatted up. Sometimes they’re at the gym or smoking argileh or clutching a gun or simply glaring into the distance. Their fingers hold subha or a cigarette or are wrapped around a dumbbell or are ornate with gold rings or clenched into a fist. The faces are always different but their unifying features are their possession of an Oriental masculine essence that allows for the writer behind @Batojoon to enliven a vivid fantasy through accompanying Tweets. Sometimes they read as proclamations: “The Iranian man knows his place. And his whore knows her place too… There is no punishment because every slap comes from deep love.” Sometimes inspirational: “Always be proud. Of being whore, of being man or woman… I am a proud refugee. Proud bisexual, proud vagina breeder and ass destroyer.” Bato’s identity itself is a mystery, a rando snatching and repurposing images from corners of the internet, an anonymous writer on the other side of this Twitter profile animating a persona. A digital masquerade. Yet we equally know exactly who Bato is. He loves hard and is sexually ravenous. He protects and abuses. There is an unbreakable power relation between Bato and his followers that he makes very clear— “my harem is more than 3.500 batowhores”— they are his whores, they are in his harem, and he is their master.
A quick scroll through the replies to Bato’s enigmatic tweet’s quickly reveals that they are appealing to Orientalist faggot desires. Christopher Camp, a white Baltimorean man, responds to Bato saying “I am a devoted disciple of yours always… I am also getting ready to convert to Muslim”. An account named white pig need a real life master responds with an image of themselves, gagged with a lip shaped ring, belted around their head, and hooked into the nostrils, holding a piece of paper. Written shakily with black marker is “@FAGSMITCHELL IS WHITE WEAK LOSER FOR MUSLIM.” Fundamentally, the Orientalist faggot “[projects] desires deemed unacceptable or forbidden at home onto a foreign terrain, in order to reencounter those desires.” This can occur in multiple ways, though Batojoon calls to an imagination of what Boone describes as “third-world ‘macho’ cultures” (excuse the outdated language). Boone goes onto describe that within these ‘cultures’ “the gender of the body being penetrated is irrelevant as long as the masculinity of the penetrator remains intact.”1 The preservation of the Muslim tops masculinity within this imaginary, is the foreign terrain onto which Orientalist faggot’s desires are projected. Desires for domination, forbidden love, taboo… but that is besides the point. What I find more compelling, is the way this foreign terrain for desire projection is imagined and constructed. Why is it that the brown body is fetishised here? @Batojoon points directly to its contemporary formations and influences within visual culture.
The source of the images posted on @Batojoon are difficult to discern, likely shoddy screenshots from random public Instagram’s and Facebook’s with the web trail to the original’s cropped out using the janky Twitter photo editor. Identities are obscured amidst the sheer quantity of haphazardly ripped images. Brown skin and buff bodies are emphasised. Race becomes the central unifier of these men, all broadly brought together for possessing this ‘Middle Eastern, Arab, or Muslim’ appearance, a post-9/11 identity category that “reflects a racialization wherein members of this group are identified as terrorists…”2
Though added to these images is that the writer behind @Batojoon actively embeds characteristics of ‘personality defect’ into the images of these men to harken to a kind of terrorist sensibility. The personality defect model of understanding the terrorist holds that “fundamental and pathological defects” resultant from the pitiful conditions of social upbringing are what compel terrorist violence.3 Bato calling his twitter his “harem” and his followers his “whores”, his sexually abusive and forceful characteristics, and his expression of a cis-heterosexual dynamic in homosexual intercourse…
“You are not passive. You are a woman. You don’t have a butthole, you have a juicy and warm vagina. You are not fucked, you are bred and pregnant. And you are never a “useless faggot”. You are my beautiful whore.”
…he calls upon this western positing of “a kind of failed heterosexuality” on the terrorist and thus brown men.4 Recall the blasé media coverage of women and girls experiencing human rights abuses by ISIS in favour of voyeuristic stories focusing on the sexual dynamics between ‘ISIS brides’ and militants.5 Or the conviction with which the heavenly reward of virgins for martyrdom in jihad was touted as a primary motivation for Islamic terrorist activity.6 On a more local level, the characteristic of failed heterosexuality being posited on brown men was seen when Islam’s perceived infliction of sexual deprivation was made out to be the primary cause of Lebanese-Australian Bilal Skafs abhorrent coordinated gang rapes of white Australian women.7
These are the dominant representations that inform the characterisation of the men in these images that Bato rips and pulls from the crevices of the internet with Edward Said’s most prototypical description of the Orient: “irrational, depraved.”8 This imagination of the “hyper-virile other” is also deeply rooted in Orientalist art history, the sexist construction of this “myth of ‘pure’ unspoiled masculinity [in the East] constructed out of late-nineteenth-century Anglo-European worries that its male population had become too civilised, too soft, too enervated in a world in which the sexes were more equal and everyday life no longer beset by violence and hazard.”9 @Batajoon’s harem, as an artefact of homosexual desires, acts as a demonstration of where this Orientalist faggot fetishisation of brown men emerges from: the depraved terrorist.
I couldn’t quite describe why I was so compelled by this account upon first discovering it, but I think it was just that. Within it, were occurring all of the non-cognitive assumptions, that I could sense but could not articulate, about the way I felt I was being perceived as a brown cyber-faggot on cyber-faggot apps and AFK. Of course, the distinct racial construction of men from Muslim backgrounds in Australia is a whole other phenomenon. We are Lebs. Michael Mohammad Ahmad highlights the social construction of this identity in the Australian imagination in his novel The Lebs. His Alawite Australian-Lebanese narrator Bani reflects on a conversation concerning 9/11 with Osama, who is Indonesian, and Shaky who is mixed-race white Australian Lebanese:
“Most days I feel like Osama, Shaky and I are the same breed of dog but today I become more conscious of our differences. This event will be blamed on the Lebs just like the gang rapes and drive-by shootings. But it is me, the only full blooded Lebo among us , who feels any grief for the people who plummeted from the summit. Maybe I’m not the real Leb. Maybe Leb isn’t something you’re born with; maybe it's something you earn while you’re in the gutter.”10
Bani predicting that 9/11 will be “blamed on the Lebs” and in the same breath distinguishing himself as “full-blooded” despite being the “same breed of dog” as Osama and Shaky is Ahmad’s gesture to the Australian adaptation of that post-9/11 identity category. A catch-all Muslim-looking racial category that is interwoven with assumptions of criminality and terrorism which emerges particularly in Western Sydney. An identity which flattens the complex existences that form a tapestry that spans from Morocco to Indonesia in favour of an easily policeable body. I guess that is the unique axis on which my chubby hairy wog body is fetishised on those sinister cyber-faggot apps and AFK. A sexually depraved Leb, afflicted by the tight grip of Islam on his cock. Fags like Christopher Camp and @FAGSMITCHELL who exist within the 10-or-so-kilometre-radius of the Leb are rendered on the cyber-faggot app. They chase, attempting to rescue his terrorist cock from the grip, with messages reading “looking for middle eastern top very discrete I host” and “❤️ muslim domination”. Little do they know that grip doesn’t exist 😢. Or rather, it is the grip of their own hand 🍆✊.
The whole world is fraud and fantasy, no wonder there is racism against Muslim men in the West. I already am your taboo. I represent all your desire. Irrational. Let yourself go. Dream, make up stories. How can they know who is a real man? Vapid bottom fags. You made me. Your personality, your ideas, your beliefs. But the question is: do you love diversity too? Do you accept your man breeder as he is? Think about it. I hate people against sissies. I wish I could punch their stupid faces. Feminine men are so beautiful. I hate people who avoid fats or Asians or black. Who do you think you are you cunt?
- J.A. Boone, The Homoerotics of Orientalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 5, 68.
- L. Volpp, ‘The Citizen and the Terrorist’, UCLA Law Review, 49/5 (2002), 1576.
- J.K. Puar & A.S. Rai, ‘Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots’, Social Text, 20/3 (2002), 122-123.
- J.K. Puar & A.S. Rai, ‘Monster, Terrorist, Fag’, 124.
- N. Jaffer, ‘The secret world of Isis brides: 'U dnt hav 2 pay 4 ANYTHING if u r wife of a martyr’’, The Guardian (25 June 2015), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/24/isis-brides-secret-world-jihad-western-women-syria
- J.K. Puar & A.S. Rai, ‘Monster, Terrorist, Fag’, 124.
- D. Fickling, 'Racially motivated crime and punishment’, The Guardian (23 September 2002), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/sep/23/worlddispatch.australia
- E. Said, Orientalism (New York: Random House, 1979), 40.
- J.A. Boone, The Homoerotics of Orientalism, 91.
- M.M. Ahmad, The Lebs (Sydney: Hachette, 2018), 54.