After eight people, including six Asian women, were killed this week in shootings near Atlanta, a law enforcement official said that, in the shooter’s own words, his actions were “not racially motivated”, but caused by “sex addiction”. The official, Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, where one of the three massage businesses targeted by the white man was located, added that the investigation was in its early stages. But the implication escaped no one: it had to be one motive or another, not both.
Understandably, this insinuation was met with anger and disbelief by many Asian American women, for whom racism and sexism have always been intertwined – racism often takes the form of unwanted sexual attacks, while sexual harassment is often overtly racist. As with the rest of the world, this sad realization comes shortly after reports of anti-Asian attacks surged after the Trump administration repeatedly stressed China’s connection to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As reported by The New York Times, “there is evidence that most hate, unlike other types of harmful crimes, has been directed against women.” Captain Baker’s briefing on the Wednesday March 17 bombings included a claim that the defendant, who is white, had had ‘a really bad day’, which many women saw as another way to excuse the violence against them. A very bad day, really?
His comments were widely criticized and it was later discovered that he had encouraged the sale of a anti asian t shirt. Following the news, the sheriff’s office later said in a statement that the captain’s remarks were “not intended to disrespect any of the victims” or to “express empathy or sympathy. for the suspect”. Once again, the authorities seemed to completely miss the point.
Asian women, in general, have long been victims of misogyny as well as violence, by men of all races (including Asian men). Asian American women, specifically, have long been stereotyped as sexually submissive, portrayed in popular culture as exotic and manipulative, or as inherently superior to other women in ways that completely obliterate their personality.
Our generation grew up watching mean girls, not even noticing Tina Fey’s blatant anti-Asian jokes and obvious disrespect towards the Asian community. In the United States, men routinely approach Asian women with ghastly lines such as “I’m so horny, I’ve loved you for a long time” delivered in weird, broken English.
Sung Yeon Choimorrow, the executive director of Asia-Pacific American Women’s National Forum (NAPAWF), said that when she first came to the United States to attend college in 2000, she was “stunned, stunned, horrified” by how frequently she was approached by strangers who claimed to like Korean women.
The men, she said, ranged in age from very young to very old, and never seemed to understand that their attention was unflattering. “I have experienced racism. I have experienced sexism. But I never experienced both like that like I did when I came to the United States.
With that in mind, it’s part of the reason many Asian American women saw this week’s shooting as the culmination of this racialized misogyny. Federal data suggests that across the country, the victims of the most violent hate crimes are men.
Yet, according to The New York Timesa recent analysis led by a group called Stop AAPI Hate, which collects reports of hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, said that of nearly 3,800 incidents recorded in 2020 and 2021, more than two-thirds of the reports came from women. This highlights the fact that crimes against Asian women are mostly unexplained.
As of now, very little is known about the Atlanta shooter’s motivations, but organizations that track hate crimes have been paying increasing attention to misogyny as a “gateway drug” to other types of crime. extremism, such as violent racism, following the massacre. of 10 people in Toronto in 2018 by a incel.
Meanwhile, the fetishization of Asian women has a long history initially shaped by United States law and policy. the Pages Act of 1875which ostensibly banned the importation of women for the purpose of prostitution, effectively barred Chinese women from entering the country, while laws banning intermarriage left male Chinese immigrants perpetually celibate.
Abroad, poverty and war spawned a prostitution industry that provided cheap sex to American servicemen in Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam, deepening stereotypes of Asian women as objects. exotic sex or manipulative women trying to ‘trap American husbands’.
Hate and violence against Asian Americans, especially Asian American women, is nothing new. As investigators continue to assess whether the shootings were racially or gender-motivated, Asian American women already have the answer. It’s both.