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Fetishized, sexualized and marginalized, Asian women are uniquely vulnerable to violence

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Researchers dit it was too early to say whether the crime had a racial motivation and instead pointed to the suspect’s assertion of a possible sex addiction.

But experts and activists argue that it is no coincidence that six of the eight victims were Asian women. And the suspect’s statements, they say, are rooted in a story of misogyny and stereotypes too familiar to Asian and Asian American women.

The way their race intersects with their gender makes Asian and Asian American women especially vulnerable to violence, said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group National Asian Pacific American Forum Forum .

And those factors came together this week in a dangerous and ultimately deadly way.

These perceptions are rooted in the history of the United States

Perceptions of Asian and Asian American women as submissive, hypersexual, and exotic go back centuries.

Rachel Kuo, a racial scholar and co-leader of the Asian-American feminist collective, points to legal and political measures throughout the country’s history that have shaped these harmful ideas.

One of the first examples comes from Pages Act of 1875.
This law, which came a few years before the Chinese Exclusion Act, was apparently enacted to restrict prostitution and forced labor. It was actually used systematically to prevent Chinese women from immigrating to the US, claiming they were prostitutes.

U.S. imperialism has also played an important role in these attitudes, Kuo said.

Atlanta police officers appear at the scene of a shooting at a spa in the city, one of three attacks that left several people dead.
Members of the U.S. service, while abroad for U.S. military activities (including the Philippine-American War, World War II, and the Vietnam War), have a history of requesting workers. sexual and sponsoring industries that encouraged sex trafficking. This favored denigrating stereotypes of Asian women as sex offenders, who were memorized on the screen.

All of these perceptions “have had the effect of excusing and tolerating violence by ignoring it, trivializing it, and normalizing it,” Kuo said.

They have affected Asian women financially

These stereotypes also fuel perceptions of “Asian women as cheap, disposable workers,” Kuo said. This has also made them financially vulnerable.

Asian American companies have already been hit especially hard during the pandemic, fueled by both unemployment and xenophobia.
Asian women, in particular, accounted for the highest percentage of long-term unemployed workers last December, according to a January report in the journal National Center for Women’s Rights.

And many Asian American women work in service industries, such as beauty salons, hotels and restaurants.

The narrative is lost because we are seen as the ‘model minority’, where they believe we are all lawyers, doctors and engineers, but we dig a little deeper and many of the women in our community work in the forefront. sectors based, ”Choimorrow of the National Asian Pacific American Women Forum said.

Other advocates also drew attention to the work situations of the recent victims.

“The fact that Asian women killed yesterday were working with highly vulnerable jobs and low wages during an ongoing pandemic speaks directly to the aggravated impacts of misogyny, structural violence and white supremacy,” said Phi Nguyen, director of litigation of Asian American Advancing Justice – Atlanta, said in a statement.

According to Esther Kao, organizer of Red Canary Song, an Asian and Asian American collective based on sex workers, Esther Kao, an organizer of Red Canary Song, is based on specialized risks in massage and sex workers.

He said these workers not only face stigma, but are also often migrants, meaning they run the risk of being deported if authorities investigate violence or crimes against them.

It is also important to note that not all massage companies provide sexual services, Kao said. Suggesting so much, as the suspect in the Atlanta area attacks did, is a “racist assumption,” he said.

“It is specifically related to the fetishization of Asian women,” Kao added.

They are shown in the violence seen today

Recent attacks occur while Asian Americans are living an increase in incidents of hatred and violence since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, echoing a historical pattern that has seen Asian Americans sign up in times of crisis because they consider themselves foreigners.

Groups monitoring violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders say their data show that women are disproportionately affected.

Flowers left by the welcome sit at the entrance to Young’s Asian massage spa in Acworth, Georgia, on March 17th.
There were about 3,800 hate incidents reported Stop AAPI Hate between March 19 last year and February 28 this year. Women were the target of a disproportionate proportion of these incidents, which accounted for 68% of reports, while men accounted for 29%, report found.
Melissa Borja, Assistant Professor of Asian American / Pacific Island Studies at the University of Michigan, posted on Twitter that she and another team of researchers observed a similar pattern.

Despite these findings, the degree to which Asian and Asian American women are specifically affected by hatred and violence often goes unnoticed, Choimorrow said.

“We become invisible when we talk about crimes against Asian Americans,” he said.

“It’s time for us to have a full conversation about our unique experiences and challenges, because of how society sees us specifically with this racialized gender lens.”

What is needed to address this issue is a systemic approach that recognizes the threats facing Asian and Asian American women, according to Choimorrow and others.

Because while Asian and Asian American women are being overlooked, the kind of violence seen in these recent attacks could happen again.

CNN’s Caitlin Hu contributed to this report.

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