Dear Friends,

IGGI stands with others against AAPI hate and calls attention to racialized harassment and racialized sexual harassment (i.e., targeting victims due to both race, sex and/or gender).

Stopping these hate incidents requires broad education regarding a history of bias and discrimination in these domains.

Notably, the anti-Asian attitudes that have become apparent in today’s media are not new, although they have been heightened by events during the coronavirus pandemic.

Below are excerpts from an April 2, 2021 paper/article manuscript and talk delivered by IGGI’s Dr. Loan Le at Western Political Science Association’s annual Asian and Pacific Islander American mini-conference regarding racialized sexual harassment of Asian American women.


Excerpts from Le, Loan (April 2, 2021). “Explanatory Factors for Underreports of Sexual Harassment Among Asian American Women.” Paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Western Political Science Association Asian and Pacific Islander American mini-conference panel “Mobilizing Asian America: Civic Education and Political Activism.”

In and around Atlanta on March 23, 2021, a white man named Robert Long allegedly murdered eight people, six of whom were Asian women at area spas.

During press conferences following the killing spree, “Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office stated that the events were the result of the suspect having ‘a really bad day’,” leaving the impression that he accepted the suspect’s contention that these shootings were not racially motivated (i).

Other reporting underscored that the suspect denied his actions were racially motivated; rather, Robert Long admitted to having psychological issues related to sex addiction (ii).

The Atlanta incidents were perpetrated by someone who exoticized, dehumanized and denigrated his victims as threatening and dispensable objects.

The sheriff's office...told officials about a ‘temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate’” (iii). Some advocates remark on a key logic: “‘If they were not Asian women, they probably wouldn't be viewed as sexual objects of desire, and they wouldn't be automatically assumed to be sex workers,’ Nguyen said. ‘There's a hatred for both sex workers and immigrants and being Asian and being women, and they all intersect. It would be irresponsible to not talk about all of those parts’” (iv).

Sharon Chang, writing for Racism Review, observed based on an evaluation of Google keywords and search results that Asian females face “a particularly severe level of fetishization”: Her search for “Asian women” (and other keywords) turned up twice as many results for Asian females compared to females from other groups, reflecting both interest and a focus on looks, relationships and hypersexualization instead of on leadership or other qualities: “But the extra results were accounted for by the fact that almost half of entries for Asian women were advertisements for sex, dating, and marriage...The search for ‘Asian women’ was the only one to list sex ads in the main result column first. Additionally, their acute hyper-sexualization was the only one framed in special relationship to white men: ‘Asian Women Want YOU NOW,’ ‘42 Seriously Hot Asian Women To Get You Through Monday,’ ‘Rules of Attraction: Why White Men Marry Asian Women...’ and ‘Asian Women And White Men’”(viii). The analysis is one indicator of the extent to which Asian American women are objectified, exoticized and hypersexualized. 

Nian Hu (2016) observes in the Harvard Crimson that “‘Being Asian means that when I walk down the streets, I am catcalled with “Ni hao ma!” as well as the usual “Hey sexy!” And that’s why we can’t pretend that yellow fever is nothing more than an innocent preference for straight black hair and almond-shaped eyes. It is rooted in a long history of fetishization’” (ix).

Incidents wherein Asian women are targeted for both reasons of race and gender are not unique. Professor Russell Jeung “told NBC Asian America that the coalescence of racism and sexism, including the stereotype that Asian women are meek and subservient, likely factors into this disparity” (x).

Asian women were  2.3 times more likely than Asian men to report hate incidents based on data collected by #StopAAPIHate over the last year (xi). Reports underscored the harassment that Asian American received due jointly to sexism and racism.

“One Chinese American woman reported that a “man on the subway slapped my hands, threatened to throw his lighter at me, then called me a ‘c---- b----.’ He then said to ‘get the f---out of NYC.’” Another woman, who’s Filipino American, reported that while in a Washington, D.C., metro station with her boyfriend, a man shouted "Chinese b----" at her, coughed at the couple and physically threatened them” (xii).

Featured Image Source: Washington Post Comments (March 28, 2021). Korean groups rally on the Mall to decry racism after deadly attacks in Atlanta by Ian Duncan (March 27, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/atlanta-asian-memorial-washington/2021/03/27/83f48bc6-8f27-11eb-9423-04079921c915_story.html

Endnotes

(i) Consider also: “On the same day that Georgia law enforcement officials downplayed racist motives in the Atlanta-area massacre, federal intelligence agencies released an alarming report about the ongoing spread of domestic terrorism. “Racially motivated violent extremists, such as white supremacists, were most likely to conduct mass casualty attacks against civilians while militias typically targeted law enforcement and government personnel and facilities,” the report said. “Lone offenders or small cells of extremists were more likely than organizations to carry out attacks.” Graham, Renée (March 18, 2021). “A massacre targeting Asians in Georgia wasn’t a ‘bad day.’ It was a hate crime.” Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/03/18/opinion/massacre-targeting-asians-georgia-wasnt-bad- day-it-was-hate-crime/

(ii) Associated Press (Mar 18, 2021). Georgia sheriff regrets spokesman’s ‘bad day’ comments about Atlanta spa shootings suspect. Retrieved from https://fox40.com/news/national-and-world-news/georgia-sheriff-regrets-spokesmans-bad-day-comments-about-atlanta-spa-shootings-suspect/

(iii) Chappell, Bill, Vanessa Romo & Jaclyn Diaz (March 18, 2021). Official Who Said Atlanta
Shooting Suspect Was Having A 'Bad Day' Faces Criticism. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2021/03/17/978141138/atlanta-shooting-suspect-is-believed-to-have- visited-spas-he-targeted

(iv) Emma Bowman (March 21, 2021). Atlanta Killings: Sex Worker Advocate Sees Deadly
Consequences Of Overlapping Hatreds. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2021/03/21/979811779/atlanta-killings-sex-worker-advocate-sees-deadly-consequences-of-overlapping-hat

(viii) Furthermore, Chang writes “A whopping 87 percent of results referred to Asian women’s physical appearance, beauty, and sexuality and 48 percent were ads for sex/dating/marriage.” Sharon Chang (March 27, 2015 ). “Searching for Women of Color.” Racism Review. Retrieved from http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2015/03/27/searching-for-women-of-color/

(ix) Hu, Nian (2016). “Yellow Fever: The Problem with Fetishizing Asian Women.” Harvard Crimson. Retrieved from https://www.thecrimson.com/column/femmefatale/article/2016/2/4/yellow-fever-fetishization/

(x) Yam, Kimmy (March 16, 2021). “There were 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents, mostly against women, in past year.” Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/there-were-3-800-anti-asian-racist-incidents-mostly-against-n1261257

(xi) STOP AAPI HATE NATIONAL REPORT 3/19/20 – 2/28/21 Russell Jeung Ph.D., Aggie
Yellow Horse, Ph.D., Tara Popovic, and Richard Lim. Retrieved from https://secureservercdn.net/104.238.69.231/a1w.90d.myftpupload.com/wp-
content/uploads/2021/03/210312-Stop-AAPI-Hate-National-Report-.pdf

(xii) Yam, Kimmy (March 16, 2021). “There were 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents, mostly against women, in past year.” Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/there-were-3-800-anti-asian-racist-incidents-mostly-against-n1261257

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