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I n the weeks since eight people, six of whom were Asian women , were killed in a mass shooting at three massage businesses in the Atlanta area, the conversations prompted by the event have continued—as has the fear felt by many Asian and Asian American women, for whom the violence in Georgia felt intimately familiar. The mass shooting followed a year of increased anti-Asian violence and racist attacks , which advocates say has been fueled by xenophobic rhetoric about the COVID pandemic.
Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting database created at the start of the pandemic as a way to chart the attacks, received 3, reports of anti-Asian discrimination between March 19, and Feb. However, in a press conference following the shooting spree, Captain Jay Baker, a spokesperson for the Cherokee County, Ga.
But to see those two forces as entirely separate is to erase an important layer of context. As many Asian American women pointed out in the wake of the attack, racism and misogyny reinforce a shared narrative—and, due in large part to historical factors, Asian American women often experience that connection in a unique and troubling way. That perception did not evolve by accident, she adds. In fact, the U. The bill also effectively halted the immigration of Chinese women into the U. Unable to become fathers and struggling with increasingly limited job opportunities, Asian American men were effectively emasculated.
And for the relatively few Asian women in the U. After the 19th century came to an end, U. Military culture of the time viewed drinking, gambling, partying and visiting brothels as a common, even necessary, pastime of servicemen abroad. During conflicts in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and elsewhere, the local women were on the receiving end of that assumption. The U. These camp towns were set up specifically to entertain American troops, and sex work was part of that ecosystem. The women who were recruited to work at camp towns were often orphans or impoverished women with no other way to make a living.
Camp town women often found themselves trapped, where they were charged rent for the rooms in which they serviced men and expected to pay for all of the items needed to entertain the American soldiers. For generations. This is what we are up against. As wars ended, many American troops came home with their wartime perceptions of Asian women as submissive and sexually available. It would also manifest in popular culture, where stereotypes dominated depictions of Asian and Asian American women, resulting in two binary and highly sexualized tropes known as the Lotus Flower and the Dragon Lady.
The Lotus Flower, or China Doll, trope reinforced stereotypes about Asian women being submissive, sexually subservient, feminine and meek. Such characters often meet tragic ends, as in the Puccini opera Madame Butterfly , about a Japanese woman who kills herself after her white American lover abandons her and their son. And while racist tropes are dangerous in and of themselves, the harm wrought by these widespread stereotypes is even more damaging given the severely limited representation of Asian American women in media.
In mainstream movies, that is: one study found over-representation of Asian women in victim roles in violent pornography. Times in After traveling across the world alone to live with their new husbands, a high proportion of these women reported facing domestic violence. These tropes, along with the model minority myth— the false idea that Asian Americans are inherently more successful than other ethnic minorities—leave Asian and Asian American women simultaneously fetishized and despised, hypervisible as subjects of desire but disposable as people.
For the victims, this fatal violence happened at the intersection of not only race and gender, but also class—three aspects that were central to the Act, the repercussions of which are still being felt today. Write to Cady Lang at cady. By Cady Lang and Paulina Cachero. A mob of photographers descended upon China City, Los Angeles, when they heard that a prize contest is under way for the best amateur snaps of its people and its colorful nooks and corners.
Pictured is a mob of candid camera fans shooting Mrs. Dorothy Siu CQ and Mrs. Chinese-American film star Anna May Wong wearing an exotic costume and headdress, circa Above her is a projected shadow of a dragon. A makeshift memorial for the eight people who were killed during attacks on three Atlanta-area spas on Tuesday, at Gold Spa in Atlanta, March Chang W.
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