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The man accused of killing eight people in three shootings at Atlanta-area spas was charged with eight counts of murder Wednesday. Four of the counts against the man, Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, are related to shootings at two spas in Atlanta. The four others are related to shootings at another spa in Cherokee County.
As details emerge about Robert Aaron Long, the man accused of killing eight people in the Atlanta area — six of them Asian women — discussions have reignited around the ways women of Asian descent are vulnerable to violence.
Authorities said Long told investigators that he was motivated by "sexual addiction" and denied having racial motivations in the shootings at three spas. Police claimed that Long said the spas were "a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate. While it's unclear whether the businesses had any ties to sex work, experts and activists said it was nearly impossible to divorce race from the discourse — regardless of whether Long will be charged with a hate crime — given the historical fetishization of Asian women, which has made them uniquely susceptible to sexual and physical violence.
Catherine Ceniza Choy, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said that to disregard race in the acts of violence would erase the harassment and violence Asian women have faced for more than a century, since they first came to the country. Although most violence toward Asian American women doesn't get elevated to the national spotlight, experts say it's not an uncommon occurrence, and it has been amplified during the coronavirus pandemic.
A report on hate incidents released Tuesday by the reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate revealed that among 3, incidents were reported over the course of about a year during the pandemic, 68 percent of respondents were women. A far lower share, 29 percent, were men. This is horrifying.
Racism, sexism must be considered in atlanta case involving killing of six asian women, experts say
Stop fetishizing us," said Catherine Ceniza Choy, an ethnic studies professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Even apart from the pandemic, research shows that 21 percent to 55 percent of Asian women in the U. The range is based on a compilation of studies of disaggregated samples of Asian ethnicities in local communities.
About a third of women in the general U. Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the nonprofit National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, said what's often lost in the discussion is how Asian women experience a very specific form of sexism, which she said shouldn't be conflated with the misogyny that other groups, like white women, may confront. Choimorrow said many of the attacks and much of the sexual misconduct can be traced in part to the rampant perpetuation of stereotypes around Asian women as exotic, hypersexualized and submissive. Such stereotypes create a perception that Asian Americans are therefore less of a threat and easier to take advantage of and that they aren't going to fight back.
Echoes of other archaic beliefs can be found in statements authorities attributed to Long, Choy said. Stop fetishizing us. Such ideas are particularly dangerous, experts said, as they put the onus on women to avoid violence, further fueling society's "misogynistic mentality about women," Choimorrow said. The beliefs have been shaped by legal code, America's history of imperialism and the prevailing culture, said historian Ellen Wu, the author of "The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority.
The Gold Rush ushered in a new age of immigration, with many people from China coming to work in the American West, Wu said. The majority were men; however, a small were women, including sex workers.
Women respond to killings of six women of asian descent with demands for change
By the late s, white Americans had begun to form opinions or impressions about Asian or Chinese women, in particular, and legislators sought to banish or regulate their entry into the U. Wu said one of the first exclusionary policies was the Act ofwhich banned importing women "for the purpose of prostitution. According to research published in The Modern Americanthe legislation may have been intended to mitigate prostitution, but immigration officers often weaponized it to keep any Asian woman from entering the country, granting them the authority to determine whether a woman was of "high moral character.
These associations that Americans already have of Asian women being engaged in this 'lewd and immoral' type of behavior gets amplified as the United States begins a series of imperial excursions, essentially, or wars in the Asia Pacific region," Wu said. As the U. To deal with U. Popular culture continued to confirm many dehumanizing perceptions of Asian women, Wu said. Stanley Kubrick's film, "Full Metal Jacket," perpetuates the stereotype of women as sexual deviants with a scene featuring a Vietnamese sex worker exclaiming, "Me so horny.
Phi Nguyen, litigation director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Atlanta, said the hypersexualization of Asian women, which has been normalized, in part helped create the conditions for white supremacy, aggression and violence. Advocates are calling for public safety nets and support for families in such situations, as well as for more public leaders to speak out against violence, particularly in Georgia. There's the idea that 'this could have been me,'" Choimorrow said.
For now, Nguyen said, Atlanta's Asian American community is feeling the grief and anger tied to the shootings.
But many are also in "rapid response mode" to make sure they can assess what the victims' families and the community need. IE 11 is not supported.
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