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The shooting in Atlanta was fueled by Misogyny and Racism, Not a Bad day.

Disclaimer: The following article is an analysis on the tragic shooting in Atlanta and will examine sensitive topics such as violence, racism, and sexual content. 

 

On Tuesday March 16th, a shooter in Atlanta opened fire at three different massage parlors resulting in the deaths of eight people. Six of the eight victims were Asian leading to speculation that the attacks were racially motivated.  The police would then dismiss these speculations after the victim’s confession revealed he suffers from sex addiction and that the shooting is a result of him having a bad day and wanted to eliminate temptation. The shooter supposedly frequented these massage parlors to pay for sex, whether that is true or not though is irrelevant to this article. The fact of the matter is that this man purposely targeted women he blamed for his own addiction and they lost their lives and calling this incident a bad day belittles not only the victims and their loved ones who are grieving, but also undermines the misogynistic and racist intentions of this tragedy. This article is meant to shed light on the reasons why this is more than just a result of mental health but also because of toxic ideologies about women and race. Before we talk about why its racist against Asian women though, we need to analyze misogyny as a whole and how it contributed to the stereotypes that Asian women have been compared to for decades. 


#MARCH4WOMEN
Photo by Giacomo Ferroni from Unsplash

Why its Misogynistic:

Misogyny is defined as the hatred of, contempt for, prejudice against women and girls. Factors that contribute to misogyny include the extreme emphasis on gender roles in society, certain religious elements that view women as either the more sinful sex or the fairer sex, and patriarchal governments where men are primarily governing society. In her thesis Misogyny and Homicide of Women, Jacquelyn Campbell R.N, M.S.N of the Community Health Department Wane State University of Detroit examines how patriarchal society came to be, saying how archeological and anthropological evidence indicated that more equitable or matriarchal forms dominated society before recorded history with early cultural remnants showing female deities sharing in power with policy making, and divisions of labor.

 

“The roots of the patriarchal societal organization probably can be most logically traced to men’s fear of women in primitive times because of the unexplained mystery of reproduction. 14 Thousand of legends from all around the world indicate some crisis occurring when leadership was “wrested from the women, either by force or seduction or both” between 7500 BC and 1250 BC Early recorded history shows the efforts of men to overcome their fear by establishing a religious basis for the subjugation of women and depreciation of the woman’s role.” (pg.2)

 

What’s interesting to note about this case is that the shooter was a member of the Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton, GA and even the pastor described him as one of the most committed members. It’s a well-known fact that in Christianity sex outside of the purpose of procreation is considered a sin and the bible features many depictions of women as sinful beings such as Eve who ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. This religious upbringing may have brought about his view that his sex addiction was wrong and helped him place the blame on the women who satisfied these urges instead of himself. In an interview with the New York Times, his roommate confirmed that the shooter would express to him how torn up inside he was about his sexual urges and that he would go to various lengths to avoid pornography but couldn’t stop himself from going to the massage parlors.

While religion is one contributing factor to misogynism, we can’t rule out our societal conditioning as Campbell states “The most virulent effect of growing up as a male in patriarchal society is the form of the masculine ethic known as machismo. This concept has been written about from the perspectives of many different disciplines and has variously been called “compulsive masculinity” and “macho” in the literature. The following definition of machismo has been derived from a review and synthesis of most of this literature: the male attitude and behavior arising from and supported by the patriarchal social structure, which exalts strength and power, demands competition with and superiority over other men, glorifies violence, emphasizes virility, despises gentleness and expressing any emotion except anger and rage, and rigidly defines women as property, sexual objects, and subjects of male domination. Misogyny is inherent in machismo.”

Any of this ringing any bells? We’ve probably all seen some movie or tv show that depicts the typical macho man that embodies all these qualities. Despite efforts to try to move away from these ideologies and be more open minded when it comes to diversity and gender roles these qualities are still very much a part of society and contribute to violence against women. How frequent is violence against women you ask? Unwomen.org collected data showing that Globally, 35% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, or sexual violence by a non-partner. This figure does not include sexual harassment. Some national studies show that the number can be as high as 70% of women.

“137 women are killed by a member of their family every day. It is estimated that of the 87,000 women who were intentionally killed in 2017 globally, more than half (50,000) were killed by intimate partners or family members. More than a third (30,000) of the women intentionally killed in 2017 were killed by their current or former intimate partner.”

Now that we have established the misogynistic elements of this case, lets look at the racial elements.


Asian woman looking at reflection
Photo by Jessica Ticozzelli from Pexels

Why it’s a hate crime (and the sexualization of Asian women)

During the pandemic, hate crimes against Asian Americans has been on the rise. The Stop AAPI Hate organization has a report that contains 3,795 incidents received by the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021. T Additionally, the latest Stop AAPI Hate report found that women reported being the victim of a hate crime 2.3 times more often than men.

The shooter has supposedly denied any racial motives for going to the Asian massage parlors but did so because it felt “safer than paying for sex elsewhere.” Whether that is true or not, there’s no denying that Asian women have been subjected to sexual discrimination and unwanted sexual advances because of the hyper sexualization in media such as anime, porn and the sex worker industry itself. NPR  recently interviewed with Nancy Wang Yuen, a professor of sociology at Biola University about the shootings in Atlanta. She studies pop culture and specializes in race and ethnicity in media, particularly in Asian American representation. When asked about her opinion on the racially motivated reasoning was dismissed instead focusing on the shooters sex addiction as a motive, she says she is angry with the notion and that people (police officers and probably most Americans) don’t realize how racism and sexism intersect.

 

The shooters statement claims that he did it to “eliminate his temptations”. You could say that he just wanted to get rid of women who caused his temptations and how one of the massage parlors he shot at wasn’t an Asian owned business. But the fact is that 6 out of the 8 women were Asian and Asian women have a long history of being sexually stereotyped by western ideologies. Wang goes on to say that Asian women are seen as submissive and that from her own experience she’s been subjected to such comments and questions. “I’ve actually been asked if my anatomy is different. So, a kind of very fetishized, exoticized – that we’re somehow even physiologically different from other women.” Names that were given to such stereotypes include Exotic Lotus Flowers, Dragon Ladies, Temptresses.  

 

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “Me love you long time”. It has become a term that many Asian women are most likely familiar with or have had thrown at them from catcalling men. Its origin comes from Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket, during a scene where a Vietnamese woman propositions herself to two American soldiers. There is some accurate history there but it’s a glorification on the sex industry in Asia during those times of war.

 

So the U.S. military, you know, has had many wars with Asia. And so the kind of even rhetoric of thinking of Asia as a place that you want to take over – right? – to dominate, and so there is this kind of fetishization of Asia proper as a country. And then, of course, when the GIs are over there, they’re participating in the sex industry. And as a result, there have been what are called camp towns that pop up around U.S. military bases. And those camp towns have sex workers. And so the GIs, I think, associate, you know, being in Asia with sex workers, even though Asians are not any more likely to be sex workers than any other, you know, race or culture. – Nancy Wang Yeun, NPR

The last sentence is what stands out to me the most. Asians are not any more likely to be sex workers than other race or culture. Yet western society has deemed them so. Is it because of the GI’s who participated in the sex industry during the wars? That’s one theory. But Wang Yeun also talks about the Page Act of 1875 which was the first restrictive federal immigration law in the United States that prohibited the entry of Chinese women two years before the Chinese Exclusion Act which prohibited the men from coming to the United States.

 

 So the Page Act of 1875 actually predates the Chinese Exclusion Act, and it was an act that particularly targeted East Asian women, and it was applied mostly to Chinese women. And they thought of Chinese women as all prostitutes, right? It was a way to exclude the Chinese population. And they were successful in enacting it against women because they perceived that or they constructed that they carried venereal diseases and, actually, that they were temptations for white men.

This shows just how deep the sexualization of Asian women runs in our history. With the rise of crimes against the Asian community it’s important that we not shy away from the fact that this crime could have very well have been racially motivated. But for now, we have to wait and see how the justice system will handle this case. I hope that justice will be served and the victims’ families will be given closure.

 

Sources

Bogel-burroughs, Nicholas. “The Suspect Had Sought Treatment for Sex Addiction, a Former Roommate Says.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/03/18/us/robert-long-halfway-house.html.

 

“Facts and Figures: Ending Violence against Women: .” UN Women, www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-fi….

 

“A Sociologist’s View On The Hyper-Sexualization Of Asian Women In American Society.” NPR, NPR, 19 Mar. 2021, www.npr.org/2021/03/19/979340013/a-sociologists-view-on-the-hyper-sexual….

 

Campbell, Jacquelyn R.N., M.S.N. Misogyny and Homicide of Women, Advances in Nursing Science: January 1981 – Volume 3 – Issue 2 – p 67-86 https://journals.lww.com/advancesinnursingscience/Citation/1981/01000/Mi…

 

 

 

 

Nicole Azzara

West Chester '19

A recent graduate of West Chester University who is ready to put herself out there and live life to the fullest! I love to write a variety topics from new, entertainment, life, style and career.
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