TW: details of racial abuse and violent hate crimes.
On the 16th March, a gunman targeted a number of Asian massage parlours in the Atlanta area, leaving eight dead. With all of the victims Asian, this was a deadly and racist act of terrorism by a white supremacist. The gunman’s motives, which were obviously based on anti-Asian hate, were branded as “sex addiction”. This just emphasises the sexualisation Asian women face, even in the event of a deadly shooting. However, this is nothing new.
The Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University released findings in early March that showed hate crimes against Asian Americans spiked between 149% between 2019 and 2020. In the event of the Covid-19 pandemic, anti-Asian hate has spiked massively and it has continued to spike. Phrases like “kung-flu” and even “Chinese virus” consistently used by former US President, Donald Trump, are just some of the ways racism towards the Asian community has become normalised in society today. Recently, the group Stop AAPI Hate conducted a national report into the statistics and crimes of anti-Asian hate. They found that from March 2020 to the 28th February of this year, approximately 3800 incidents of anti-Asian hate crime were reported in the US. From this research also, women have reported twice as many incidents as men. This research shows how Asian hate crimes have drastically spiked in the past few years in America. However, in the UK, the same can be said.
Aldarico Jr Velasco, a Filipino nurse based in Derby, documented the racial abuse he received on Twitter. Whilst at work, a man called him a “Chinese c*nt”. This is just one of the examples of racism towards Asian people in the UK. In Edinburgh, mother Wei Saik was racially abused and physically assaulted by a group of teenagers in November last year. Whilst she was walking home with her two young children, the teenagers shouted “COVID” as they smacked her in the head. Wei Saik was left terrified. Similarly, another case of anti-Asian hate in the UK can be seen with Chinese university lecturer Peng Wang. He was attacked by a gang of men on the 1st March, who shouted “things like Chinese virus, get out of my country”. These three examples are just a tiny proportion of the brutal and violent hate crimes many Asians in the UK face daily. However, this has been going on for years and years.
Unfortunately, much of the anti-Asian hate and racism is deeply engrained within society. And, this needs to stop. One of the most prominent examples of this can be seen with the fetishisation and sexualisation of Asian women, particularly in pop culture. One of the earliest forms of the fetishisation of Asian women can be seen in the film Piccadilly (1929). Piccadilly tells the story of Shosho, played by Anna May Wong, a Chinese dishwasher turned dance star in a London nightclub. At the end of the film, Shosho is murdered, emphasising the hyper-sexualisation Asian women face. Fast forward to today, the sexualisation of Asian women is also present in today’s “comedy”. In her show Amy Schumer: Mostly Sex Stuff (2012), Schumer mocks Asian women by stating that they have “the smallest vaginas in the game”. Schumer is one of the most famous comedians in the US and her comments about Asian women seem to be normalised and laughed at like any other joke.
Jokes surrounding Asian men and women as well as the hyper-sexualisation of Asian women have become normalised in society. Many believe these jokes and remarks are “harmless” and “funny” however, they ultimately lead to violent and deadly consequences. What happened on the 16th March is just one example of this, and anti-Asian hate and racism needs to stop. It needs to stop becoming even more normalised and with the presence of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is becoming more and more common everyday.
Featured header image by Christos Alamaniotis.