WGSS Statement Condemning Anti-Asian Racism and Violence

The Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) stands with the victims, survivors, families, and communities that have been the target of anti-Asian racist violence. The latest mass shooting targeting Asian-run massage parlors in Atlanta is a reminder that such violence cannot be viewed in isolation but as a part of a broader historical pattern of white nationalist supremacy, military-sanctioned violence, and patriarchal imperialist constructions of racialized others mapped onto Asian bodies and communities.

The proliferation of racist rhetoric linking the global COVID-19 pandemic to Asian communities exacerbates hate crimes and violence. Stop AAPI Hate received 3,800 reports of anti-Asian incidents between March 2020-February 2021. Women report hate incidents 2.3 times more than men and businesses are the primary site of discrimination (35.4%), followed by public streets (25.3%), and public parks (9.8%).

WGSS rejects the framing of the Atlanta mass murder as resulting from a “bad day” and “sexual addiction” and urges a transnational feminist analysis that centers the intersection of US imperialism, the fetishization and hypersexualization of Asian women, and the racialization of the COVID-19 pandemic. The positioning of Asian Americans as foreigners, outsiders, deviants, and criminals in combination with stereotyping Asian women as “Lotus Blossom/Dragon Lady” dominate popular consciousness and obscure much of the racialized and gendered trauma that informs Asian Americans’ experiences. The commercial sex industry that has developed around U.S. military bases worldwide (e.g., Vietnam, South Korea, Philippines, Japan) has fueled the racist and misogynist stereotypes about women in Asian communities and has exacerbated the trafficking of women and girls into this industry.

As anti-racist feminists, educators, and scholars, we join the call for a transformative justice response that acknowledges the racialized and sexualized violence against all vulnerable bodies, including those who identify as women, trans, GNC, queer, elderly, poor, immigrants, sex workers, and undocumented. We do not support increased policing as a solution to this racist and misogynist violence. We are deeply committed to addressing all forms of systemic racism and injustice by building multiracial solidarity and supporting community-based organizations’ efforts.

Suggested Readings:

“Lotus Blossoms Don’t Bleed: Images of Asian Women” by Renee Tajima (Making Waves: An Anthology of Writing By and About Asian American Women, Boston, Beacon Press, 1989).