Depending on which platform you access this article, you may have encountered some reposted graphics on how to address rising anti – Asian hate. While these posts are all well-meaning, the broader question we should all be asking ourselves is why are these attacks happening in the first place?
The answer is not as simple as blaming China as the reason the world has faced prolonged periods of sickness, death, and isolation. In the year 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate organization has recorded 3,800 racist attacks in the USA, 68% of the victims of these incidents have been female. Specifically, during the Atlanta shooting on March 16th, eight people lost their lives because the white shooter was, “having a bad day”. Again, six of the victims were Asian women.
The disproportionate abuse of Asian women in the United States is no coincidence. The history of Asian immigration to America is rooted in the segregation of Asian women to sex work. Together with the persistent hypersexualization of Asian women in the media, this perpetuates a caricature of Asian women in society as objectified, submissive, and docile beings. This diminished view of Asian women appears to be particularly appealing to white men, who have been overwhelmingly responsible for these heinous crimes.
To comprehend why these groups of men believe that they have the “right” to abuse Asian women as they continue to do in their country, we must first look to the media to understand how a particular narrative of Asian women is constructed in a way that is appealing to these men and how this then relates to a mental model of power and abuse. While many factors contribute to racially motivated violent behavior, this article aims to present the role of the media in enabling such violence.