- Bree Hollis
The Hyper-Sexualization of Asian Women and How We Can Be Allies of the AAPI Community
Since the pandemic began, hate crimes against Asian Americans have risen 150%. A recent shooting in Atlanta resulted in 8 women being killed, 6 of whom were of Asian descent. Despite the recent surge in hate crimes, Asian Americans—and especially Asian women—have long faced discrimination in the United States.
Asian women’s place in American society has always been framed around the capitalization and over-sexualization of their bodies, with many being forced into prostitution. The Page Act of 1875, which prohibited the immigration of Chinese Women, demonstrates how the discrimination of Asian women is nothing new. Even today, the media and pop culture over-sexualize Asian women, with many men claiming to have an "Asian fetish" or "yellow fever." 68% of the hate crimes against the Asian community in the past year involved women, illustrating a direct link between racism and sexism.
Mainstream media and the film industry has been known to capitilize on the sexualizatiton of Asian women by objectifying their bodies. This is more than disheartening, but luckily, Asian women have begun to speak out about the hate and sexualization they’ve experienced. These women hope that by speaking out about their experiences, they will educate others and ultimately create meaningful change.
Many people don’t seem to realize how normalized these forms of racism and sexism are in today’s society; they are often labeled as “jokes” but perpetuate racial violence. People have even made excuses for the Atlanta murderer or have tried to argue that race wasn’t a factor in the violence as a way of undermining the event’s magnitude.
The most important thing for us to do right now is to be allies for the Asian American community, which involves speaking up when something is wrong, making sure our communities are diverse and inclusive, checking in on our friends in the AAPI community, and being knowledgeable about the events that have and are taking place in our country. We can’t move forward if we don’t understand our past and the harm it has caused Asian women.