On Tuesday night, nine people were shot, including eight fatally, in three separate metro Atlanta spa shootings. Seven of those fatally shot were women. The motive of the shooting remains to be determined, but according to authorities, six of the eight killed were Asian women. Atlanta police noted that the suspect voiced having a “sexual addiction” and may have visited these businesses in the past. Stop AAPI Hate called the shootings “an unspeakable tragedy” for both the victims’ families and the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community as a whole, which has “been reeling from high levels of racist attacks.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in violence against the AAPI community at large, and particularly against AAPI women. And violence against women, fueled by misogyny, racism, and fetishization, and made more deadly by easy access to guns, has plagued the United States for generations.
“While we’re still learning more about what motivated the shooting yesterday, the context for this tragic violence is clear. The victims were mostly AAPI women, and we as a community have long faced the triple threat of misogyny, racism and gun violence,” said Jeannie She, a gun violence survivor and member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board in Maryland. “And in the past year, this threat has only grown. We must urgently do more on all three fronts to save lives.”
The motivation of the shooter has yet to be determined, but the shootings occurred in the context of a rising tide of violence against the AAPI community, and that misogyny and gun violence are often linked.
Additional information is below:
The Pandemic and Hate Against the AAPI Community:
- Stop AAPI Hate received nearly 3,800 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents from March 2020 to February 2021. Police departments in the 16 largest cities in the United States reported a nearly 150% increase in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in 2020, and nationally, Asian American women were more than twice as likely to be targeted in hate incidents as men.
- Even before these disturbing trends appeared, we had already seen the deadly impact of the former president’s racism and misogyny. Fueled by racism against Latino communities, the El Paso shooter’s white supremacist manifesto could have been taken straight from the former president’s Twitter feed.
- Any time the former president, NRA leadership, or right-wing media extremists repeat racist tropes about the pandemic – as the former president did Monday night – the entire AAPI community is placed in even more danger.
Misogyny and Gun Violence:
- The horrific public attacks we saw are sadly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violence against women. Every month in the U.S., an average of 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner.
- A Mother Jones investigation in 2019 found “a stark pattern of misogyny and domestic violence among many attackers” and “a strong overlap between toxic masculinity and public mass shootings.”
- By a more than 2:1 margin, racially-motivated attacks against Asian Americans during the pandemic targeted Asian-American women.
- According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “as a driver to radicalization, misogyny works alongside racism, antisemitism and perceptions of waning civil rights in the face of increasing equality.”
- While there are many reasons for this kind of misogyny and violence, weak gun laws are a key factor in the risks women in the U.S. face. And while some of this is going to take a long time to address at its core, strengthening our gun laws at the state and federal levels, like passing background checks legislation, and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act can go a long way toward protecting women right now.
Fetishization of Asian Women and Violence:
- According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), “while there are segments of Asian communities that enjoy privileges that other communities of color are not afforded, the current structures of power and privilege negatively and dangerously impact the experiences of Asian women in unique ways. The bodies of Asian women are exoticized and hypersexualized, and the perceived submissiveness of some Asian cultures is glamourized and erotized. This fetishization reduces Asian women to an inaccurate and detrimental stereotype, and creates staggering rates of violence.”
- According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 19.6% of Asian or Pacific Islander women in the United States reported that they have been the victim of of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.