Monday Reads: Trigger Post for victims of Rape and Assault and RacismPosted: March 22, 2021 Filed under: child sexual abuse, children, Mid Day Reads, physical abuse | Tags: misogyny, Racism, violence against women 22 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
If you read one thing today make it this opinion piece at The Guardian by Rebecca Solnit: “Women are harmed every day by invisible men”. The title really doesn’t say it all but the body of the essay does.
I was a teenage advocate to challenge how women and children are treated by about every layer of society and the justice system when men do something untoward and harmful to them. My neighbor was in Junior League that established one of the first rape and abuse crisis lines for women in the country. It is now nationally recognized and run by the YWCA in Omaha. At the time, we had one phone in a psychologist’s office in West Omaha, training to use the list we had and to listen, and then various resources that we could provide to callers. It was small but became mighty. Fortunately, it now has skilled counselors on phones instead of teenage volunteers and homemakers.
I learned many things at the time about exactly how unfair the entire criminal justice system was to women and child victims at the time. Sex crimes were in the property crimes divisions of police stations. Women officers? Nope. Could a man rape his wife? Nope. Have at least three witnesses present to see the entire thing? No? Then, forget prosecution. My job at the crisis line was to say here’s the person you call, here’s a hospital that will help you, and eventually we started having lists of safe houses and counsellors. This was the mid 70s. A lot has changed on that front but one thing hasn’t.
Whatever happens to a woman is still likely seen to be her fault. The perpetrator eventually becomes invisible. She asked for it. She provoked him. She had a drink. I even had a friend while at university who knew I was still passionately working on campus and at the legislature to change things who had just been raped by the library rapist. She asked if it was worth reporting it because she had a couple of hits off a joint before she went there to study. I’m like Go to the hospital! Call the police! Do not make this man the winner of anything!
Ask any woman and they’ll have similar stories from either their own lives or women they know. I grew up with my mother pointing to the imprint of an iron on her inner thigh and the stories of how it got there. My mild mannered banker of a grandfather was violent and abusive. My family oozed white, WASPY upper mild class privilege so I don’t want to hear any of that other kind’ve stuff that excuses men’s–and especially white men’s–actions and behaviors. It’s still rampant.
Solnit’s writing always hits home but this one hit home so hard my house shook. She’s speaking to the latest spree shooter who targeted Asian Women working for Day Spas in the Atlanta area. However, she reminds us that we’ve seen this and we’ve seen the response over and over and over.
Some white guy with no emotional or self control has to eliminate “temptation” or was forced into a “rage” or a “hard on” by some women. So, rather than get his act together he kills the “objects” of his temptation or rapes her. Then, the media continues with his narrative. Women are to blame for what happens to them. Women are just men’s property. They are objects. They are less. These guys have a right to feel resentful and harmed and to correct that by taking it out on the woman or women or they’re just lone wolves, disturbed little boys, men with issues we can’t possibly understand.
This is Solnit’s opening narrative.
The alleged murderer of eight people, six of whom were Asian American women, reportedly said that he was trying to “eliminate temptation”. It’s as if he thought others were responsible for his inner life, as though the horrific act of taking others’ lives rather than learning some form of self-control was appropriate. This aspect of a crime that was also horrifically racist reflects a culture in which men and the society at large blame women for men’s behavior and the things men do to women. The idea of women as temptresses goes back to the Old Testament and is heavily stressed in white evangelical Christianity; the victims were workers and others present in massage parlors; the killer was reportedly on his way to shoot up Florida’s porn industry when he was apprehended.
This week an older friend recounted her attempts in the 1970s to open a domestic-violence shelter in a community whose men didn’t believe domestic violence was an issue there and when she convinced them it was, told her, but “what if it’s the women’s fault”. And last week a male friend of mine posted an anti-feminist screed blaming young women for New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s travails, as though they should suck it up when he violated clear and longstanding workplace rules, as though they and not he had the responsibility to protect his career and reputation.
Sometimes men are written out of the story altogether. Since the pandemic began there have been torrents of stories about how women’s careers have been crushed or they have left their jobs altogether because they’re doing the lioness’s share of domestic labor , especially child-rearing, in heterosexual households. In February of this year, NPR opened a story with the assertion that this work has “landed on the shoulders of women” as if that workload had fallen from the sky rather than been shoved there by spouses. I have yet to see an article about a man’s career that’s flourishing because he’s dumped on his wife, or focusing on how he’s shirking the work.
Informal responses often blame women in these situations for their spouses and recommend they leave without addressing that divorce often leads to poverty for women and children, and of course, unequal workloads at home can undermine a woman’s chances at financial success and independence. Behind all this is a storytelling problem. The familiar narratives about murder, rape, domestic violence, harassment, unwanted pregnancy, poverty in single-female-parent households, and a host of other phenomena portray these things as somehow happening to women and write men out of the story altogether, absolve them of responsibility – or turn them into “she made him do it” narratives. Thus have we treated a lot of things that men do to women or men and women do together as women’s problems that women need to solve, either by being amazing and heroic and enduring beyond all reason, or by fixing men, or by magically choosing impossible lives beyond the reach of harm and inequality. Not only the housework and the childcare, but what men do becomes women’s work.
Please Read the entire thing. Then, consider this stream of tweets by Bruce Bartlett on research by Pew Research. It’s basically a reading list of things surrounding white–but especially white male–fragility. Yes. Racial discrimination is a problem for white males in their minds just about the same way that the mass murderer felt women tempting him were his problem.
The research thankfully shows that the majority of all of us in this country see racial discrimination and even white people. But, then there’s the wipipo that think it’s all about them. Bartlett writes about this at The New Republic: “The Ultimate White Fragility. White people in not-insignificant numbers maintain a persistent belief that they’re the ones suffering historic levels of racial discrimination.” Robin DiAngelo, coined the term in a best-selling book in 2011. Yes, that’s 10 years ago and look where we are on this.
Over the last 10 years, the issue of reverse racism and its social and political implications have drawn extensive interest from social scientists. The most well-known study was by Michael I. Norton and Samuel R. Sommers of the Harvard Business School and Tufts University, respectively, in 2011. They found that whites increasingly viewed racial prejudice as a zero-sum game—reduced bias against black citizens automatically led to increased bias against their white counterparts. As the chart from their article shows, perceived discrimination against whites by both whites and blacks rose as discrimination against blacks was perceived to have fallen. (This analysis is available through Tufts University.)
Further studies in 2014, 2015, and 2016 confirmed that many whites do indeed see racial progress as a zero-sum game. However, the latest study, published last year, was more skeptical of this trend. Nevertheless, the idea of zero-sum racial discrimination is very popular in the Republican Party. Then-Senator Jeff Sessions expressed the widely held GOP sentiment in 2009 when he said, “Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.”
Notice it’s the same set of white evangelicals and republicans that tend to come up in all the quotes and polls that Bartlett cites in that 2019 article. It’s a complete taste of Trumpism. All of this is deeply intertwined with both patriarchy as viewed by many religious traditions like white evangelical Christianity and white supremacy which has been at the root of native genocides and slavery of Africans and black Americans since the country’s inception. It continues to poison the well.
So, the Supreme Court is considering reinstating the death penalty of the Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Remember that Domestic Terrorist Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma bombings was the last to receive the federal death penalty in 2001 until Trump went on killing spree at the end of his term. You may remember that a woman was one of them. The other were primarily black men This is from January and BBC Canada.
Five people have been executed in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s 20 January inauguration – breaking with an 130-year-old precedent of pausing executions amid a presidential transition.
They make Mr Trump the country’s most prolific execution president in more than a century, overseeing the executions of 13 death row inmates since July of this year.
The five executions began with convicted killer 40-year-old Brandon Bernard who was put to death at a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. They ended with the death of Dustin Higgs, 48, at the same site on 16 January.
President Biden does not support the Death Penalty. This is from the AP link.
The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider reinstating the death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, presenting President Joe Biden with an early test of his opposition to capital punishment.
The justices agreed to hear an appeal filed by the Trump administration, which carried out executions of 13 federal inmates in its final six months in office, including three in the last week of President Donald Trump’s term.
The case won’t be heard until the fall, and it’s unclear how the new administration will approach Tsarnaev’s case. The initial prosecution and decision to seek a death sentence was made by the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice president.
Justice and jobs are not generally meted out equally in this country and many white men fear they will be. The Capitol Hill Riot/Insurrection will be a test of this certainly. Today’s NYT: “Evidence in Capitol Attack Most Likely Supports Sedition Charges, Prosecutor Says.“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” said Michael Sherwin, who had led the Justice Department’s inquiry into the riot. “. This is from Katie Benner.
Evidence the government obtained in the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol most likely meets the bar necessary to charge some of the suspects with sedition, Michael R. Sherwin, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry, said in an interview that aired on Sunday.
The department has rarely brought charges of sedition, the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government.
But in an interview with “60 Minutes,” Mr. Sherwin said prosecutors had evidence that most likely proved such a charge.
“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Mr. Sherwin said. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.”
Scott Pelley’s interview on 60 minutes can be found at this link.
I’d like to point you to a more inspiring read from Vogue: “5 Female Artists From Around the World Who Celebrate Women in Their Work.” If you’d like to share something with the kids or grand kids, try the Multicultural Kids Blog.: “7 Women Artists Who Changed History.”. You can also check out this from Art and Design: “Famous Female Artists – 5 Incredible Women Artists That You Need To Know”
I hope you have a good week. It’s so nice to have so many flavors of spring decorating the avenue now. All the azaleas and camellias are in bloom. I hope they’re finding they’re way to your corner of the northern hemisphere!
Meanwhile enjoy a live performance of Suzanne Vega and her song “Luka”. And then listen to Natalie Merchant and “Motherland”. Gee, I like this Women’s History month thing! And, I notice I’m really late in the day already! This was my morning to sleep 2 hours later than the I usually get up in Fake Time and 1 hour later in Real Time. My body is really not liking this time change. But, anyway … your turn!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Lazy Caturday Reads: The Atlanta Mass ShootingsPosted: March 20, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Anti-Asian violence, Atlanta mass shootings, massage therapy spas, misogyny, Racism 15 Comments
I’m going to focus on the Atlanta spa shootings again. There has been an effort by some white male writers to argue that racism and misogyny didn’t motivate the shooter. Of course these things are complicated, but there is no doubt that attacks on Asian Americans have increased dramatically over the past year, as the former occupant of the White House tried to put the blame for the pandemic on China. Some white journalists have also been defending the Cherokee Sheriff’s spokesman who appeared to sympathize with the shooter having “a bad day.”
Here’s Andrew Sullivan’s take on this story: When The Narrative Replaces The News.
…this story has…been deeply instructive about our national discourse and the state of the American mainstream and elite media. This story’s coverage is proof, it seems to me, that American journalists have officially abandoned the habit of attempting any kind of “objectivity” in reporting these stories. We are now in the enlightened social justice world of “moral clarity” and “narrative-shaping.”
Here’s the truth: We don’t yet know why this man did these horrible things. It’s probably complicated, or, as my therapist used to say, “multi-determined.” That’s why we have thorough investigations and trials in America. We only have one solid piece of information as to motive, which is the confession by the mass killer to law enforcement: that he was a religious fundamentalist who was determined to live up to chastity and repeatedly failed, as is often the case. Like the 9/11 bombers or the mass murderer at the Pulse nightclub, he took out his angst on the source of what he saw as his temptation, and committed mass murder. This is evil in the classic fundamentalist sense: a perversion of religion and sexual repression into violence.
We should not take the killer’s confession as definitive, of course. But we can probe it — and indeed, his story is backed up by acquaintances and friends and family. The New York Times originally ran one piece reporting this out. The Washington Post also followed up, with one piece citing contemporaneous evidence of the man’s “religious mania” and sexual compulsion. It appears that the man frequented at least two of the spas he attacked. He chose the spas, his ex roommates said, because he thought they were safer than other ways to get easy sex. Just this morning, the NYT ran a second piece which confirms that the killer had indeed been in rehab for sexual impulses, was a religious fanatic, and his next target was going to be “a business tied to the pornography industry.”
The sympathy for the sheriff’s spokesman has led to attacks on Vox’s Aaron Rupar, who posted the original video of the spokesman.
I admit that I have no way of judging the shooter’s motives, but I do know that mass shooters tend to be men who have previously abused women, and they are frequently racists. I went looking for takes by people who are more knowledgeable about anti-woman and anti-Asian violence than Andrew Sullivan, Matthew Yglesias, and Ken Vogel. Here’s some of what I found.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Before killing spree, women – especially Asian women – exploited and ‘enslaved’ at spas.
Six large red arrows point to the entrance of Aromatherapy Spa on Atlanta’s Piedmont Road, beacons to those seeking untold pleasures within.
Robert Aaron Long claimed he found the invitation irresistible.The 21-year-old from Woodstock frequented Aromatherapy, as well as the Gold Spa directly across the street, establishments open around the clock and whose advertisements feature women — particularly Asian women — in suggestive poses.
On Tuesday, authorities say, Long purchased a 9 mm handgun and headed to three spas — one in south Cherokee County and the two in Atlanta — where he shot eight people to death and seriously wounded one other. His motives remain the subject of investigation, but he told police he was trying to purge the sources of temptations while battling sex addiction.
This is what we know about the industry and the women that Long chose to attack:
While the exact services offered at the spas that were attacked are not clear, last week the eyes of the world fell on this often-ignored segment of Atlanta’s “adult entertainment” industry. Despite more than a decade of trying, Georgia has failed to rein in certain illicit massage businesses that hypersexualize and commodify women.
Laws and local ordinances aimed to crack down on prostitution and potential human trafficking have only resulted in sporadic police busts and occasional losses of state-issued massage therapy licenses. Meanwhile, behind the darkened windows of undistinguished commercial buildings, an invisible population remains vulnerable to the type of deadly, misogynistic violence seen Tuesday….
What roles the victims played at the spas is not clear. At least one woman who died at Young’s Asian Massage, Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, was on the premises as a customer. Paul Andre Michels, 54, who was white, also was killed in the Acworth shooting, along with Daoyou Feng, 44, and Xiaojie Tan, 49.
Tan, who held a state massage therapy license, is listed as the owner of that spa, as well as at least one other in Kennesaw.
Greg Hynson, a customer of the Cherokee location, said he was close friends with Tan and never saw or heard any evidence of illegal activity. “She ran a reputable business,” he said.
On the Atlanta victims:
The Atlanta victims, all of Korean descent, were identified Friday as Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; and Hyun Jung Grant, 51. According to a report in The Korea Daily, a Korean language daily published in the U.S., the three older women essentially acted as site managers, opening the door for customers or serving meals to workers.
Court records indicate a 51-year-old by the name of Hyun Jung Grant was arrested in Gwinnett County in 2009 on charges of pimping, prostitution, keeping a place of prostitution and giving a massage in a place used for lewdness.
Were women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s really engaged in prostitution? I’ve quoted a lot from this article, but it is very long and the rest is well worth reading at the link.
Patrick Adams at The Daily Beast: Son of Atlanta Shooting Victim Calls ‘Bullshit’ on Sex Addiction Claim.
Randy Park said he learned of his mother’s murder while he was playing his favorite video game, League of Legends, in their townhome in Duluth, Georgia.
It’s a short drive from the Atlanta spas where police say 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long shot and killed four Asian women shortly after he shot and killed four other people in a suburb north of the city, two of those victims also Asian women….Park, 23, said he got a call that evening from the daughter of a survivor who had been next to his mother, Hyun Jung Grant, at Gold Spa when the shooting occurred….
Park and his mother were “very close,” he said. “I could tell her anything. If I had girl problems or whatever. She wasn’t just my mother. She was my friend.” [….]
Much of the national conversation about the shooting has centered on Cherokee County sheriffs apparently taking the suspect, a white kid from the suburbs, at his word that he was not motivated by racial animus. That dynamic was only worsened when, as The Daily Beast first reported, it was revealed the very official in that department perpetuating that narrative posted racist T-shirts that specifically targeted the Asian-American community.
Instead of racism, law-enforcement officials have said, the suspect has suggested he was motivated by his addiction to sex. Atlanta police on Thursday said he frequented the spas he attacked.
Park does not buy that explanation for a second.
“That’s bullshit,” he told The Daily Beast.
“My question to the family is, what did y’all teach him?” he added. “Did you turn him in because you’re scared that you’ll be affiliated with him? You just gonna scapegoat your son out? And they just get away scot free? Like, no, you guys definitely taught him some shit. Take some fucking responsibility.”
Park didn’t know anything about his mother being involved in sex work, but it sounds like he had been worried about it. But they were poor and “she did what she had to do” to keep her family going in the U.S. I think Park has a point that racism had to be involved in this crime and it’s important to know what the shooter learned during his upbringing.
Frankie Huang at The Daily Beast: White Fragility Is a Disease, and It Just Killed Six Asian Women.
For most of my life as a Chinese American woman, I accepted that a “normal” amount of feeling unsafe is simply part of my life in America, that if I lived more carefully I can avoid danger. Now, as I’m bombarded with reports of people who look like me that are being assaulted on sight, like vermin, I wonder how I ever thought this kind of dehumanization is something I can live with?
Actually, I do know how. It’s easier to self-soothe with the wishful fantasy that good behavior can be an effective prophylactic than it is to confront the bleak reality of being a person of color who lives in a country with a white supremacy problem.
Which is what I reflexively did when the news about the horrific shooting in Atlanta popped up on my phone. My very first thought was, “Maybe it wasn’t a hate crime, but just a coincidence that six out of eight victims were Asian women.” I was scared to acknowledge that there are those who would want me dead just from the look of me, and that I live in their midst.
But then I came face to face with a different kind of denial about America’s problem with racism, one far grander and more dangerous than my own: the powerful white fragility engine that has roared into life to efficiently and systematically distort the narrative about the Atlanta massacre.
One can almost admire how the machine churns, the way the killer’s claim that his actions were not racially motivated has been amplified by the police and major media platforms, accepting a young white man’s claims at face value even after he murdered eight people. The Cherokee County sheriff said in a press conference, almost sympathetically, that the murderer “had a really bad day” and had admitted to “sex addiction.” Online, I’ve seen people speculating about mental illness, poverty, and substance abuse, with these narratives laid on thick to create a barrier around the obvious, distinct possibility that it was white supremacy that drove this white man to kill Asian women.
I’ve heard this song before. It starts with “maybe it’s not racism” and builds briskly to “he’s just a sad lone wolf” and ends in fading refrains of “thoughts and prayers.”
Read the rest at the Daily Beast link.
May Jeong at The New York Times: The Deep American Roots of the Atlanta Shootings.
In some massage parlors, women, often Asian, may sometimes perform sexual services.But I did not know whether those who died this week would have identified themselves as sex workers.
I have spent the past few years researching the various ways sex work intersects with race, class and gender, routinely amazed by how it connects to such disparate issues as criminal justice, gentrification, poverty, immigration and trans rights. I have come to understand sex work rights as an overlooked civil rights issue that deserves study. I soon found myself placing the Atlanta killings within the context of a horrific history….
Since the terrible events this past Tuesday, much effort has been devoted to understanding Mr. Long — an earnest inquiry that betrays a particular kind of American naïveté. He claimed to have been driven by “sexual addiction”; investigators have not yet ruled out race as a factor. For now, we do not know whether the massage parlor workers who were killed would have considered themselves sex workers, and we may never know. But the answer is less relevant to their deaths than their murderer’s answer: Does it matter how one identifies oneself if a mass killer conflates any Asian woman in a massage parlor with a sex worker?
The stereotype of the Asian woman as simultaneously hypersexualized and submissive is borne of centuries of Western imperialism. An early documented instance of Asian fetishization can be found in “Madame Chrysantheme,” a thinly fictionalized account of a French naval officer’s time visiting 19th-century Japan. “Madame Chrysantheme” was wildly popular when it was published, and went on to create a subgenre of Orientalizing prose. The women in such accounts were, as Edward Said wrote in “Orientalism,” “creatures of a male power-fantasy. They express unlimited sensuality, they are more or less stupid, and above all they are willing.”
Later, an untold number of American servicemen in Korea and Vietnam had their first sexual encounter with Asian women. The U.S. military tacitly endorsed prostitution, considering it good for morale, and at times even explicitly encouraged troops to explore the local sex industry. According to the book “Sex Among Allies” by Katharine Moon, an assistant professor of political science at Wellesley College, an ad in Stars and Stripes, the main military newspaper, read: “Picture having three or four of the loveliest creatures God ever created hovering around you, singing, dancing, feeding you, washing what they feed you down with rice wine or beer, all saying at once, ‘You are the greatest.’ This is the Orient you heard about and came to find.”
This is an important article–I hope you’ll go read the rest at the NYT.
More stories to check out on this topic:
The Washington Post: Surveillance video shows Atlanta suspect entered first spa more than an hour before shooting.
Alex Wagner at The Atlantic: Our Asian Spring. In the ashes of violence and death, Asians and Americans of Asian descent are ready to put up a fight.
Melissa Jeltson at New York Magazine: The Flattening of the Atlanta Shootings.
USA Today: Atlanta spa shootings: Illicit reviews raise red flags that shooter targeted vulnerable women.
Slate: Coverage of Bay Area Anti-Asian Violence Is Missing a Key Element.
I think it’s clear that the motives of men who murder women are complicated. It may be true that Long had a sexual addiction, but he chose to act out the addiction in specific places with primarily Asian women employees. I doubt if he is a reliable reporter of his own reasons for his behavior. I think it’s important to listen to Asian and female voices over white men like Andrew Sullivan, Matthew Yglesias and Ken Vogel.
As always, this is an open thread.
Thursday Reads: A Bad Day For Him?Posted: March 18, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Asian women, Atlanta, Attacks on Asian Americans, Cherokee County GA, hate crimes, Jay Baker, mass shootings, misogyny, Racism 32 Comments
There’s a police captain in Atlanta named Jay Baker who needs to fired immediately. Since when do we take the word of mass murders on their motives?
So this pathetic loser was having a bad day? What about the 8 women he killed and their surviving family members? Or don’t they count because they aren’t white males?
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Captain Baker appears to be a racist. The Daily Beast: Georgia Sheriff Spokesman Posted Racist COVID Shirts on Facebook.
A Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson came under fire Wednesday afternoon for pinning the deadly Tuesday shooting rampage that left eight dead—including six Asian women—on a 21-year-old white man’s “really bad day.”
“Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” Jay Baker said during the joint news conference with the Atlanta Police Department about 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long.
But it seems the same spokesperson shared racist content online, including pointing the finger at China for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—the same vitriol advocates say has fueled a horrific surge in violence against Asian Americans.
In a Facebook page associated with Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, several photos show the law enforcer was promoting T-shirts with the slogan “COVID-19 imported virus from CHY-NA.”
“Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote with a smiley face on a March 30 photo that included the racist T-shirts.
“Love my shirt,” Baker wrote in another post in April 2020. “Get yours while they last.’”
The shirts appear to be printed by Deadline Appeal, owned by a former deputy sheriff from Cherokee County, and sold for $22. The store, which promotes fully customizable gear, also appears to print shirts for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, a “ceremonial unit, all volunteers, who represent not only the Sheriff’s Office but also the county when participating in a variety of events,” according to a March 10 Instagram post.
The Washington Post Editorial Board: Opinion: The Atlanta shootings cannot be dismissed as someone having a ‘bad day.’
Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Why Are We Taking Robert Aaron Long’s Word For It That The Georgia Killings Weren’t About Race?
When Georgia law enforcement briefed the public on Wednesday morning about the 21-year-old white man who shot and killed eight people—six of them Asian women—at Atlanta-area massage parlors Tuesday night, it wasn’t helpful.
Officials made a puzzling series of claims of fact, despite being cartoonishly cautious about other aspects of the case. Officials claimed that 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long had a “sex addiction” but admitted they didn’t know whether sex work occurred at the places where Long killed people. Who told them that Long had a sex addiction? Was it Long himself?
They weren’t sure whether Long was motivated by the racial identity or gender of his victims, and thus said they couldn’t say with certainty that a hate crime had been committed, but then again, they said with certainty that before he’d committed the crimes the shooter had “a really bad day.” Who told them that Long had a really bad day? Did they fact-check that one, or did they once again simply repeat the words of a suspected mass killer into a microphone? (I think I speak for a lot of people when I say: I don’t give a flying-saucer fuck about what kind of day a mass shooter was having before opening fire.)
In her book Down Girl, philosopher Kate Mann describes the phenomenon of “himpathy,” which she defines as “the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault, intimate-partner violence, homicide, and other misogynistic behavior.” The phenomenon is particularly on display when a male public figure is accused of sexual misconduct and his defenders comment on how the man’s life has been “ruined,” like when Lindsey Graham lost his marbles during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.
When men specifically target women in their violent crimes, some in positions of power fall all over themselves to make the case that those crimes were somehow in women’s power to stop, that men’s out-of-control unmet entitlement functions like a semitruck that lost the use of its brakes while heading down a steep grade, and that those who get hit should have moved out of the way.
Violent acts committed by men who have a problem with women and sex—they’re not getting enough; they feel bad about getting too much; the women who they believe should be giving them sex are instead choosing to have sex with other men—are similarly excused as something we should understand on an emotional level. If only women had been sluttier/less slutty when it came to the sad men, perhaps the men wouldn’t have been pushed to do what they did….
The murder of six Asian women and a white man and white woman in Atlanta didn’t only call to mind over-empathization with maleness; Long’s treatment by law enforcement also draws attention to the way authorities treat whiteness.
Harmeet Kaur at CNN: Fetishized, sexualized and marginalized, Asian women are uniquely vulnerable to violence.
Of the eight people who were killed when a White man attacked three metro Atlanta spas, six were Asian women.
Investigators said it was too early to say whether the crime was racially motivated, and instead pointed to the suspect’s claim of a potential sex addiction.
But experts and activists argue it’s no coincidence that six of the eight victims were Asian women. And the suspect’s remarks, they say, are rooted in a history of misogyny and stereotypes that are all too familiar for Asian and Asian American women.
They’re fetishized and hypersexualized. They’re seen as docile and submissive. On top of that, they’re often working in the service sector and are subject to the same racism that affects Asian Americans more broadly.
The way their race intersects with their gender makes Asian and Asian American women uniquely vulnerable to violence, said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum….
The perceptions of Asian and Asian American women as submissive, hypersexual and exotic can be traced back centuries.
Rachel Kuo, a scholar on race and co-leader of Asian American Feminist Collective, points to legal and political measures throughout the nation’s history that have shaped these harmful ideas.
One of the earliest examples comes from the Page Act of 1875.
That law, coming a few years before the Chinese Exclusion Act, was enacted seemingly to restrict prostitution and forced labor. In reality, it was used systematically to prevent Chinese women from immigrating to the US, under the pretense that they were prostitutes.
Read more details at CNN.
A few more stories on this topic:
Rex Huppke at The Chicago Tribune: Column: Atlanta shooting suspect’s ‘bad day’ and the whitewashing of white crime.
CNN: Unsettling questions surround the motive behind three Atlanta-area spa shootings as Asians in the US face increased hate.
The Washington Post: Asian Americans see shooting as a culmination of a year of racism.
The Atlantic: Why This Wave of Anti-Asian Racism Feels Different. The author Cathy Park Hong sees the recent upsurge in violence as a turning point for Asian Americans.
As always this is an open thread. What’s on your mind today?
Tuesday Reads: Angry Women Unite!Posted: July 16, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: angry women, Donald Trump, misogyny, Racism, rape culture rape kits 51 Comments
For months now, I’ve been feeling depressed and discouraged by the damage Trump is doing to our politics and our country. This morning I woke up and realized what I really am is angry, enraged, and pissed off! This has to end. Angry women must rise up and take back our country from the racist white supremacist in the White House, his GOP enablers, and his Russian troll army, and the white male-controlled media that is too fearful to call out his lies and racism.
Two angry women fighting back with intellect and direct action:
An angry woman in Montana stood up to on-line racist trolls and won. Buzzfeed News: A Judge Ruled A Neo-Nazi Blogger Should Pay $14 Million To A Woman Targeted In A Racist “Troll Storm.”
A federal judge ruled more than $14 million should be awarded to a woman who was barraged with anti-Semitic and threatening messages online after a neo-Nazi blogger instructed his followers to target her and her family with a “troll storm.”
The ruling was handed down Monday against Andrew Anglin, a white supremacist and publisher of the website The Daily Stormer.
In his decision, judge Jeremiah Lynch found that Anglin “acted with actual malice” when he told followers: “Let’s Hit Em Up. Are y’all ready for an old fashioned Troll Storm? Because AYO – it’s time, fam.”
What followed were a series of racist and sometimes threatening messages to Montana real estate agent Tanya Gersh, her co-workers, and her family, including her 12-year-old son.
The recommended ruling against Anglin included more than $200,000 for lost earnings and medical expenses incurred by Gersh, $821,000 for future lost earnings, and $3 million for past and future pain and suffering.
The bulk of the judgment, however, was the state maximum of $10 million in punitive damages against the white supremacist for what the judge called “particularly egregious and reprehensible” behavior and to “punish Anglin and deter him from engaging in such conduct in the future.”
I’m so angry today, because we have been battered by days of racist tweets and racist language spewed by the monster who is occupying the people’s White House. He is not my president and I will never call him that. I so agree with what Rep. Ayanna Pressley said about him:
“I never use the word you used — president — to describe him,” she said. “I refer to him as ‘the occupant.’ He simply occupies the space. He embodies zero of the qualities and the principles, the responsibility, the grace, the integrity, the compassion, of someone who would truly embody that office. It’s just another day in the world under this administration.”
At The Atlantic, Adam Serwer addresses Trump’s racism: Trump Tells America What Kind of Nationalist He Is.
On Sunday morning, the president told four members of Congress to “go back” to the countries “from which they came.” The remark, a racist taunt with a historic pedigree, inspired a flurry of fact-checking from mainstream journalists who were quick to note that Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar are American citizens, and that only Omar was born abroad, in Somalia. It was a rather remarkable exercise in missing the point.
When Trump told these women to “go back,” he was not making a factual claim about where they were born. He was stating his ideological belief that American citizenship is fundamentally racial, that only white people can truly be citizens, and that people of color, immigrants in particular, are only conditionally American. This is a cornerstone of white nationalism, and one of the president’s few closely held ideological beliefs. It is a moral conviction, not a statement of fact. If these women could all trace their family line back to 1776, it would not make them more American than Trump, a descendant of German immigrants whose ancestors arrived relatively recently, because he is white and they are not.
After telling minority members of Congress to go back to where they “came from,” Trump today accused the women of “foul language & racist hatred.” White nationalists in the United States have always asserted that they are, in fact, the true victims of racial hatred, even as they’ve demanded the exclusion of nonwhites from the polity. When the Confederacy was shattered, its partisans launched a propaganda campaign rewriting the origin of their rebellion as the defense of individual freedom rather than property in man. The Redeemers who overthrew Reconstruction with terrorism and violence portrayed themselves as the victims of Negro tyranny, and as the historian Jonathan Sokol has written, when de jure segregation unraveled in the South in the 1960s, white southerners “began to picture the American government as the fascist, and the white southerner as the victim.”
Read the rest at The Atlantic.
As a reminder, here is The New York Times’ recently updated compilation of Trump’s long racist history: Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List, Updated, by David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick.
More reads on Trump’s racism:
George Conway at The Washington Post: Trump is a racist president.
David Remnick at The New Yorker: A Racist in the White House.
Michael Luo at The New Yorker: Trump’s Racist Tweets, and the Question of Who Belongs in America.
Paul Krugman at The New York Times: Racism Comes Out of the Closet. The dog whistle days are apparently over.
Trump’s racism enrages me, but you know what makes me just as angry? Rape culture. And Trump in the White House is a visible symbol of America’s misogynist history.
Barbara Bradley Haggerty at The Atlantic: An Epidemic of Disbelief. What new research reveals about sexual predators, and why police fail to catch them.
Robert Spada walked into the decrepit warehouse in Detroit and surveyed the chaos: Thousands of cardboard boxes and large plastic bags were piled haphazardly throughout the cavernous space. The air inside was hot and musty. Spada, an assistant prosecutor, saw that some of the windows were open, others broken, exposing the room to the summer heat. Above the boxes, birds glided in slow, swooping circles.
It was August 17, 2009, and this brick fortress of a building housed evidence that had been collected by the Detroit Police Department. Spada’s visit had been prompted by a question: Why were police sometimes unable to locate crucial evidence? The answer lay in the disarray before him.
As Spada wandered through the warehouse, he made another discovery, one that would help uncover a decades-long scandal, not just in Detroit but across the country. He noticed rows of steel shelving lined with white cardboard boxes, 10 inches tall and a foot wide, stacked six feet high. What are those? he asked a Detroit police officer who was accompanying him. Rape kits, the officer said.
“I’m assuming they’ve been tested?” Spada said.
“Oh, they’ve all been tested.”
Spada pulled out a box and peered inside. The containers were still sealed, indicating that the evidence had never been sent to a lab. He opened four more boxes: the same.
“I tried to do a quick calculation,” he later told me. “I came up with approximately 10,000.”
Spada’s estimate was conservative. Eventually 11,341 untested rape kits were found, some dating back more than 30 years—each one a hermetically sealed testament to the most terrifying minutes of a woman’s life, each one holding evidence that had been swabbed or plucked from the most private parts of her body. And in all likelihood, some microscopic part of her assailant—his DNA, his identity—sat in that kit as well.
That’s thousands of rapists whose DNA was on file, yet police never even tried to catch them. Many, went on to rape more women. Why? Because police still don’t believe women. Please go read this important article.
An angry woman academic and author speaks up at The Lily (h/t Delphyne): A female historian wrote a book. Two male historians went on NPR to talk about it. They never mentioned her name. It’s Sarah Milov.
Sarah Milov was sitting at her kitchen table, nursing her baby, when she saw the tweet.
“It took substantial government support to create Americans’ dependency on tobacco,” wroteNathan Daniel Beau Connolly, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. “@edward_l_ayres and I talk with @jeremyhobson about the regulation of tobacco on this week’s @hereandnow.” Connolly ended the tweet with a “shout out” to Milov, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia whose forthcoming book, “The Cigarette: A Political History,” provided virtually all the material for the segment, which aired on Thursday.
Unfortunately, “Here & Now” — a radio show co-produced by NPR and WBUR in Boston, which is syndicated to approximately 5 million listeners — did not grant Milov the same courtesy. The three men on the segment, two historians and an NPR host, never mentioned Milov’s name or the name of her book.
“Every single word they said was from my book,” said Milov in an interview with The Lily. While the historians did not quote directly from “The Cigarette,” she said, every cited fact was taken from its pages. “Then I got to the end of a nearly 10-minute segment and did not hear myself credited at all.”
Read the rest at the link.
I’m so angry today. I know this post doesn’t make much sense, but it reflects my current state of mind. What’s going on with you today, Sky Dancers?