On March 11, 2022, Tamo Esco, a robust young man, attacked a 67-year-old Asian woman in Yonkers, New York. He yelled “Asian slut” at the woman passing by, and although she ignored her, Esco still followed her into the building and slammed her to the ground from behind. For the next 1 minute and 12 seconds, he punched her 125 times and stomped her 7 times, spitting on her before leaving. The unnamed victim was taken to hospital with a broken face, bleeding in the brain and a head full of bruises. Esco was charged with attempted murder.
Just four weeks before the incident, Christina Lee, a 35-year-old Korean-American woman, was murdered in her apartment in New York’s Chinatown in the early hours of February 13. That day, when she came home from a party, she was followed into the apartment by 25-year-old homeless Assamed Nash. One hour and 20 minutes later, police found her topless, stabbed more than 40 times, and killed in the bathtub at home in the process of resisting rape.
125 punches, 40 stab wounds. I still can’t get rid of the numbers in my head, and can’t imagine how it all happened. How could someone hit an old man 125 times with their fists until her bones were broken into pieces? How could someone stab another person with a dagger up to 40 times until she bled to her death? Do these people realize that victims are human too?
I had just left Chinatown for a few hours when I heard the news of Lee’s murder. It was the last Saturday before the Lunar New Year, the sun was shining and the weather was warm, and Chinatown was buzzing with a lion dance, a traditional event that people hope to ward off demons and bring good luck. In the past two years, the Asian American community has experienced a heavy blow: In 2021, attacks against Asian Americans have increased by 361%, and Asian-run businesses have also been hit by the new crown epidemic. On that day, the air in Chinatown was filled with the smell of firecrackers, confetti scattered everywhere, and the celebratory procession was accompanied by the clamor of gongs and drums. People laughed and used such a celebration to heal their hearts and welcome spring.
The next morning, I read the headline “Woman Followed and Stabbed to Death in Chinatown Apartment” and realized I had happened to pass by her residence the day before. According to the report, she was three years younger than me and loved art and music during her lifetime. Sounds like me.
The organization Stop Hating Asian Americans recorded a total of 6,506 incidents of hate conflict against Asian American and Pacific Islander women between March 2020 and December 2021, and the real number should be much higher. But in the reports about Li’s murder, the issue of racial discrimination is always brought up in one sentence.
CNN said, “It is unclear whether Lee’s racial identity was one of the reasons for her attack.”
The New York Times said, “The authorities have not been able to determine that Lee was targeted because of her race . characteristics.”
As a journalist, I can understand that news reports are reluctant to over-interpret what the police say, and the police need more evidence to support hate crimes. But as an Asian woman, I think this kind of “don’t know if race is the cause” coverage is more of a denial of what’s happened to us and of American history, and has us mired in cultural self-doubt.
free mind. Christina Lee’s friends say she “rarely walks slowly, always seems to be dancing”. Regarding her murder, the media has always avoided the topic of racial discrimination against Asians.
| acquiescence indulgence |
In 1898, under the banner of “helping the Filipinos fight against the Spanish colonists”, the United States secretly signed an agreement with Spain to buy the Philippines for $20 million. While the Filipinos took up arms and fought for independence, the United States deployed 125,000 soldiers to stop them. The war lasted more than three years and nearly razed the entire Philippines to the ground. Many Filipino women had to sell themselves to survive, and those American men suddenly found that almost all the women they met in this country were sex workers.
Legal scholar Sonny Voan once wrote: In the Philippines, an American soldier can get a girl for the money of a hamburger. In their eyes, Filipino women are so humble that they can make all kinds of humiliating sexual demands and do things that are completely impossible for them to do when they return to the United States and face their wives.
The U.S. military registers sex workers, gives them regular checkups for venereal diseases, treats them as pets, and sees these moves as necessary to preserve the imperial system. “They felt that they needed to meet the sexual needs of soldiers on the battlefield. Without such a system to monitor these women, if the soldiers fell ill, the US military would not be able to fight.” Historian Ball Kramer said. Physiological needs are solving very important manpower problems, after all, we need soldiers to be healthy and active, so this is all taken for granted.”
By the time the United States ended its colonial rule in the Philippines half a century later, this concept had spread Travel to many parts of Asia, laying the groundwork for the notorious illegal sex entertainment industry there. At the end of World War II, in order to prevent the US military from raping civilians, Japan opened a large number of brothels and recruited 55,000 women, many of whom served as many as 60 American soldiers every day, and a large number of women chose to commit suicide.
Although Japan has a history of exploiting prostitutes, the use of them as military necessities is influenced by Western imperialist tactics. In the 1930s, Japan began to provide “comfortable places” for Japanese troops stationed abroad. During the post-war period when the US military was stationed, it was the first time that the Japanese offered their women as sex slaves to foreign troops.
In 1950, the U.S. military established a recuperation system shortly after entering the Korean battlefield, allowing soldiers to temporarily leave the battlefield to go to Japan on vacation. Soldiers dubbed it a “journey of destruction” or a “journey of indulgence.” By the time the US military entered Vietnam in 1965, this network of “comfort places” had spread across the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, with 85 percent of the soldiers surveyed admitting to prostitution. A year later, U.S. Senator James Fulbright noted that “Saigon has become America’s brothel.” When U.S. troops left Vietnam in 1975, there were some 500,000 prostitutes there.
The United Kingdom, Australia and other Western countries have also developed their own rest and recuperation systems. Cramer called this system of sexual exploitation a “military complex.” An Australian naval officer once recounted his experience of “recuperating” in Thailand in the 1960s online: “Really anything can be sold. I think it has something to do with the soldiers who just went through the killings in Vietnam, and now they have a bunch of them. Wishes come true… There are a lot of great cheap hotels and massage parlors out there. For four or five hundred baht, or more than $20, you can hire a 24-hour prostitute and tour guide, and other services can be discussed.”
This “rest system” has not disappeared. In 2018, an American soldier posted an online question about other people’s recuperation experiences. The most liked response was: “Go to Thailand! My cousin went to Thailand during the ‘recuperation’ period and spent 14 days either eating, drinking or visiting prostitutes.” The
United Nations And many international NGOs provide this kind of rest and recuperation system for employees who work in hard jobs. The system became notorious as many people used the opportunity to sexually assault other aid workers and locals. These arrogant, shameless Western men, with a victorious attitude, arrogantly despise the losers in their eyes. While working in the southern hemisphere, I have seen many men control and possess women as they please, and their cost of an hour can cover their household for a month. Out of self-preservation, I cut my hair short and started wearing loose, neutral clothing in an attempt to hide my gender and body so that I wouldn’t be seen as another Asian plaything by Western men.
| She’s funny and not complicated |
In doing so, I was fighting a time-honored tradition. In 1887, French writer Pierre Lotti published a semi-autobiographical novel, Madame Kikuko, about the experience of a naval officer who came to Japan in search of a temporary wife. The book describes: “This petite, cream-skinned woman with jet-black hair and cat-like eyes is beautiful, not much taller than a doll.” After marrying Mrs. Kikuko, he mused: “She doesn’t Any ideas of your own. Even if she has, I don’t care.”
Vietnam Syndrome. American soldiers dance in a bar in Saigon, November 1963.
She was just another oriental doll in his collection, beautiful but soulless. The book was a huge success, being reprinted over 200 times during Lottie’s lifetime, inspiring the creation of the opera Madame Butterfly (premiered in 1904, set in Japan), which in turn inspired Hollywood The earliest color film “The Sea Gone” (1922, the background is China), the musical “Miss Saigon” (1989, the background is Vietnam) and the film “Mr. Butterfly” (1993, the background is China) came into being. Although the geopolitical interests of Eastern and Western countries have changed, the content of these stories is largely the same: an Asian woman falls in love with a white man, bears a child for him, only to find it is wishful thinking, and finally chooses to commit suicide. Despite decades of worldwide protests against Miss Saigon, its 25th anniversary special broke London box office records with £4.4m on its opening day.
In 1990, the British “Wise People” magazine published an article “Eastern Girl”, which discussed “the fantasy that the great Western men continue to pursue”: “When you come home from the heavy work, she appears in time to take off your coat and put it on for you. Good hot water, walk up behind you naked to help you relax, and then go through the clouds with you…she’s fun and not complicated. She doesn’t go to any confidence-building classes, she doesn’t keep asking you to respect her, she doesn’t A career sullen and won’t insist that you have to bring her an orgasm.”
classic literature. Pierre Lotti published Madame Kikuko in 1887, and such stories have been imitated and repeated since then.
Stanley Kubrick once described the experience of the US military in the Vietnam War in his 1987 film “Full Metal Jacket”, in which a Vietnamese prostitute’s line “I’m so horny, I’ve loved you for a long time” is named Noisy for a while, it has since been used on a number of popular songs, some of which topped the American Songs Chart in 1989 and were number two in album sales in 1992. These songs made “I’m so horny” a cultural catchphrase, while also creating a nightmare for Asian women, where they continue to be ridiculed and harassed by racism.
|”Deadly Yellow Fever”|
Every woman can encounter oddballs, and Asian women often have a lot of commonality in their encounters. On European and American photo-sharing social media, there is an account dedicated to sharing racist messages that Asian women receive on dating sites, such as “I love Asian food and maybe Asian chicks too. So I’d love to try it” .
Since such a conversation cannot be avoided, many women can only roll their eyes in resignation. We seldom explore the depth and impact of “yellow fever,” a parody of a maniacal obsession with Asian women, alluding to the fact that Asian women’s bodies are breeding grounds for disease. Its deeper meaning comes from the “father of modern gynecology” Marion Sims, who believed that Asian women had a unique strain of syphilis. In 1876, Sims sounded the “mortal wake-up call” in a speech at the American Medical Association’s festivities. For the next century, the U.S. military conducted multiple STD screenings for women in its brothels across Asia to prevent American soldiers from contracting “yellow fever,” either physically or mentally.
On March 16, 2021, a 21-year-old man rushed into three massage parlors in Atlanta and shot and killed eight people, including six Asian women: Park Chunzheng, Jin Shunche, Yue Yongai, Xuanzhen Grant, Tan Xiaojie, and Feng Daoyou . Gunman Robert Long said his motive was “sex addiction” – for him, the women were temptations that needed to be removed. Most men “cured yellow fever” by dating Asian women, and Long chose to kill them.
”It was a bad day for him, so he did that,” Capt. Jay Baker of the local sheriff’s office said of Long’s motives at a news conference. The media seized on the flippant remark Make a big fuss, and a year later, go to Google to search “Atlanta massage parlor shooting” and “bad day” and you will get 2.5 million results, and search for “Atlanta massage parlor shooting” and the name of one of the Asian victims, But there are only 1400 to 2200 results. Isn’t discussing these six lives far less meaningful than “a bad day for Ron”?
When the media focuses on victims, it often takes pornographic cues. In English-language reporting, these women are placed at the center of reporting only when journalists want to examine and blame possible sex trafficking, otherwise they are just props in a mass shooting.
The coverage surrounding “A Bad Day at Rong” lacked any cultural discussion, nor did it mention that these Asian women all happened to be born during or shortly after the U.S. war in Asia. They are in America precisely because their homeland has been plundered. For them, immigration was one of the few escapes from war and economic depression. Whereas in the US, there are not many ways for them to make a living, and in the end they have to ignore the danger and accept the system that keeps exploiting them.
In a cultural milieu where Asian women are easily devalued, Nash and Long simply turned that demeaning consciousness into murderous behavior.
| Mental illness as a cover |
Regarding the murder of Lee, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that the city should take action to better prevent the occurrence of mental illness. At the memorial service for the murdered Asian woman, officials lined up seemingly dutifully, solemnly saying, “This must stop!” While still pointing the finger at mental illness.
Yet mental illness is just a guise to make these extreme behaviors more acceptable. In a cultural milieu where Asian women are easily devalued, Nash and Long simply turned that demeaning consciousness into murderous behavior.
A continuation of the oriental style. From “Madame Butterfly” to “Full Metal Jacket” to “Miss Saigon”, it can be said that they are in the same line.
On January 15, 2022, Michelle Wu, a 40-year-old Chinese-American woman, died after being pushed off a Times Square subway platform. The attacker, Matthias Simon, was a homeless man with schizophrenia. Authorities said there was no evidence Wu’s killing was racially related.
Repeatedly denying racial causes and emphasizing the existence of mental illness mitigates the state’s culpability, while sending the message that these are just random attacks by lunatics on strangers, so lock up lunatics and be careful in the future.
However, the U.S. government has been unable to effectively manage these risks. Simon had been in and out of the hospital many times in the years before Wu was killed. Simon said he would push a woman off the tracks “sooner or later”, a psychoanalyst at a state psychiatric hospital wrote in a 2017 medical record. Even so, he was discharged from the hospital.
Asian American women are constantly being told to protect themselves. I’m in a chat group full of information about buying wolf guards and portable sirens. At some events, well-meaning nonprofit employees would stuff me with self-defense flyers, leaving me at a loss. The thought of teaching my parents how to defend myself with a karate slap made me cry even more. At the same time, authorities are still investigating whether the recent victims — my Asian American sisters — were targeted because of their race.