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Chinese-American Sexual harassment

Sexy

Long ago, when I was young and sexy, guys would come on to me by confessing that they had a thing for Asian women. These guys were never Asian themselves. They were mostly white. They did not come from communities of color. To them, Asian women were exotic, exciting and, yes, inscrutable.

I would of course steer clear of these weirdos. I preferred to be deemed sexy on my own merits. Looking back, this probably speaks more to my narcissism than any woke refusal to be objectified. It didn’t seem like a bad thing at the time to be seen as sexy, even if the grounds might be odd.

Now we know that it is possible to be too sexy, too tempting, too easily slotted into a sick male dream of domination that ends with a coffin for the sexy Asian woman and a bad day for the perpetrator.

It’s just a joke

When I was in law school, I had a buddy named Bobby. We were friends despite his self-confessed weakness for Asian women. It was a cross he’d been carrying around for a long time. Apparently, his father’s greatest fear was that young Bobby would come home with some gook.

Bobby and I decided to play a joke on dear old dad. Or maybe it was Bobby who saw a great opportunity to give the old man a heart attack and I said, whatever. In any event, I did as instructed.

Man with cigar
Image source: openclipart

I went to visit Bobby’s father at his place of work. It was like a scene out of some fifties movie. A dark wood paneled room. Three white guys beer bellies propped, chairs tilted back, heels on their desks, mouths nursing stogies. It was clear which one was Bobby’s father. He sat in the biggest chair and had the biggest stogie in his laughing mouth. His pasty white face went grey upon hearing my announcement that I was a friend of his son’s. The heels came off the desks as the three men waited to hear my extortionate demands.

Happily ever after

After law school, Bobby and I lost touch. I’m sorry to say that his memory was completely wiped from my mind until I started writing a blog post about sexual harassment. The incident I’ve just described was part of that piece. It was the second blog post I had ever written and I was still feeling my way around what is or is not acceptable in the blogosphere.

I posted my piece and went to bed. There, I tossed and turned worrying that Bobby might find my post and be offended. My husband cheerfully told me not to worry. He said, no one will read your blog. At that point, I got out of bed and deleted the entire section about Bobby and his weakness for sexy Asian women.

This moment of self-censorship is ironic given the point of that blog post:

if you don’t talk about these abuses, you can’t stop them. Call it the politics of pain. Then do something about it. Draw your line in the sand. Enough is enough. Say it loud so everyone can hear.

Karen Kao, The Politics of Pain, Shanghai Noir 26 Oct 2016

I’m too sexy

There’s a great scene from the TV series, West Wing, when White House press secretary C.J. Cregg attempts to sing Right Said Fred’s I’m too sexy. There are many things for which Fred and C.J. are too sexy: their shirt, their shoes, Milan and this song.

What was too sexy about the six Asian women shot and killed by Robert Aaron Long? Because clearly he had a thing about Asian women.

sexy temptation
Temptation by Luis Prado

The suspect told the police that he had a “sexual addiction” and had carried out the shootings at the massage parlors to eliminate his “temptation,” the authorities said on Wednesday.

Richard Fausset, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Marie Fazio, “8 Dead in Atlanta Spa Shooting” in The New York Times, 18 March 2021

Lots of folks are pointing fingers at Trump for demonizing China as the cause of Covid-19. They cite a sharp rise since the pandemic started in anti-Asian hate crime in the US. The Atlanta police remain reluctant to assign racial motives to these killings. They seem to be ok with the idea that it’s just a crime against women.

Asian women, young and old, sexy or not, are afraid to go out alone in America. They are sheltering in place in New York City and San Francisco and now Atlanta, too. It seems that, if Covid-19 doesn’t get you, some shitbag will.

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