The tragic Atlanta shootings that killed six Asian women have caught our attention, though neither the violence against women nor the hate mongering against Asians is sudden or new. Is there anything concrete we can do?
While the Atlanta shootings have gripped America, on the other side of the Atlantic, in the UK, the killing of Sarah Everard has got the attention of their citizens. A policeman has been accused of kidnapping and murdering her. The immediate focus appears to be on stopping the vigils for Everard rather than trying to understand how to stop another woman becoming the next Sarah Everard. In Turkey, the attention is on a trial to punish a woman who shot and killed her husband after enduring 12 years of brutal torture.
With few exceptions, most populations in the world have patriarchal structures that have made men privileged in more ways than one. And the biases and thoughts have been enshrined in all our religions and daily practices. A first step is for us men to admit what is obvious and strive to treat the women in our lives with equal respect. It is not about being politically correct. It is about setting an example for the next generation of young men. With more respect from men will come fewer violations and less violence against women.
The only question that remains about the shooter’s motive in the killings of Asian women in Atlanta is this: Did he find the women attractive, so he killed them? Or he hated them, so he killed them? But it is inescapable that being Asian was why those women died. We cannot dismiss the year-long rhetoric connecting coronavirus to all people of Asian origin as having nothing to do with the killings. Nor can we dismiss the purposeful mingling of the dislike for the Government of China with dislike for peoples of Asian origin. All forms of bigotry have consequences.
Our words and actions matter. Not just of those in power. We can make a difference. When we see disrespect or hatred for women, we can stand up as a bulwark. When we see an Asian neighbor, we can acknowledge the sadness of their community and tell them we stand united with them against hatred.
March is women’s history month. That history needs a lot less violence and a lot more respect.