I first posted this to Facebook, but it seems to be algorithmically buried in a way that is preventing it from being seen in the common feed. It’s been fairly well documented that platforms do this to posts that address racism, sex worker stigma, and other elements explored here-in. Every once in a while when this happens I am reminded of how these platforms do business and find myself questioning my engagement. Rather than just let the algorithms keep these conversations moving, I figured I could try a different way of sharing it.
CW: violence, injustice, racism, +++ I wish to state solidarity with Asian folks, sex workers and others who may feel more personally affected by this story. I share my view points with humility and hope that I am able to reach an audience that may have not be catching this story else where. I encourage everyone who can to follow the links at the bottom of the post to fundraisers and agencies that are doing on the ground work. —————————————————–
This morning I was caught up on the news out of Georgia. If you had also managed to miss this, I encourage you to look at the story, as well as the reasons you may have missed it. There are so many intersecting pieces.
A young white, christian man opened fire and killed 8 people in 3 massage parlors owned by and primarily staffed by Asian women. He denies a racial motivation, which is hard to swallow, but cannot be separated from the racial elements of labour and sexual currency. The fetishization of Asian women’s bodies is written into the fabric of America*. Generations of American* men returned from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam with their experiences of ‘comfort women’ (Asian women trafficked for the use of sex exploitation by the military industrial complex *while the term comfort women is used to describe the Imperial Japanese practice, the practice of wartime trafficking for soldiers was/is not isolated to the Japanese program) and the idea of ‘mail-order’ companions persists along side the full service massage parlour industry where Asian women’s bodies are treated as a consumable product for White male sexual appetites.
The shooter professed to having been a client in the parlours and having struggled with sex addiction. He also was known to have been “born again” and identified with the prodigal son, returning to a salvation of fundamentalist Christianity. The way that sexuality is framed and treated within this worldview is deeply problematic on so many levels, but I will try and keep it simple. Within patriarchal church views, men are sexual superiors to women and ‘deviants’. The role of men is to be a dominant power in sexual exchange, and the only ‘righteous’ venue for sexual exchange is within heterosexual marriage. This of course brings about a great deal of problems for women who are in these marriages and are not treated with agency or valued as meaningful partners within sexual exchange, but rather objects to be dominated and used for sexual gratification and reproductive labour. This also leaves all sexual desire outside of the acceptable norm as sinful, problematic, temptations of the flesh/the devil. Sex workers are employed by men within this paradigm, but then blamed for the desires which they were employed to fulfill.
When cross pollinated with gun culture and the racist fabric of colonial North American society, we see the death tolls in the overlaps. We see the dead massage parlour workers, we see the dead Black trans sex workers, we see the missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Or we don’t see them, which is also a part of the problem.
The lives of these women* by grounds of their race, gender, occupation are seen as worth – less by our society, in ways where in their stories are not treated with the same gravity as those on other axis of value and agency. This is reflected in media, not only news media, but also the curated feeds we may each find ourselves scrolling. **Added note: this post was originally made on social media and I migrated it over here because it was algorithmically buried and getting almost no traffic despite the fact it was shared by multiple people**I know for myself, over the past few days I had seen a few select posts expressing solidarity with Asian folks, and I assumed that this was in relation to the reported massive uptick of anti-Asian violence experienced on the personal, interpersonal and societal levels in regards to covid-19. Many folks are too laden by stigma of sex work to speak out against this violence, respectability is a filter that treats sex workers as additionally disposable.
I hadn’t really seen this story in detail or pieced together the ways that helped me understand it was a place where violence against sex workers, violence against racialized folks, violence against women, gun violence, purity culture and fundamentalism overlapped until I had it beautifully and tenderly laid out by Kai Cheng Thom within a Community of Practice call for Somatic Sex Education students and practitioners in a way that perfectly dovetailed with a podcast I listened to yesterday with Kevin Garcia, author of Bad Theology Kills. Gratitude to these teachers.
I encourage you to take a moment today to really look at your values around sexuality.
Where do they come from?
How has white supremacy had a part in shaping them?
What are you doing today, to dissect and dismantle parts of dominant culture that you may know intellectually are toxic, but that still exist within your body?
This is not something that has an easy answer, this is the muck, the long game process work that strives towards liberation, but has a lot to unpack on its way there.
Remember to breathe. Things move through us with breath, sound and movement- do not find yourself silent or frozen in the face of these atrocities.
*Labels like American and Women are generalized and can in this instance include much more than those who may apply the label to themself. Canada has it’s own incarnation of “american values” and many colonial nation states suffer similar issues of power paradigms built on conquest and genocide. Women in this use includes trans, non-binary and two-spirit people who are subject to misogynist violence under a patriarchal order.