Delaware lawmaker apologizes for using slur against Asian women in email about sex work

Delaware lawmaker apologizes for using slur against Asian women in email about sex work

Local GOP officials aren’t the only ones who seem to openly use racial slurs—some Democratic officials need to be held accountable too. A state lawmaker in Delaware apologized Tuesday after sending an email that used a racist, sexist slur against Asian women. The email about sex work was sent to an advocate working on decriminalizing prostitution by Democratic State Rep. Gerald Brady on June 27, NBC News reported.

“Is the dude basically saying, if we provide free (sex acts) for Uncle Pervie there will be few rapes and few (slur for Asian women) will be shipped in CONEX containers to the Port of Wilmington??” Brady said from his official government email address in messages obtained by The News Journal of Wilmington.

According to The News Journal, the comments were in response to a study sent by the advocate that said sex crimes in a New York City precinct decreased with the presence of more strip clubs. The study was shared in connection to an email thread calling on Delaware lawmakers to take measures to protect sex workers in the state, including decriminalizing sex work in massage parlors and strip clubs.

While Brady allegedly intended to forward the message to someone he knows, he clicked “reply” instead of “forward,” resulting in his response to be received by the original sender, a spokesperson for the Delaware House Democratic Caucus told The News Journal. The conversation never mentioned Asian women at all and was unrelated to them until Brady used a slur commonly used to reference them. According to the Associated Press, the only connection to Asia the study had was a single reference citation to a 2018 analysis of sex crimes and prostitution in South Korea in a publication called Asian Development Perspectives.

Following backlash on his use of the term, Brady took to Facebook to apologize, noting that he has to do better. 

“There is no excuse I can offer that explains my embarrassing and shameful words that insulted, stereotyped and dehumanized an entire culture while making light of a serious human rights crisis,” he said. “Whether I think someone’s policy proposal is legitimate is immaterial; human trafficking deserves to be treated seriously and attacked aggressively – not treated as a punchline.”

Unlike other incidents in which local officials have been asked to step down for their racist commentary by their party, Brady has not been asked to do so. However, voters have called for him to step down, especially with the rise of Asian American hate nationwide.

The comment follows months of national conversation and attention on the abuse Asian Americans face in the U.S. Asian women specifically have been subject to violence not only throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen an increase in anti-Asian bias, but for generations due to the stereotypes associated with them.

Asian women have consistently been sexualized in western culture with multiple media depictions reinforcing this narrative, Daily Kos reported.

“If you talk to the average Asian American woman, most of us have been subject to varying degrees of sexual harassment that targets our gender and racial identities,” Yale University Sociology Department Chair Grace Kao said. “They do not exist separately in the lives of individuals.” Kao, an expert on Asian American studies, noted how the Atlanta shooter targeted Asian American given the fact that “Asian American women have been viewed as exotic and feminine objects in US mass media and suspected of prostitution from the earliest US immigration restrictions.”

While many believe these stereotypes aren’t harmful because they are often portrayed only on “screen,” they impact the daily lives of Asian American women.

“Killing Asian American women to eliminate a man’s temptation speaks to the history of the objectification of Asian and Asian American women as variations of the Asian temptress, the dragon ladies and the lotus blossoms, whose value is only in relation to men’s fantasies and desires,” Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the nonprofit National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum l, told NBC News in March. “This is horrifying. Stop fetishizing us.”

According to Stop AAPI Hate, at least 3,800 anti-hate incidents have been reported in the last year. The number is likely to be higher, the organization said, due to the number of those crimes that go unreported. The use of xenophobic language to describe the COVID-19 virus, misinformation, and stereotypes of Asians has been directly connected to a surge in hate crimes and bias nationwide.

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