The Gendered Racialization of Asian Women as Villainous Temptresses

Maria Cecilia Hwang, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


What explains white male animus against Asian women? We address this question by examining the murders in Atlanta, GA, which reflect a larger global pattern of violence against what are perceived as hypersexualized Asian women. Dominant discourses on these murders promote either a narrative of racial xenophobia or a stance for or against sex work. Neither discourse adequately accounts for the simultaneous racial and gendered determination of Asian women’s experiences. In this commentary, we provide a racial–gender analysis and underscore how the gendered racialization of Asian women as hypersexual can result in their perception as disposable bodies for white male rage. As we explain, hypersexualization implies immorality, which in turn threatens the social order and thereby justifies Asian women’s disposability. This commentary establishes Asian women’s hypersexualization as a century-old view in American society perpetuated in cinema and the law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-576
Number of pages10
JournalGender and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • anti-Asian racism
  • gendered racism
  • gendered violence
  • hypersexualization
  • legal violence


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