Man Charged with Hate Crimes in Robberies Targeting Chinese American Women | #ModelMinorityMisogyny

Manuel Israel was charged with hate crimes targeting Asian American women.
Manuel Israel was charged with hate crimes targeting Asian American women.

Earlier this week, Manuel Israel, a 20-year-old Manhattan-area purse-snatcher, was arrested and charged with 36 counts, including second-degree assault, second- and third-degree robbery and multiple assault-related hate crimes charges. All of the charges stem from a series of 6 muggings involving Chinese American female victims.

When arrested, Israel apparently said that he targeted Chinese American women because he perceived us to be “vulnerable to attack”.

Authorities say that in each of the attacks, Israel allegedly ambushed the women from behind and grabbed their purses while simultaneously pushing them to the ground. Many of Israel’s alleged victims suffered injuries, including bruises and cuts. In the most recent incident — which occurred on April 6th a few minutes after midnight — a witness claims they saw Israel grab a woman from behind, allegedly putting his arm around her neck as he took her purse. That witness called 911, and Israel was arrested 20 minutes later in the area of the attack.

District Attorney  Ken Thompson said in a statement: “This defendant allegedly targeted Asian women walking alone because he believed he could overpower them. Such cowardly attacks – whether based on a person’s race, gender, sexuality or ethnicity, destroy the fabric of who we are as a community and won’t be tolerated.”

There is absolutely no dispute that misogyny is not one-size-fits-all; instead, all misogyny is racialized. What Asian American women face is a very particular and specific interplay between misogyny and the Model Minority Myth: “Model Minority Misogyny”, if you will.

(Previously, I labeled this idea “Misogynasian“, but wasn’t entirely happy with the word for reasons discussed in that linked post. So these days I favour the phrase, “Model Minority Misogyny”.)

We are stereotyped as unassertive, non-aggressive, submissive, while simultaneously hypersexual. We are posited to be well-behaved and eager-to-please in all spheres: whether professionally, or emotionally, or physically, or sexually. We are lifted up in both our appearance and our demeanor as a “model of femininity”, which becomes an implicit (or sometimes explicit) castigation of Western (re: White) feminism. We are positioned through misogyny as feminism’s “wedge women”.

There are lots of reasons why this brand of racialized anti-Asian misogyny is detrimental to Asian American women. But with regard to the case of Manuel Israel, the stereotype of the unassertive and submissive Asian American women becomes the presumption that we are physically weak and vulnerable; the presumption that we will not fight back; the presumption that we are a natural target for violence.

We must wonder: how pervasive is this particular facet of Model Minority Misogyny? Could the racist perception of Asian American women as easy targets have been in the back of the minds of the LAPD police officers who kidnapped 27-year-old Kim Nguyen and sexually assaulted her in the backseat of a police car (in an incident that also involved Nguyen falling out of the cruiser while it was still moving)? Could these stereotypes have emboldened the Chicago police who physically assaulted salon owner Jianqing Klyzek during a raid? Could the same reasoning that Israel used to conclude that Asian American women are “vulnerable to attack” be the same sort of implicit biases that result in 40-60% of Asian American women reporting being victims of some form of domestic violence?

And to what extent does Model Minority Misogyny’s forced positioning of Asian American women as feminism’s “wedge woman” result in heightened anger for the Asian American woman who refuses to perform as demanded? The Asian American feminist who stands up for herself defies not just the racial boundaries of the Model Minority Myth but also the gendered boundaries of Model Minority Misogyny: is she judged more harshly for it? Do women like Ellen Pao and Nan-Hui Jo (or pundits like Suey Park, Juliet Shen, or even myself) garner backlash because we are twice dissonant — our actions deemed too subversive because they go against both the logic of White supremacy and male privilege?

Instead, Asian American women are expected to silently inhabit the stereotype of the meek and the weak; the misogynist’s ideal woman. We are expected to covet this role, despite this being no desirable social or political status: when we can only be demure and always defer, we can have no empowerment or agency for ourselves. We can only ever walk with head bowed, two steps behind and to the left.

And for some predators who’s misogyny manifests in real and brutal violence, we apparently also become “easy prey”.

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  • Myra Esoteric

    I hope this guy is not Asian American himself. I am not certain of his ethnicity.

  • 1maybeso

    The man in your article is Hispanic. The officers who assaulted Kim Nguyen were both Asian American. The officer who assaulted Klyzek was white. And the 40-60% of Asian American woman ststistic you cite does not give a racial breakdown of the assailants. As such, it looks like the field of perpetrators is pretty diverse. I see no reason to explain this phenomenon using “white supremacy.” It does not apply.

  • That is not what this article is positing.

  • Josh B

    If they’re foreigners, then I think it’s also worth mentioning the rich tourist stereotype…I mean damn, it’s not uncommon to see Chinese students here in the UK are walking around with their £10000 Rolex watches, or £1000 designer handbags.

  • Josh B

    And it’s good to see that you’re not too much of a dipshit, but all those words like “submissive” or “hypersexual” or whatever are just euphemisms – sorry to be racist, but the best way to describe it is to be blunt – most people view Asian women as the ugly slanty-eyed whores. THAT is where the whole “yellow fever” comes from (something that doesn’t actually exist, since Asian women aren’t considered particularly attractive by 90% of the western population) – it’s all about power: male over female, white over yellow. The chinky whore, and the white master. You’d be naive to think otherwise! Damn, I was born to this kind of relationship and have spoken to enough people that I don’t believe that it is possible to have a WM/AF relationship without these thoughts entering the guy’s mind. Afterall, all of a sudden you’ve got a beta-ass bottom-of-the-pile white guy, who’s suddenly become both racially and sexually superior to an entire race! Lol, I just feel sorry for any Asian-looking hapa sons…

  • hernan cortez

    I am not condoning crime against asians but Asian americans do make “good targets” for street robberies as perverse as that feels to type. The ideal target

    -wont complain if robbed

    -is physically weak or small

    -won’t fight back

    -won’t carry a weapon

    -lives in a major urban city that ban guns and has so many people its hard to identify the criminal

    -carries lots of cash

    Dumb people believe in stereotypes. Who do you think makes a better robbery target, a white hispter who does all his banking on line, an arab who are known for carrying knives illegally, a black (who speaks english, will fight back and don’t carry lots of cash), or the asian convenience store owner who has lots of cash from their store and fits the above criteria?

    Asians are not targetted because their skin is yellow or eyes are slanty, they are targetted specifically for a stereotype attributed to them. which are:

    -wont complain if robbed

    -is physically weak or small

    -won’t fight back

    -won’t carry a weapon

    -lives in a major urban city that ban guns and has so many people its hard to identify the criminal

    -carries lots of cash

  • Myra Esoteric

    Thanks for repeating what I just said.

    >an arab who are known for carrying knives illegally

    Lmao

  • TSK

    The man should be jailed for life.

  • TSK

    People of color ought to be aware that we are on the same side?

    Why don’t you ask Asian business store owners when their store got targeted and robbed by black youths when a black man was shot by a white officer (which had nothing to do with Asians) but their store got robbed and ransacked.

  • TSK

    That’s definitely true. They don’t fight back because they don’t want to make any “scene” but they should change those mentality.

  • TSK

    Yeah that too.