Comfort Women (1) Despite the fact that twentieth century is being traditionally associated with rapid pace of cultural and technological progress, it is also closely linked to institutionalized violation of peoples civil rights, during the course of WW1 and WW2. We have all heard the stories of Holocaust survivors, who claim to have been subjected to unimaginable cruelty, on the part of Germans. In fact, the notion of Holocaust became a practical tool for these survivors to indulge in extortionist practices, while demanding a monetary compensation from Swiss banks for the moral damages they sustained, when they were the inmates of German concentration camps. Germany pays $250 millions to Israel, on annual basis, as reparations for Holocaust. However, it is not just Jews alone who had suffered during WW2. Countless atrocities committed against Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, and Germans are surrounded with the wall of silence, on the part of the same Medias that never get tired of promoting the Holocaust as the worst crime in modern history.
The same can be said about 80.000-200.000 Chinese, Korean, Malaysian and Japanese women, who were forced to become sex slaves by Japanese authorities, from 1932 to 1945. These women used to be referred to as comfort women, because Japanese, just like Germans, would resort to the usage of euphemisms, while discussing the practical implementation of their criminal intentions. Tessa Morris-Suzukis article Comfort Women: Its Time for the Truth provides us with historical retrospective on the issue: Though there is much confusion and controversy over the history of the comfort stations, certain facts are clear. Military brothels were created all over the occupied areas of Asia during the war for the use of Japanese soldiers: the first were set up as early as 1932, but most were created after the outbreak of full-scale fighting in China in 1937 The number of women recruited to work in these places is unknown – estimates vary from 20,000 to 400,000, though a careful study by historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki suggests a narrower range of between 50,000 and 200,000. The methods of recruitment and the conditions, which women faced, also varied enormously. A very large number were women from Korea and China. Many had been lured away from their homes with promises of work in factories or restaurants, only to find themselves incarcerated in comfort stations (Morris-Suzuki).
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During the course of trials against Japanese war criminals in 1947, the issue of comfort women had never been mentioned, because the suffering of comfort women in Japan could not serve as legal precedent for extracting monetary reparations from this country, as it was the case with the issue of Holocaust in Germany.
The occupation authorities in Japan, after the end of WW2, could not care less about the well-being of ordinary Japanese citizens. In fact, the notion of crime against humanity could not really be applied, in order to describe the crimes of Japanese military leaders, especially after 200.000 Japanese civilians had been incinerated alive in the matter of few seconds, as result of nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1946, American authorities had opened up a few hospitals in Tokyo, where the victims of nuclear attack were supposed to be getting a treatment. However, to their amazement, American doctors were not prescribing them any medicine. Actually, these doctors were only interested in studying the effects of radiation on people. This example provides us with the insight as to why the issue of comfort women has been forgotten for more than half a century. Apparently, Americans did not even consider Japanese people as human beings, in traditional context of this word.
The American Medias of the time would not even refer to Japanese other then filthy Japs. In their turn, Japanese considered other Asians as inferior races, while often referring to themselves as Asian Aryans. Even today, 300.000 Japanese citizens of Korean descend are officially deprived of many civil rights. For example, almost every Japanese restaurant in Tokyo features sign Koreans are not allowed on the door. Thus, only very naive people would expect from Americans, after the end of WW2, to be really concerned about the fate of female sex slaves in Japan, especially given the fact that the concept of womens liberation was unknown at that time. We need to understand that, in post-modern world, people only think of historical events as such that really did take place, when they are being told about them on TV. Given the fact that 95% of American Medias belong to the representatives of chosen people, it comes as no surprise that these Medias were only interested in revealing Nazi crimes against Jews.
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The reason why victims of sexual abuse in wartime Japan are often not even allowed to hold demonstrations in front of Japanese embassies in many Asian countries is that they do not have a political weight. The Japanese government denies the very existence of comfort stations during WW2, because there is no factual evidence to substantiate the claims of comfort women. The same can be said about Holocaust there is no single factual proof that Jews have been murdered by Germans on industrial scale. The notion of Holocaust rests exclusively on witnesses accounts, with the number of witnesses continuing to increase, as time goes by. Nevertheless, no politician in his sober mind would ever consider doubting the main premise of Holocaust theory. Unfortunately, it is not the case with the issue of female sex slaves in Japan. Somehow, it is being assumed that the suffering of comfort women in Japan cannot be compared to the suffering of Jews.
In her article Comfort Women, Dottie Horn provides us with Pak Kumjoos with first hand account of what it felt like being turned into sex slave: Whether it was morning or night, once one soldier left, the next soldier came. Twenty men would come in one day… We would try to talk each other out of committing suicide, but even with that, women still did. There were women who stole opium and took it. If they took a lot of it, they would vomit blood and die. There were people who died after gulping medicine whose name they didn’t even know.
... paper examines some of the aspects of women in Japanese theater.IIntroductionThe history of women in Japanese theater is the history of the social ... have a theatrical tradition, and in Japan at least, it has some basis in fact. Some prostitutes used their stage appearances ... prostitute while at the same time maintaining a pose of sexual availability not ostensibly required of an artist. An actress ...
There were also people who hanged themselves with their clothing when inside the toilet. Because there were people who tried to kill themselves even if they only had some string, we tried to hide string from each other (Horn).
Japanese officials do not deny that there were women forced to provide sexual comfort to soldiers; however, they strive to limit the scope of this issue by suggesting that prostitution existed since the dawn of civilization and that turning women into sexual slaves, on the part of Japanese government, was a necessary measure, just as was necessary for American officials to keep American citizens of Japanese descend in concentration camps, until the end of hostilities with Japan. It was very crucial for Japanese military authorities to maintain a high moral, among soldiers, and the most logical way to accomplish this has always been making provisions for the soldiers to be able to discharge sexually. In fact, the establishment of whorehouses near the front line has always been a conventional practice in European armies as well. The difference between European and Japanese wartime prostitution lies in the fact that Japanese comfort women were not being paid for the sexual favors they provided to soldiers. In its turn, this can be explained by the fact that Asian mentality traditionally considers women as inferior beings who do not even have a soul. The problem is when we suggest that sexual exploitation of comfort women in Japan represents a war crime, we resort to Western definition of what represents the essence of such crime, which can be hardly applicable in Japan. After all, isnt it a crime to force women to wear a long black cloak at all times and to chop their heads off in public, if they are being suspected of having sexual affair on the side, as it is a case in Saudi Arabia? Yet, this country is one of Americas best allies.
The reason why comfort womens testimonies only began to surface in recent years is because the majority of Japanese sex slaves were used to mens cruelty, ever since their early childhood, which prevented them from thinking about their sexual enslavement in Japan as something utterly horrible. In her article The Comfort Women Controversy: History and Testimony, Nozaki Yoshiko makes a very good point, while suggesting that demands for monetary compensation, on the part of former comfort women, do not have a legal validity: Japanese neo-nationalists, by focusing on minor details and contradictions, have effectively made (and kept) controversial both the womens testimonies and historians findings that draw both on testimonies and archival research. Progressive and feminist historians have fought back and won a number of empirical debates on the basis of expert knowledge, but neo-nationalists have succeeded in confusing public audiences, including many school teachers (Yoshiko).
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What adds to the problem is the fact that comfort womens struggle to have their suffering officially recognized is being strongly linked to feminism, as political movement. However, more and more people associate feminism with ideological inconsistency, which is why they have a hard time believing that former comfort women have a good reason to complain, in the first place. In fact, the issue of wartime sex slavery in Japan is being exploited by promoters of left-wing agenda in Western countries, simply to legitimize their claims that all men are sexists and chauvinists. It is very doubtful that such notorious individuals as Eve Ensler helps former comfort women a lot, by making their plight associated with psychological inadequateness of activists of lesbian and gay movements. It is very ironic that the reason why many people in Western countries were able to find out about the existence of comfort stations in Japan, during WW2, is because Ensler had decided to exploit this issue to increase her personal popularity.
She thinks of this as another proof that men are innerly wicked in general, without specifying the racial affiliation of sexual abusers. It is not a secret that majority of Chinese women, for example, dream of being able to marry a White man, simply because it would prevent them from being sexually and physically abused on daily basis, as it is the case with Chinese women married to Chinese men. Therefore, it is wrong to discuss the issue of comfort women outside of racial and cultural context, as feminists do. The fact is the physical and sexual abuse of women has always been an integral part of Asiatic cultural legacy. This is why former Japanese officials, who are being blamed with making provisions for the existence of sexual slavery in Japan, during WW2, often do not understand what they have done wrong. They simply cannot comprehend why White people insist that sexual activity must be based on the mutual willingness of sex partners to participate in such activity, in the first place. There can be no doubt that monologue Comfort Women in Eve Enslers play Vagina Monologues has a certain literary value.
... live through, searching for any source of hope and comfort, while women also took on large responsibilities for nothing in return. It ... resorted and depended on their family as a source of comfort and control. Slavery was a painful reality, which the African ... men and women wished to escape."Planters' records reveal how members of extended-kin groups provided support, assistance and comfort to each ...
However, the fact that this monologue is a part of the play, which glorifies psychological deviations, undermines this value, in the eyes of spectators. Ensler had simply positioned herself in the place of Japanese comfort woman and described her imaginary experience of being a sex slave in wartime Japan. Still, she failed to embrace Japanese mental identity, while doing this. Therefore, her monologue sounds as a story of womens suffering, retold by the person who has no clue as to what concept of suffering stands for. Just as any typical Liberal, Ensler is not really concerned about dealing with social or gender injustices she is simply making use of these issues to push her political agenda. The monologue Comfort Women is based on Enslers personal anxieties, which do not relate to what actually female sex slaves had experienced.
For example, she refers to living in warehouse with thousands of other women as one of the most terrifying things of all: A warehouse full of tears. Thousands of worried girls (Ensler).
Such thought, of course, would never occur to Chinese or Malaysian woman, because being in crowded place is exactly what would relieve her psychologically. In addition, comfort women were never quartered in warehouses this is something Ensler should know, especially given the fact that she claims herself being an expert on this issue. In the second part of this paper, we will discuss the performance choices that would be the most applicable, during the course of staging Comfort Women. (2) Before we come up with guidelines for staging Comfort Women monologue, let us establish an ideological premise, which corresponds to the essence of monologue, as ….
... how that is helping unfortunate women." Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues is uncomfortable. But the ... Ensler went beyond all boundaries. She spoke with "older women, young women, married women, single women, lesbians... actors, corporate officials... African American women, Hispanic women, Native American women ... 16 Jan. 2003, sec A: 4. Ensler, Eve. The Vagina Monologues. New York: Random House, Inc. ...