Sunday, June 24, 2007

Comfort women: on the term "sex slave"

I personally do not care what to call "comfort women" under Japanese rule and under the US occupation in Japan and Korea and under Korean rule after the "liberation".
But here is an interesting discussion on whether it is appropriate to call such women as "sex slave"
>When describing women forcibly confined for the purposes of sexual
>exploitation, why would the terms "slavery" or "sex slaves" be inappropriate?

Assuming that the Atlantic slave trade is the type of slavery most English
speakers will be at least dimly aware of , AND this is what writers who use
the term slavery or sex slaves are trying to link the Japanese case to, the
reasons for not applying the term slavery to either the comfort women or to
forced laborers include

1) not permanent

2) not heritable

3) not race based

4) no religious backing for the system

5) no asset value

6) no market based trading

7) no civil legal or institutional structure to return and/or penalize
those who left

8) wages promised, and at least in the early stages, actually paid.

9) gender specific

10) social mobility (it is known that some women moved from labor to
management and became brothel operators)

And, many other lesser points.

There are, of course, many definitions of slavery. The one I'm using is
chattel slavery. This is the form of slavery that Americans >should< know
something about. And, it is presumably the form of slavery with which the
term slavery in the Pacific War context is meant to resonate. Other types
of slavery have existed or continue to exist, but I rather doubt that many
readers of the US newspapers that have prominently carried articles about
the "sex slaves" are familiar with, for example, slavery in Arab cultures.

I am further presuming that when people use the term "sex slaves," they are
not trying to link the comfort women to sadomasochistic practices where the
term is part of the standard vocabulary. (Assuming you have your Net Nanny
turned off, you can verify this for yourself by doing a search on -"comfort
women" +"sex slaves" +porn).

Having given a number of reasons for not using the term, allow me to ask
why it should be used. What's wrong with forced labor? Is there a good,
non-racist, non-ethnocentric reason for using an exceedingly vague and
highly inflammatory term in this context?Earl Kinmonth /NBR'S JAPAN FORUM (POL

via ステージ風発

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