HIEA 115 Week 9
What are the benefits to Soh’s choice to not use the language of ‘sexual slavery’ to describe the “comfort women” and use instead, ‘public sex’ performed largely by impoverished women within a system of structural violence that surpassed the era of colonial Japanese rule? What are some of the drawbacks/possible risks to this approach? Why do you think she insists on it nonetheless? What do you think Soh would think of the memorial in Glendale — in particular, its representation of the “comfort women” as a young woman? In your opinion (turning away from Soh), what do you think is important to keep in mind in thinking about acts of commemoration in the aftermath of such a severe, mass, and state-directed violence against women? Should memorializing be separate from the act of grieving?
Soh rejects to use the word “sexual slavery” to describe the “comfort women” and uses “public sex” instead due several reasons, like not all comfort women were forced to provide sex services. One of the benefits of this word choice is that this gives people a better chance to study and reflect this part of history in a more comprehensive way. “Sexual slavery” gives people a preconceived negative feeling toward comfort women and this system. This negative feeling may mislead people to have an idea that all comfort women were forced to be provide sex services. They all had been through horrible situations. However, as Soh mentions in her work, there were many comfort women who were not forced to provide sex services. They became comfort women sort of voluntarily. It is impossible if we just define them as sexual slaves. Therefore, by using the word “public sex” instead of “sexual slavery” can give people a better chance to understand this part of history in a more comprehensive way.
One prominent drawback is that “public sex” is a really soft word. It can give people a feeling that this is a peaceful part of history. It may eliminate the horrible, cruel, dark experience which is full of violence that comfort women had. People may neglect the severity and importance of this part of history. They may neglect to reflect on this history.
I think she would support the memorial in Glendale since it narrates the history and stories of comfort women in a humane and kind way. However, it is questionable that it depicts comfort women as a young woman. This representation of comfort women cannot stand for all since it misses many comfort women who were not young lady.
I do not believe that we should put memorizing and grieving together or separate them totally. Grieving is a natural feeling people have when they memorizing, but not all memorizing can cause this kind of feeling. Therefore, we should not separate memorizing from an act of grieving.