In today’s Quickies, Amanda posted a BBC article about Japan forcing women to serve “comfort” roles for Japanese soldiers during WWII.
It’s sick. And the Mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, is unapologetic about it, describing “comfort women” as a necessary need for soldiers.
At first I was shocked and horrified. How can you promote and justify sending women on a tour of duty that involves doing nothing but being raped for several years? I’m still horrified, but the more I think about it, I’m maybe less shocked.
We’re talking about war and a government who demands every single one of its male citizens is forced to serve in that war. They are merely bodies. Their job is to kill and be killed and are easily replacable. They are not individual men, but sacrificial game pieces. As long as men can be churned out as fast as they’re killed off, their country still has a chance to win the war. And men will be sent to die as long as they were born male. Hopefully you’ll live, but even if you do, you’re probably not coming out undamaged, un-scarred, and without having seen great horrors. But it doesn’t matter, you don’t matter. People don’t matter. The only thing that matters is having a large arsenal of usable bodies. In this context, is it surprising that women are also treated as disposable objects? Sent to serve a job without even a nod to their humanity?
I suppose the women being sent is, in a way, a nod to the men’s humanity, an understanding that these men have at least one need. But even in that nod, the men are reduced to primal beings.
But then, Japanese women were not the ones sent to be military sex-slaves. It was women from Japanese territories. Because it’s a horrible “job” and an indecent thing to force someone to do, so Japan wouldn’t send their own women; they sent the lesser ones. So maybe that is a nod to the humanity of women, while utterly disregarding it, which is perhaps worse than no nod at all.
And maybe it’s telling that we look at these war-time crimes against women as horrific, but are desensitized to the plight of men who are forced to fight in wars.
It’s not really a discussion of “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ!” as much as me just wondering what it is that shocks us about war. Why is it that we kind of accept a certain extremely-high level of incomprehensible horror, but then are shocked and horrified when we find out that other horrors exist within that reality. Like that we accept sometimes we have to kill civilians as collateral damage, destroy homes and families and local economies… but “enhanced interrogation” is too far. Because that particular horror is against the rules (actual rules and our rules of “decent war”.)
So I guess my question is, where do we draw these lines? How do we decide that “comfort women” is breathtaking and shocking in its lack of humanity but war itself is not surprising? Is “comfort women” a thing that is worse than mandatory military service? How? Why? Or is it all equally awful and it’s just that we’re shocked when we are exposed to the details of it all?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.
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