The concept of profiting off of women's bodies has been around since commerce began. Different cultures have built up different ideologies to justify this act, whether it's for spiritual purposes, economic hardship, privilege of the wealthy or just dominance over females in general. While prostitution for these reasons and more has existed throughout time and culture, a different form of sexual business exchange developed in Asia during the course of the mid-twentieth century. Comfort women, as they were called, originated around foreign military bases during wartime in places around Southeast Asia. The idea of a comfort woman was supposedly different from a prostitute; they were called on to provide a superficial relationship with soldiers, catering to the need of affection and service that a wife would provide, such as cleaning or boosting the ego. However, what actually occurred between customers and these women was quite different and usually traumatic. The result of comfort women during this time in Southeast Asia spawned an entire economy of female service-oriented business to foreigners in the postwar period that is still around today.
[...] The lifestyles of these women were based in night clubs where they were often given a loan in the beginning to pay for their expenses or to send back home. This started them off already in debt, therefore whatever money they made afterward was kept to pay this loan back. The women were given rooms with beds, stereos, and all types of appliances which made the room seem inviting to prospective clients, however they rarely got to stay there unless the client paid for a whole night. [...]
[...] In China, during the rape of Nanking from 1937-38, the damages of war and tragedies inflicted upon civilian women gave rise to many victims being forced to become comfort women (Chang 95). In Korea, the popularity of Japanese men using Korean women for sexual matters is, as Takahasi Kikue calls “subconscious feelings of sexual and racial superiority” (Kim 136). The social arrogance of these attitudes comes from justifying that the government needs the income that these women provide, and the women themselves are in need of the money as well. [...]
[...] Though the comfort women of Southeast Asia are an image which specifically targets the practice of sexual servitude during the wartime period of the twentieth century, the ideas behind this practice goes back over a thousand years. A woman in a culture which deems her only importance to be chaste, submissive and family-oriented left only the polar extreme: the prostitute. Government exploitation of these women, who were likely to come from poverty stricken towns, has been customized to fit whatever political [...]
[...] “Increasingly, Koreans view the history of prostitution and the contemporary forms of sex tourism in Korea as manifestations of foreign domination over their country” (Moon 47). But the situation that places like Korea are in now is very much like the one comfort women during the inter-war periods were in: the double bind. Using female sexuality and servitude for economic growth will only keep these racist attitudes of domination going, since that power exchange is the ultimate appeal of Southeast Asian women. However, it is the economic growth that these countries want in order to become equal with the rest of the world. [...]
[...] It would be a dream for this situation to end in the marriage between soldier and comfort woman, where he then took her back home to his native country, but that was hardly the case. What did happen was a tremendous increase in bastard children of mixed nationalities, which led to a rise of social prejudice within the countries. The horrors and abuse in which these women had to endure during their time in clubs and brothels was a system of perpetual slavery, designed to keep them working without the possibility of retiring. [...]
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