‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the starvation prostitution forced upon tens of thousands of European and Japanese girls (some barely into their teens) by the ridiculous conflicts men create to display their phallic brutality. It is also the brothel attached to a military base in Arizona stocked with ‘worn-out whores’ and reserved exclusively for black solders, so that the white GI’s would not have to ‘contaminate’ their penises by raping the same prostitutes. Thousands of black GI’s passed through this brothel daily, and who knows what insane, pathetic creatures they left dead of rape and misery.‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is not your blind, masculine-centric vision of it, full of all these lies about valor and sacrifice and courage and nobility. There is little that is noble about the raping, war-making brute we call a soldier. — Dr. Suki Falconberg
The powerful video above begins, “I was not a human being.”
I’ve been following Ken Burns’ PBS special on World War II, The War: An Intimate History. * There is much I have to say about this series. At the moment, though, I just want to publish the following letter. I’ve been continually thinking as I watched that if at least one of the nine segments did not pertain to the the Comfort Women, so-called, which I have blogged about here, here, and here, I would never forgive Burns and would certainly never take his work seriously again.
Which means I am never going to forgive Ken Burns or take his work seriously again. Because I am not seeing any photos like the photo above, of enslaved young girls, surrounded by their smiling captors.
Where are scenes like this one, above, depicting women who had been tricked into thinking they had obtained jobs in a garment factory. They were assembled and photographed as though they were new”employees,” then were kidnapped and loaded into wagons, like so much livestock and taken to “Comfort Stations” where they were enslaved, prostituted, and raped by soldiers, including American GIs.
Why doesn’t Burns include interviews with, and footage of, women who had become pregnant via these rapes, like these “Comfort Women,” again guarded by a smiling soldier? These photos of degraded, brutalized women together with their smiling captors are macabre.
Where are the interviews with former Comfort Women who are activists, who, like the women in the bottom photo, have been demonstrating before the Japanese Embassy every Wednesday for the past 13 years, demanding justice? Why were they not consulted for this “documentary”?
Why does Burns participate in the erasure of their lives and the crimes against humanity that they suffered?
The language and cadence of the title of Burns’ “documentary” bear a striking resemblance to the title of Natalie Angier’s groundbreaking feminist book, Woman: An Intimate Geography suggesting Burns has some familiarity with the book, which makes the omission of the enslaving of the “Comfort Women” dark, scary, inexcusable, misogynist.
“A Letter to Ken Burns about The War: An Intimate History”
By Dr. Suki Falconberg
‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the Yokosuka rape queues in August 1945, with GI’s lined up for blocks, two abreast, to get at the Japanese girls enslaved in ‘comfort stations’ for them—with the full cooperation of the American and Japanese authorities. Destitute, vulnerable girls were raped into unconsciousness as the men joked and laughed and jostled in line, waiting their turn. Some girls bled to death. Some committed suicide—that is, the lucky ones who could escape. Not one ‘comfort girl’ has told her story—due to shame. Why did you not tell this particular ‘intimate history’ of ‘The War,’ Mr. Burns? Especially since ‘usage’ of the girls was almost 100%. Why has the small detail that almost every GI in Japan, 1945, was a rapist escaped you? Why his this big ‘dirty secret’ of war never been covered?
‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the men who lined up to use the prostitutes on Hotel Street in Honolulu: women were raped 100 times a day—a different man entered the girl every three minutes. Why should I mourn these rapists when they were killed in the attack at Pearl Harbor? They slaughtered the bodies of these women in a fashion far more brutal than any bombing could ever be.
‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the widespread rape of French girls by GI’s after they ‘liberated’ Paris. Rape by American soldiers was so common that Eisenhower actually had to acknowledge it was happening, although he did nothing to stop it.
‘The War’ is the public parks in Palermo, where pimps considerately laid out mattresses so the GI’s could fuck starving Italian girls comfortably, for a dollar or two a turn.
‘The War’ is homeless, prostituted girls in Berlin doing it in the rubble for a few cents and agreeing to ‘share’ a GI bed so they would simply have a place to sleep that night. This, after they had already had the insides raped out of them by the invading Russian army and then were labeled ‘whores’ since it was a convenient way for the authorities to deal with these ‘ruined’ women.
The War’ is the village in Okinawa where GI’s raped every woman, girl, and child—the victims were too sick and starving to even try to run from their attackers.
‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the starvation prostitution forced upon tens of thousands of European and Japanese girls (some barely into their teens) by the ridiculous conflicts men create to display their phallic brutality. It is also the brothel attached to a military base in Arizona stocked with ‘worn-out whores’ and reserved exclusively for black solders, so that the white GI’s would not have to ‘contaminate’ their penises by raping the same prostitutes. Thousands of black GI’s passed through this brothel daily, and who knows what insane, pathetic creatures they left dead of rape and misery.
‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is not your blind, masculine-centric vision of it, full of all these lies about valor and sacrifice and courage and nobility. There is little that is noble about the raping, war-making brute we call a soldier.
I was raped and prostituted by the U.S. Military. Why don’t you tell my story, Mr. Burns? It is far more ‘colorful’ than that of these soldiers who raped their way through Europe and Asia Don’t you want to know what it’s like to be mounted by a line of soldiers? It is a hell beyond any possible imagining. It has happened to me.
My PTSD, as it is so fashionably called, is far more intense than that of the men who raped the life and dignity and beauty out of me. The emotional damage to the soldier does not compare to the suffering he inflicts on the women he ravages.
War is never good for women. War sexually enslaves women. Men gain by war. They have the pleasure of rape: they mount starving women, ‘cheap whores,’ and take their pleasure, and the woman is silenced forever by her shame.
What a male abomination is not just your grandiose seven-part, tidy version of ‘The War,’ but PBS as well. You pretend to be enlightened but you are as blind and callous and cruel as the soldier rapists who destroyed the lives and bodies of so many women.
I looked at your so-called ‘companion volume’ to the series. The index carries not one reference to rape, prostitution, military brothels, or the sexual suffering of millions of woman. How can you overlook, ignore, dismiss a ‘fact’ so enormous? As if these women simply never existed.
What a betrayal of our raped bodies is your grand, masculine-centric version of ‘The War.’ Even your title indicates that you own this territory, this war, your war. It is, indeed, your war—since all wars are the product of your male phallic cruelty.
War never ‘liberates’ women. War sexually destroys us. It has never been otherwise. Briseis had no say in her fate as a ‘captive’ woman. No one asked her what she thought of the arrangement. No one has asked the Filipina women trafficked onto the fifty U.S. bases in Iraq what they think of their lot as the GI’s line up for their five-minute shot inside them.
Men make war because they love war. Don’t ask me to feel sorry for the way they ‘suffer.’
Dr. Suki Falconberg, Rape/Prostitution Survivor