Japan at the end of World War II was awash with the semen of the conquering and raping heros of the Allied Forces. And what happened was what always happens during wars.
VETERANS' DAY makes me uneasy. I wander from room to room, careful to touch each wall with my fingertips; if I do not complete this ritual, I become too jumpy to sit still. Years after I developed this strange rite, I discovered it was called an obsessive compulsive disorder. The final act of the rite is a visit to the closet, where I angle myself into the corner and place my forehead against the wall. It feels cool and soothing. In this corner, I am safe, at least for a few minutes.
Veterans' Day makes me jumpy because of Phantom Rape Pain. On this holiday, I hurt between my legs from ghost thrusts. A long time ago, when I worked as a prostitute, I was sometimes raped 20 or 30 times a weekend by soldiers. Since the U.S. military is never going to give me a Prostitute Star of Honor, I have to commemorate this part of my life in my own way on this day. Last year, it was by writing an article called "Flags of Our Raped Mothers." I decided that to write something every year would be my commemoration, a way to honor myself. Yesterday, I was in a used book store and my hand accidentally fell on a dusty, moth-eaten, mottled, out-of-print volume. I was going to pass it by, but some phantom force of phantom rape pulled me to it.
I bought the book. It is called Time of Fallen Blossoms by Allan Clifton and re-counts the author's tour of duty as an Australian soldier in Japan in 1946. The Australians call their military celebration of soldiers Remembrance Day, and, as in the U.S., they don't honor the women that their men raped and prostituted. Apparently, the behavior of Australian soldiers in occupied Japan was as savage, if not more so, than that of the American GI's. Clifton describes standing beside a bed in a hospital: "On it lay a girl, unconscious, her long, black hair in a wild tumult on the pillow.… An hour before she had been raped by 20 soldiers. We found her where they had left her, on a piece of waste-land….The soldiers were Australians."
At first, Clifton tries to explain this away as the act of a few aberrant barbarians. But then, when he finds it is a regular occurrence, he can't.
Clifton's Fallen Blossoms is, in part, a fascinating portrait of a man struggling with what to make of the prostituted/raped Japanese women who were the sexual prey of allied forces after WWII. At the Naval Headquarters where he is first billeted, he notices the street girls coming into the barracks at night, to share the bunks of the American GI's. Clifton writes: "Creaking beds and rhythmic movements made the night eloquent, as Japanese girls made the sacrifice, though with no great reluctance, to their country's conquerors."
Clifton seems to be intelligent and compassionate. If so, then I wonder how could he interpret lack of reluctance to hungry girls forced to lay down and withstand rape, night after night, from these terrifying, strange soldiers? I sometimes wonder if the only way to educate men about this horror it to have them raped as many times as the prostitute is violated — thousands of times during the few years she is able to survive this rough, unbearable life — if even that long.
Was the night 'eloquent' for the girls as the rhythmic thrust of rape killed them? I suppose you could see the girls as part of the Universal Rape Mechanism of War — a mechanism so common and necessary that the Rhythm of Rape controls Rape Planet Earth with 'eloquent' movements that imprison and define what a women is for, sexually, with brutal dominance. Clifton certainly has no insight, in this passage, as to what is means to be a woman in constant rape pain — which is what the prostitute is.
His picture of six-foot Australian GI's, reeling and drunk and rough, terrifies me. What if they had used me the way they did these poor Japanese prostitutes? But then I see every man I meet in terms of a customer, and my days are spent saying gratefully to myself, "I am so glad I am not a whore anymore — I am so glad I don't have to have sex with that!"
After the 'eloquent' rape of the girls in the barracks, Clifton notices the street whores huddling around the sentries' braziers for warmth at night. Having learned what he terms the "lists of love" from the American GI's, these pathetic girls, he thinks, are now all eager to lay down with their Australian conquerors: "Outside the flickering circle of the braziers' glow stood several disused refrigerating chambers, the floors spread with matting left by destitutes from Hiroshima. These became the scenes of the final consummation of love, and, like army latrines, were occupied and used by numerous people at the same time. The girls were a pretty, grubby dubious lot, as was to be expected. Camp followers are the same the world over. Nearly all were venereal disease hosts, a matter of supreme indifference to the soldiers."
That Clifton could even jokingly use the word "love" for this encounter is such a desecration of the pain of these girls. They were homeless and starving. Does he not see this as the reason for them being 'grubby'? And what pain too deep for tears they must have felt on these filthy mats with these rough, ugly men on top of them, one after the other. Until they became too numb to feel. It is the only escape — shock, numbness. When I was a prostitute, my body was in another place as I was being raped since it was the only way to keep insanity from taking over.
Next comes Clifton's struggle: "I could never bring myself to condemn these girls, whose immediate past experience could hardly have been conducive to observation of the niceties of the moral code." So, inside himself, somewhere where he will not admit it, he actually recognizes that this is starvation forced rape misery for these girls? Yet, he next calls the rape of these desperate prostitutes as "wandering down pleasant byways" for the GI's. He does not once seem to realize that the Australian GI's are the ones to blame. Their 'moral' behavior is at the lowest level of cruelty and abomination if they will force sex on starving girls. There is another way — a quite simple way — one which the American GI's could have followed as well: give the girls food, protect them, set up shelters for them. Not one WWII soldier, in any way, can be pardoned if he forced a girl to have sex for food. And almost all of them did. So these men are all unpardoned, moral abominations.
Clifton's cruel phrasing continues as he calls the sex act forced on these girls "worship at Eros's inner shrines." Interesting in light of the fact that he has just likened the girls to latrines. And admitted that occupation of these portable toilets was 'numerous.'
One Australian lieutenant, he writes jokingly, "carried out his duties that night in a manner befitting an officer, if not a gentleman." To joke about intolerable pain is dreadful. The 'duty of war' is the duty to rape a woman turned into a toilet for common use? It is ugly, but it is the reality of war — an abomination and a cruelty ignored by everyone except the girl who is the toilet.
Clifton's sanitizes his own particular encounter with a 'fallen blossom.' His whore of choice is not a dirty-latrine camp follower. Instead, she is a prostitute attached to a hotel and he says she can choose her own 'companions.' Of the tryst, he says, "This was so far removed from the sordid squalor, the simulated passion, and the demand for payment… associated with the oldest profession… that no effort of mind could remotely relate the two."
Hum. Ho. Wow! He imagines the girl as an independent prostitute who has choice — in order to justify his actions — as if to separate himself from the men who climb on the diseased latrines. Yet later he describes all these 'hotels' turned into brothels for the occupying soldiers as places where the owners beat the girls and hold them in debt bondage, taking 80% of their earnings. From what I have read, this was typical. And Clifton calls the owners 'evil,' not once recognizing that this whole 'evil' system is the fault of customer demand: whether it be military or civilian rape of prostituted bodies, it is the male who demands sex without restraint; sex upon a subordinated, helpless being; sex without care or tenderness; sex without responsibility to the woman, or to the child he rapes into her body — it is this male who is to 'blame.' Big Time. All those GI's of all nationalities in Japan who were the 'buyers' created this misery. You can't condemn the men who sell the bodies if you are the purchasers of these enslaved girls. The GI's were the biggest evil of all.
Clifton also excuses himself and the other soldiers by falling back on the old lie: prostitution has been an honored profession in Japan for centuries. Simply not so. For all those centuries of 'licensed' sexual slavery, the whore was, typically, a poor rural girl sold by destitute parents. At the edges of red-light districts were signs: "Sell your daughters here." The girl was broken through being caged and raped continuously in order to make her 'bestial' enough to take the bestiality of many men in a row. In other words, she had to be numbed to the point where she did not care what men did to her — or how many used her. Foreign sailors who used the whores described them as looking like dogs in kennels.
I guess the Australian and American GI's took care of this breaking in process in 1945 and 1946, and thereafter — since the typical whore for these soldiers was at first a destitute virgin who was coerced into prostitution and then raped an average of 15 times a day in her kennel/brothel. I can attest from the misery of my own body, that the only way to withstand this is to become as numb as a stone.
The Japanese prostitute is certainly not honored in any way. She is as scorned and outcast as her counterpart in every other country. She is particularly abhorred by the decent, modest, 'good' girls of Japan. These girls saw the whores given to the conquerors as a necessary barrier. The 'respectable' girls couldn't have all those gallons of semen washing up against their dainty pure ankles. Had to have a seawall for the seamen and their semen.
Clifton, by the way, is careful to distinguish between these gentle sweet wholesome Japanese girl-next-door types and the ones who are 'latrines.' He does not seem to see that the girl lying on her rape bed in the hospital, tossing in fever and torment, may be destined for whoredom. About a quarter of the occupation whores had once been good girls who were gang raped and then saw themselves as fit for only more rape, so they became whores. The other three quarters of the whores were starving — so they didn't have to be raped into it.
Clifton seems in constant conflict throughout this book as he tries to reconcile the male need for whores with the exploitation of the women labeled whores. At one point he writes: "In the immediate post-war period in Japan, because of economic hardship and starvation, young and physically desirable women offered themselves on street corners or railway stations in exchange for almost anything that was edible or capable of conversion into food." This same man says these girls have "tasted of the white man's exotic fruits," as if the rape of their body by thousands of strangers were simply all mocking fun and games.
Overall, he seems like a good man, not willfully cruel or brutal. Yet he says these unimaginably brutal things about bodies raped and raped and raped over and over by his own soldiers. I don't think that this man knows what to make of the pain of the whore, so he has to pretend it does not exist.
One of his friends marries a Japanese girl, then the friend is killed, and the girl is raped by a group of drunken Australians. She contemplates suicide. Clifton loses track of her. Does he realize that she, this formerly 'clean' blossom, might now become a latrine, because of feelings of worthlessness? Let's hope she killed herself first. Prostitution is too slow a death. It involves insanity from too much rape — if the diseases don't get to you first.
About the diseases, Clifton sees the girls as the source of the 'poison' — not recognizing that most were virgins when forced into prostitution, so they could not have been the carriers of infection. The soldiers were.
Clifton, also, interestingly, says that rapes of 'good' girls could not be prosecuted since it was assumed that she was offering herself for the chocolate bars. He calls these rapes 'numerous' — an affirmation of my contention that placing 'bad' girls in 'rape prisons' called brothels for soldiers will not protect the 'good' girls outside the raping grounds. So the semen wall against the seaman does not work.
Clifton's confusion and sexual conflict continue throughout the book. He has to maintain the good girl/bad girl paradigm, no matter what. Of 'romantic negotiations,' he writes: "With the professional ladies, money, gifts, and gesture overcame all language barriers, but the shy and virtuous ones had to be courted carefully and under great difficulties."
What is the difference between the virtue of the good Japanese girl being so carefully courted and the raped latrines available to all? Not much. Just get those 20 Australian soldiers to do a job on one of these virtuous girls and she will join the company of the toilets, just waiting for occupation by numerous males needing a semen dump.
This connection is one that it seems almost impossible for Clifton to make. Even though he sees orphaned girls in the streets, he seems to not understand that they will become the 'pom pom' girls he sees on the street corners — "amateur prostitutes who exchanged the dubious and dangerous pleasures of their bodies for anything of value."
What on earth is an 'amateur prostitute'? and how is she distinguished from a professional? Is it the number of times she is raped? After violation 5000 or so, do we up her into the next rank? Is this her hard training that will turn her from amateur to professional?
Clifton mentions the way many 'good' girls were screened for VD and how affronted their 'personal honor' was by this process. He also says that "any soldier's female companion was suspected of being a 'carrier.' Many an innocent was gathered into the net, but this was inevitable, and some of us learned to meet our respectable women in more secluded rendezvous."
What constitutes 'innocence' and 'respectability' under these circumstances? Going with the conqueror as a 'girlfriend' still means sex for food. It still means chocolate bars. I am reminded of how Vietnam vets told me about their Vietnamese 'girlfriends.' "She wasn't a whore. She really wanted to be with me." I always asked if the girl was hungry and if he gave her food and money. There can be no 'boyfriend/girlfriend' if the male has food and the woman has none.
No difference between men? So Clifton asserts — that the Japanese whores could tell no difference among the conquerors and so felt no revulsion. This is far from the truth: revulsion is extreme when a lot of men force themselves inside, where a woman is private and tender and where pain is at its most intense. Only turning to stone and leaving your body behind, on the bed, works. I huddled in the corner, and held myself for comfort and felt very cold with shivering, while the other me was on the bed was being raped.
The most disturbing line in Clifton's book is this: "With fifteen clients a night, and nothing to do all day, it was too good to be true." On the same page is his conclusion that starvation, economic hardship, and desperation are what drove almost all these girls into prostitution. That and of course being coerced and controlled by pimps — Japanese men heavily sold their own women to the conquerors. Not surprising since these men are so comfortable in a culture of rape. Their own system of military sexual slavery, instituted from the early 1930's until 1945, was one of the most brutal ever devised; and the current $30 billion sex industry in that country thrives because of the patronage of Japanese men: rape of the prostituted body is simply accepted — a norm inherited from their brutal and sexually vicious WWII fathers and grandfathers.
Reading Fallen Blossoms was full of deep sorrow for me. When I am in the realm of Caucasian men, my men, I want them to be different. I don't want them to be the horrible rapists that the Japanese were. It particularly saddens me that this good man, Allan Clifton, puts up so many screens against the horror of the prostituted life. If even a kind man like he cannot understand, then how much less chance will there be with the brutal ones of the world.
Clifton knows that these enslaved girls bodies are violated 15 times a night. This man, who in many ways is kind and intelligent, does not seem to have even the remotest idea of what rape all night, every night, does to a woman.
I can tell you that it leaves behind a woman who never heals. Even though I left prostitution many years ago, I am still in it. "This is hell, nor am I out of it." No matter how many books I write, or how many Ph.D.'s I acquire, or how many allusions I make to plays of the past, I am always a whore. I know that if the people around me knew of my own past, they would spit on me. So I have to walk around everyday as if I were not me — as if I were not a whore body that had been underneath so many men. I also know that it is other women who are way more to blame for my 'shame,' if you want to call it that, than the men who raped me. The men made me bleed physically. These women make me bleed from a wound that I can't find a way to stop.
Far more cruel, to my mind, than the Australian and American Rapist Conquerors were the Japanese women themselves who scorned their sisters as whores. And far more cruel, to me, are all the American women who, in all wars, have ignored the conquered women their men have raped. Either because they do not want to know that the brother or husband or son who comes home has been inside a whore (or sex slave — term her what you will) or because the American woman simply does not care. Her indifference creates me, the whore. And my presence means she will never be safe or have any dignity — because I can have none. As long as one woman is deemed nothing more than a whore to filled up by men who rape her into pain and deadness, then all women are this whore. In their blindness, the 'decent' women of the world don't know this. I guess this is their protection from the truth.
Copyright © 2007 Suki