WARNING: I DISCUSS TOPICS ABOUT SEX TRAFFICKING/PROSTITUTION SO PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS TOPIC.
When I was reading Medical Apartheid, an unfortunate truth was revealed to me in Chapter 11. Although I was aware that many African American children were taken advantage of in a multitude of medical experimentations, it didn’t make it any easier to accept the fact that infants were involved as well. Many were subjected to spinal taps that would affect the development of their adult bodies for the rest of their lives. I love children so reading this chapter was tough for me to know that those kids didn’t even have a chance to live a normal life simply due to the fact that they were born at the wrong place and time.
This made me wonder, the doctors experimented on infants who had loving and caring parents. However, if the doctors’ own children were subjected to the same treatment, would they have subjected their own children to something so blatantly dangerous? It reminded me of a documentary I had watched with a few friends earlier this year on the unfortunate prevalence of sex trafficking and prostitution in Korea. This taboo topic is avoided in conversation in Korea and is neglected in being addressed due to the country’s obsession of presenting the respectful front that they are known for. Although I love my country, it was heartbreaking and maddening to see how the documentary reveals the stubborn nature of Koreans who refuse to acknowledge that the sex industry exists in the country. There was a moment where the interviewers asked several men about what they thought about the women who were involved in sex trafficking. There was a unanimous assumption that these women got involved because they “wanted to” or because they were “asking for it” and named prostitution as a “necessary evil.” The interviewers proceeded with a follow up question about how they would feel if their own daughters (or future daughters in the case of younger men) were to be involved in such an industry; here we see their refusal to see the prevalence of the issue as there was a unanimous voice that stated their daughters would never be associated with something so degrading.
With this, there seems to be a common pattern of people distancing themselves from what others encounter from possibly happening to them or those within their vicinity. It made me wonder where this disconnect comes from. From what I see, I feel that this may come from the comfort of dominance. As Professor McCoy mentioned in class not too long, the doctors during this time period were most likely a majority white and male, a combination of the two most dominant populations of the time. Similarly, Korean men are placed on a pedestal due to the culture being rooted in a patriarchal society. In both positions, both American and Korean dominant populations seem to feel shielded from the consequences of their actions of experimenting on infants or supporting sex trafficking which allows them to continue taking part in such actions. My question that sprouts from this conversation is this: how could we change these individual’s perspectives to see the consequences of experimentation and prostitution? How could we show that the experimental subjects and women that they sleep with also have families and friends who love and care for them? What prevents them from seeing the possible physical, emotional, and mental scars these victims could carry for the rest of their lives? Does this problem lie simply with the lack of consent of getting involved with experimentation/prostitution or is there a deeper problem that must be addressed?
I would really like to hear other’s opinions/thoughts on the overlap between these two subjects.