Women for Genuine Security

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race, class, gender, nation

We share a framework that examines and analyses how inequalities of race, class, gender and nation shape daily life, all social institutions, government policies and laws. This framework requires us to look at all four categories – race, class, gender, nation—simultaneously and in an integrated way. This enables us to see complexities more clearly.  It helps us to see patterns, differences, and possible alliances.  This framework provides a more nuanced and multilayered understanding of what is really going on, which allows for the development of a more accurate and effective response or solution.  We see these systems of inequality as the cause of many insecurities. Working for peace and genuine security means we are also working for women’s liberation, an antiracist, multicultural society, and an end to economic exploitation and inequality between nations.

How does this race-class-gender-nation framework work?  (click on one to find out)

Take, for example, the situation of enlisted US servicemen who are deployed to South Korea, where the US has many bases and military facilities.  These men spend long, arduous days and weeks in military training.  In their free time they relax in the "G.I.Town bars" outside the bases where there are frequent reports of rowdy drunkenness, disrespect for Korean citizens, and violence committed by US troops, especially against bar women.

Click on one of these systems of inequality based on race-class-gender-nation to find out:

 “Race”: Examining this situation by race means discovering that

  • There is a higher percentage of African Americans and Latinos enlisting in military service.
  • African Americans and Latinos are more likely to come from poor neighborhoods where schools were underfunded and lagging far behind suburban schools.
  • Military recruiters often target young people of color and poor white youth with promises of training, status, adventure, and money for college. These youth might not have other options for work or college.
  • Korean society is much more homogeneous than the United States and many people have racist attitudes towards African Americans.  Women in bars who work with African Americans and Latinos often find them kinder than white service members who commit the worst crimes of violence against civilians.
  • Racism shapes how the US military perceives Asians, particularly Asian women who are seen as “exotic”, accommodating, and sexually compliant.
  • Racialized views of Asian women influence why the US military is complicit in military prostitution in South Korea, Okinawa, and the Philippines.
  • Mixed race children may be abandoned by their US military fathers, and face difficulties in South Korea and other Asian countries.

Class:  Examining this situation by class means discovering:

  • Working class and poor people are more likely to enlist in the US military and are targeted by military recruiters as they have more limited options for employment, job training, or money for college.
  • The women who work in the bars around US bases in Asian countries are poor women with few options to earn money.  This is likely their best option for work. Often the money they earn is sent home to their families to help pay bills, to support aging parents, and for their younger siblings' education.  
  • The entire “G.I. town” economy, including bar owners, managers, restaurateurs, security men, and pimps, make a living off women working in bars and clubs.
  • There are some class similarities between US troops and Asian women working in bars and clubs near US bases.

Gender:  Examining this situation in terms of gender means discovering:

  • In the past most of the women working in the bars and clubs near US bases were Korean.  They have grown up in a society with strong patriarchal attitudes and expectations about what it means to be a good daughter. Some were sexually abused as children or teens, which makes them "tainted" in a society that places high value of women's virginity.
  • Today, 80% of the women working in the bars are from the Philippines coming into South Korea on “Entertainment Visas.” They have trained as singers or dancers to get this visa and expect to work as singers or dancers in the clubs. Many of them have been misled, tricked, and trafficked into South Korea, not knowing the true nature of the work they have been hired to do. 
  • Some women in this situation hope to marry a US serviceman. If they do, they may be very dependent within the relationship.
  • US military culture fosters sexist attitudes toward women, as evident in how US servicewomen often face harassment and sexual violence from their peers and superiors.

Nation: Examining this situation in terms of nation means discovering:

  • The US government uses its dominance to persuade South Korean governments to support US policy, such as being allies in the so-called "war against terrorism".
  • A US soldier who might face discrimination at home for being a person of color, poor, or both receives high status, power and privilege as a member of the US military overseas.
  • The unequal relationship between the US and South Korea is reflected in the Status of Forces Agreement, a legal agreement that governs US military operations in South Korea. Crimes committed by US troops against South Korean civilians may go unreported, or if reported, may go unpunished.  The US uses the land without being legally responsible for cleaning up serious environmental contamination caused by military training and operations. 
  • The Philippines has a much weaker economy compared to that of South Korea or the United States.  Politically, the Philippines is a close US ally. This economic and political situation causes many Filipinos and Filipinas to travel outside the Philippines to earn a living so they can send money home for their families.
  • Filipinas who are brought to work in the bars in South Korea cannot leave their jobs without violating the terms of their visas and becoming “undocumented” immigrants in South Korea with no legal rights. They face fines for breaking the terms of their visas or for overstaying if caught by South Korean immigration officers.
  • US troops are sent to the frontlines of war for a national policy that is sometimes not even in their own interests.
  • Many people in the United States know very little about the presence of US bases in other countries and the host communities’ experiences of US troops’ bad behaviour
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