Friday, July 20, 2007

"Me and an Owl"

Boston University's Women Studies Program presented “Me and an Owl", a new documentary about the United States military and camp-town women in the Republic of Korea, on 22 March 2007. In this provocative documentary, camp-town women have agreed to allow their faces to be exposed. Since the end of World War II, the US has maintained a sprawling network of military bases in Asia. In conjunction with Japan and the Philippines, South Korea has occupied an axial position in the US military’s global strategy- initially against communist forces and now against terrorist forces and other unidentified threats. Two thirds of the US military overseas bases are still concentrated in Germany, Japan and South Korea. This development has grave and far-reaching implications for the lives of tens of millions of people in various host countries in terms of employment, family, gender relations and sexuality, human rights and environmental security. (Source: WSP Flyer)

The documentary is based on camp-town women’s interviews. They openly discuss the challenges they have encountered as impoverished women. As an attempt for survival the women have become workers in the sex industry which caters to the international forces that have bases in South Korea. Many of the women interviewed feel as if they are invisible or not treated as human beings because of their position. However, in most cases the sex industry is the women’s only available profession. Gabriel Maeck, a junior at Boston University says, “To make money as a prostitute is a choice a woman can make; however, many times it is not a choice and these women are abused by their own society and their johns.”

He then notes that My Sister’s Place is a non-governmental organization in South Korea featured in “Me and the Owl.” This organization is offering the women in the film and the many like them a voice, skills and solidarity. Organizations like this will enable women to take control of their own self. If women are educated about their choices and are given an alternative way of life – they will be able to extinguish the link of impoverishment and the sex industry.

Jodi Slezak, a junior at Boston University and a student in the Gender and International Development class, found the movie very insightful. She says, "One of the most valuable points of the movie was the way the characters were developed realistically. The film developed the lives and thoughts of these women, in order to allow the audience to sympathize and understand them as real people. In a remarkable way the film makers found a way to allow anyone, even middle class Americans, to relate to the experiences of these women.”