Sexual humiliation by the Japanese Army in WWII
July 5, 2006 10:01 PM   Subscribe

How did the Japanese force unwilling Chinese men to rape their own family members?

Was actual intercourse involved, or has history been exagerated? Stories about the Rape of Nanking always include this detail:
Japanese troops forced families to commit acts of incest: sons were forced to rape their mothers, fathers were forced to rape daughters. Monks who had declared a life of celibacy were forced to rape women for the amusement of the Japanese. Instances of Chinese men being forced to commit sex with corpses were not unheard of.
- source: Wikipedia

So how did this work, actually? If enemy soldiers insisted that I have sex with them watching, I certainly wouldn't be able to comply, 'specially with my mother.
posted by Rash to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have always assumed that a) some of the men involved were able to force themselves to comply when faced with the threat of being killed, and/or having to see their loved ones killed, and b) that those who couldn't produce an erection would just be forced to mime the act of sex.

But I wasn't there, so I couldn't tell you for certain.
posted by bookish at 10:11 PM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

I recall in the movie Kundun, when the Chinese invaded Tibet, there was a scene where monks were being forced to rape women (really, they were both being raped by the soldiers just by proxy) and there was literally a gun shoved against the man's head, the soldier on the other end shouting maniacly like he might pull the trigger at any moment. Not a scene easy to forget. I'm guessing something like that.
posted by blueberry at 11:36 PM on July 5, 2006

I recall an episode of The West Wing, where they talked ominously about an incipient genocide in Africa, with the classic sign being how the men in the family would go live in their neighbor's houses. So when the bad guys came and made you rape your "wife," it would actually be your neighbor's wife and this would somehow be more palatable to all the victims. You know, when you all have guns to your head.

News from Kuhndu continues to come in. In a meeting Bartlet asks,
"What's the CIA know that I should know?"
"Neighbors are swappping family members."
After absorbing this and leaving the meeting, Bartlet stops at Leo's office and tells him, "Clark says neighbors are swapping family members in Kuhndu."
Then immediately afterwards when he meets with Josh, Bartlet says, "There's intelligence that Kuhndunese neighbors in the country are swapping family members."
"I'm sorry, I don't, I don't unders---"
"For the night, they're swapping family members, you know, and sleeping in each other's houses."
And a few minutes later when Josh and Charlie are watching news reports from Kuhndu, Josh passes on the information, "Intelligence says neighbors in Kuhndu are sleeping at each other's houses."
"What does that mean?" Charlie asks.
"It means they're making people in the same house rape each other on the promise that their lives will be spared."

posted by frogan at 12:08 AM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've heard fear can produce an erection sometimes.
posted by orange swan at 4:44 AM on July 6, 2006

Crazy, terrible, irrational things happen in times of war. There's no real accounting for a lot of it.

But one possible explanation is that, amazingly, this wasn't the worst thing the Japanese did. A threat of crucifixion might be enough to make incest the better option.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:10 AM on July 6, 2006

I certainly wouldn't be able to comply

Forced inter-family rapes were unnervingly common in Bosnia during the 1990s civil war. Never rule anything out during war.
posted by meehawl at 6:06 AM on July 6, 2006

Crazy, terrible, irrational things happen in times of war. There's no real accounting for a lot of it.


Never rule anything out during war.

I think the poster means that he physically wouldn't be able to comply (i.e., wouldn't be able to get an erection) -- not that he would be so morally opposed he would refuse to do it even with a gun to his head. I believe the question is how the men/boys were able to perform the actual physical act under such circumstances.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:14 AM on July 6, 2006

What sort of question is this? Here is the very obvious Google. It has happened a lot and as others have pointed out already, it's not a peculiarly Japanese practise. Are you saying that all these past victims are different to you? How do you know how you would react in the same circumstance?
posted by tellurian at 6:47 AM on July 6, 2006

From my reading of personal accounts of forced rape in Bosnia, and my discussions with several refugees, mere physiological plumbing seems to have been much less of an issue than one might expect. And in such cases, household objects or farm implements were usually used instead.
posted by meehawl at 6:51 AM on July 6, 2006

Experience suggests to me that penetration when soft is usually possible, and that the male genitalia will react to that sort of stimulation in some cases even under extreme duress or distraction. I have no idea if that's what happened here, but I know personally of cases in which women have raped men that way. And this was, of course, rape of the male victims as well as the female.
posted by Cricket at 8:23 AM on July 6, 2006

Sorry to tag on, but this makes me wonder: how did the soldiers make this request *clear*, exactly, if they didn't speak each other's language?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:46 AM on July 6, 2006

Exactly, pardonyou?, thanks for the clarification -- I'm wondering how anybody could get it up at gunpoint. I'd be so frightened my johnson would shrivel up and retract.
posted by Rash at 8:55 AM on July 6, 2006

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