Advertisement

Muckraking and stories untold: Ethnography meets journalism on trafficked women and the U.S. military

  • Sealing ChengEmail author
Special Issue Article

Abstract

Investigative journalism using visual media has become a dominant mode of knowledge production both in popular understanding of human trafficking and in policymaking. A 2002 Fox I-team report exposed the U.S. military in Korea as being actively involved in a transnational network of trafficking women into sexual slavery. The report circulated in policymaking arenas as evidence of the need to combat trafficking and prostitution via global U.S. initiatives. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork from exactly the same U.S. military camp towns in South Korea, this article raises questions about investigative journalism and its truth power. The author also seeks to illuminate how news reports may decontextualize and make ahistorical generalizations about sex work and women’s migration, especially in the larger context of the revival of a global panic about human trafficking. The fundamental question the author raises is, What stories are untold in this genre of media representations preoccupied with sex trafficking?

Key words

trafficking prostitution representation truth sexuality 

References

  1. Agustín, L. (2006). The disappearance of a migrant category: Migrants who sell sex. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 32, 29–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agustín, L. M. (2007). Sex at the margins: Migration, labour markets and the rescue industry. New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  3. Barthes, R. (1977). Image-music-text. London: Fontana.Google Scholar
  4. Bennett, W. L. (2005). News as reality TV: Election coverage and the democratization of truth. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 22, 171–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernstein, E. (2007). The sexual politics of the “new abolitionism”: Imagery and activism in contemporary anti-trafficking campaigns. Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 18(3), 128–151.Google Scholar
  6. Bickford, A. (2003). See the world, meet interesting people, have sex with them: Tourism, sex, and recruitment in the U.S. military. American Sexuality Magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2008, from http:// nsrc.sfsu.edu/MagArticle.cfm?Article=113& PageID =8& SID=59FE2D7C4E0B33976D4CE7400DFFAD 37& DSN=nsrc dsn Google Scholar
  7. Bienstock, R. E. (Writer/Director/Producer). (2006). Sex slaves [Documentary]. United States: PBS Frontline.Google Scholar
  8. Chacón, J. M. (2006). Misery and myopia: Understanding the failures of U.S. efforts to stop human trafficking. Fordham Law Review, 74, 2977–3040.Google Scholar
  9. Chapkis, W. (2003). Trafficking, migration, and the law: Protecting innocents, punishing immigrants. Gender & Society, 17, 923–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific. (1998). Promoting women’s rights/fighting sexual exploitation. Manila, Philippines: Author.Google Scholar
  11. Datta, B. (2005). Not a sob story: Representing the realities of sex work in India. In G. Misra & R. Chandiramani (Eds.), Sexuality, gender and rights (pp. 260–276). New Delhi: Sage Publications India.Google Scholar
  12. Department of Defense. (2000). Selected manpower statistics: Fiscal year 2000. Washington, DC: Department of Defense Washington Headquarters Services, Directorate for Information.Google Scholar
  13. Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General. (2003, July 10). Assessment of DoD efforts to combat trafficking in persons, phase 1—United States Forces Korea. Retrieved March 25, 2008, from http://www. dodig.osd.mil/fo/foia/H03L88433128PhaseI.PDF Google Scholar
  14. Doezema, J. (2000). Loose women or lost women? The re-emergence of the myth of White slavery in contemporary discourses of trafficking in women. Gender Issues, 18(1), 23–50.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Durham, F. (1998). News frames as social narratives: TWAflight 800. Journal of Communication, 48(44), 100–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Feingold, D. (Writer/Director), & Slotar, D. W. (Producer). (2003). Trading women [Documentary]. United States: Documentary Film Resources.Google Scholar
  17. Goodman, R. (2000). Fieldworkandreflexivity: Thoughts from the anthropology of Japan. In P. Dresch, W. James, & D. Parkin (Ed.), Anthropologists in a wider world: Essays on field research (pp. 151–166). New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  18. Gough, B., & Edwards, G. (1998). The beer talking: Four lads, a carry out and the reproduction of masculinities. The Sociological Review, 40, 409–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gupta, R. (Writer/Director/Producer). (1997). The selling of innocence [Documentary]. India: Apne Aap.Google Scholar
  20. Haraway, D. (1988). Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism as a site of discourse on the privilege of partial perspective. Feminist Studies, 14, 575–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hesford, W. S., & Kozol, W. (2005). Introduction. In W. S. Hesford & W. Kozol (Eds.), Just advocacy: Women’s human rights, transnational feminisms, and the politics of representation (pp. 1–32). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Himmelstein, H. (1994). Television news and the television documentary. In H. Himmelstein (Ed.), Television myth and the American mind (2nd ed., pp. 247–286). Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
  23. Hughes, D. (2003, April 9). Testimony: Trafficking of women and children in East Asia and beyond: A review of U.S. policy. Retrieved July 29, 2008, from http://www.senate. gov/ ~foreign/testimony/2003/ HughesTestimony030409.pdf Google Scholar
  24. Investigative Reporters and Editors. (2007). 2002 IRE Awards Winners & Finalists, Investigative Reporting Contest. Retrieved November 11, 2007, from http:// www.ire.org/contest/past/02winners.html Google Scholar
  25. Jacoby, M. (2002, December 9). Does U.S. abet Korean sex trade? Retrieved May 23, 2008, from http://www. propagandamatrix.com/does us abet korean sex trade.htm Google Scholar
  26. Jordan, A. (2002). The annotated guide to the Complete UN Trafficking Protocol. Washington, DC: International Human Rights Law Group.Google Scholar
  27. Kapur, R. (2002). The tragedy of victimization rhetoric: Resurrecting the “native” subject in international/ post-colonial feminist legal politics. Harvard Human Rights Journal, 15, 1–38.Google Scholar
  28. Kempadoo, K., Sanghera, J., & Pattanaik, B. (Eds.). (2005). Trafficking and prostitution reconsidered: New perspectives on migration, sex work, and human rights. London: Paradigm.Google Scholar
  29. Kim, E. H. (1997). Men’s talk: A Korean American view of South Korean constructions of women, gender, and masculinity. In E. Kim & C.-M. Choi (Eds.), Dangerous women: Gender and Korean nationalism (pp. 67–118). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Kristof, N. D. (2004a, January 17). Girls for sale. New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from http://query. nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0DEEDF163 9F934A25752C0A9629C8B63 Google Scholar
  31. Kristof, N. D. (2004b, January 21). Bargaining for freedom. New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html? res=9D01E1DD1239F932A15752C0A9629C8B63 Google Scholar
  32. Kristof, N. D. (2004c, January 24). Going home, with hope. New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html? res=9C04EEDA1E39F937A15752C0A9629C8B63 Google Scholar
  33. Kristof, N. D. (2004d, January 28). Loss of innocence. New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E 04EFDC1238F93BA15752C0A9629C8B63 Google Scholar
  34. Kulick, D. (2005). Four hundred thousand Swedish perverts. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 11, 205–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Landesman, P. (2004, January 25). The girls next door. New York Times Magazine. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/25/ magazine/25SEXTRAFFIC.html?ei=5007en=43dbe 6ef76e45af8ex=1390366800 Google Scholar
  36. Levine, A. (Director), & Beauchamp, C. (Writer). (2003). The day my God died [Documentary]. United States: Andrew Levine Productions.Google Scholar
  37. Luce, H. R. (Ed.). (1951, January 1). Time, 57(1).Google Scholar
  38. Luibhéid, E. (2004). Heteronormativity and immigration scholarship: A call for change. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 10, 227–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lyon, A. (2005). Misrepresentation of missing women in the U.S. press: The rhetorical uses of disgust, pity, and compassion. In W. S. Hesford & W. Kozol (Eds.), Just advocacy: Women’s human rights, transnational feminisms, and the politics of representation (pp. 173–194). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  40. May, M. (2006). A special report: Diary of a sex slave. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 6, 2007, from http://www.sfgate.com/sextrafficking/ Google Scholar
  41. McNair, B. (2005). What is journalism? In H. de Burgh (Ed.), Making journalists: Diverse models, global issues (pp. 25–43). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Merriman, T., Easterly, G., Mounts, R., DeMarino, M., Hollis, D., & Roskey, T. (2002). Trafficked for the military [Hidden-camera investigation]. Cleveland, OH: WJW-TV.Google Scholar
  43. Miraldi, R. (1990). Muckraking and objectivity: Journalism’s colliding traditions. New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  44. Office of the Press Secretary. (2003, February 25). Trafficking in Persons national security presidential directive. Retrieved July 30, 2008, fromhttp://www. whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030225. html Google Scholar
  45. Page Act of 1875 (ch. 141, 18 Stat. 477, March 3, 1875).Google Scholar
  46. Phelan, P. (1993). Unmarked: The politics of performance. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Soderlund, G. (2002). Covering urban vice: The New York Times, “White slavery,” and the construction of journalistic knowledge. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 19, 438–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Soderlund, G. (2005). Running from the rescuers: New U.S. crusades against sex trafficking and the rhetoric of abolition. NWSA Journal, 17, 64–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Stein, S. R. (2001). Legitimating TV journalism in 60 Minutes: The ramifications of subordinating the visual to the primacy of the word. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 18, 249–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. The Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution, (n.d.). Tom Merriman. Retrieved November 20, 2007, from http://www.constitutioncenter.org/ jennings/bios/merriman.html Google Scholar
  51. Truong, T.-D., Wieringa, S., & Chhachhi, A. (2007). Gender questions in the human security framework: An introduction. In T.-D. Truong, S. Wieringa, & A. Chhachhi (Eds.), Engendering human security: Feminist perspectives (pp. i-xvi). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  52. U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. (n.d.). Testimony: Hon. Representative Christopher Smith. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from http://www. csce.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContentRecords.Vie wWitness& ContentRecord id=557& ContentType= D& ContentRecordType=D& ParentType=B& CFID= 18849146& CFTOKEN=53 Google Scholar
  53. Vance, C. S. (2004). Innocence and experience: Melodramatic narratives of sex trafficking and their consequences for health and human rights. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  54. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106–386 (Reauthorized 2003, 2005).Google Scholar
  55. Walkowitz, J. R. (1992). City of dreadful delight: Narratives of sexual danger in late-Victorian London. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Women’s Studies DepartmentWellesley CollegeWellesley

Personalised recommendations