Here are the updates to the Valleywag Comfort Women scandal. For those of you new to this story, two days ago, I was sickened to see that Gawker’s tech-focused media site Valleywag had posted a “satirical” article comparing a new startup, The Dating Ring, to the Japanese Imperial Army’s use of sex slaves during World War II. These women, known as Comfort Women, are a group of up to 200,000 mostly Korean women now in their 80s and 90s. They are now slowly dying without receiving a formal apology from the government of Japan, who has recently been attempting to downplay the horror of this piece of their military history.
In my previous post, I published the letter I sent to the article’s writer and editors, as well as the aftermath of outrage from fellow supporters of the Comfort Women. Here are the latest developments:
I initially reached out to the author of the piece, Nitasha Tik. She responded with a link to the apology that she had posted in the comments section of the original article, which I included in the above post. Today I sent the following response:
Thank you for replying and for addressing our concerns. I would appreciate a more in-depth statement included *above* the original content, so as not to similarly upset and traumatize potential Korean/Korean-American Valleywag readers and other supporters of the Comfort Women.
However, and please correct me if I’m wrong, I imagine that you’re in a tough spot as a Woman of Color in tech, well known for its misogynistic treatment of women employees — especially since your editors refuse to back you up with their own apology. In fact, they’re inflaming the situation by refusing to apologize, drawing further attention to you, despite your apology. This is why I’ve ceased to publicly address you despite escalating my critique of your company as a whole.
I hope you will support, if not publicly then in your heart, our demands that Gawker, Valleywag, Max Read, and Sam Biddle be held accountable for continuing to make light of such a horrible situation.
I also reached out to The Dating Ring, the startup who was slandered in the article, for a response. Lauren, CEO, responded with the following statement:
“I was disheartened, but not at all surprised, by the Valleywag article. It’s par for the course for Valleywag to make disgusting ‘tongue in cheek’ comparisons in the name of pageviews.
But to immediately equate a vacation that involves dating with sex slavery is extremely problematic — especially considering that this comparison was never drawn (and would never be drawn) for the same trip in reverse.”
Needless to say, being stonewalled, dismissed, and ridiculed by Gawker representatives in response to the outrage expressed by myself and my peers has been frustrating. However, my experience is nothing compared to the pain and frustration experienced by the Comfort Women themselves, many of whom have been protesting outside of the Japanese Embassy in Korea every week for nearly a decade, as I learned through this deeply heartbreaking, beautifully made film, Within Every Woman.
I look forward to a public apology from Gawker, Valleywag, and editors Max Read and Sam Biddle for making an inhumane attempt at satirizing the trauma of 200,000 women who were brutally enslaved and raped during WWII, and in doing so, perpetuating misogyny, racism, and rape culture in exchange for page views. Please join our social media campaign at #GawkingAtRapeCulture and #NotYourAsianSidekick to learn more and make your voices heard.