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It is the Korean culture that women are superior to men. In our society, women subordination is evident in the labor market, in education and political arena as seen in our history and in our stand as a family member. Although there have been significant changes in this culture of gender discrimination, my country still strive to meet the ideal gender equality in favor of the women. I would like to point out three of the most significant or shall I say the most intense moments in my life where I have seen the clear connection of this discrimination in my stand as a woman.
In my early years, I am forced to study well, well enough in order to have a license to defy the consequences of discrimination. As a woman pressured by the fear of experiencing discrimination, I have tried really hard to make it through. I told myself that it is the best way I can fight equally with others. This is my only weapon against any form of inhuman treatment. What I have learned personally was that the drive to study was not out of personal desire to improve my life as a person, but because I am woman, there was the added pressure of striving hard in order to have an edge in the society where I live. On the other hand, I find it beneficial to be pressured that way because other women were also inspired to do the same thing for themselves or for their daughters although the same goal as with me is involved.
When I went to the United States, I did not find it easy to associate myself with the rest of the white men and women in the area. As an Asian girl who has admittedly different culture and tradition I still carry with me, I find some social norms relative to women as somehow appreciative in this nation. For example, the freedom enjoyed by women here in choosing their careers, in availing education and the roles played by women in the family are things that Korean women ought to have. Known to almost all nations, I find it uncomfortable also to explain to other people how our culture has remained that way or at least why does it take so slow to change the norm. The pressure is still with me. As a woman, I need to make a difference and I need to find a way to prove that it is not as worse as what others think. When I am to finally land on my own career I am pressured to make it through the strange land in order that I can prove to myself first that there have been favorable changes in the labor sector for us women.
The third event was that when I tried to ride a train, so loaded that I was forced to stand in the middle with my feet to balance. There were men on their seat but other women like me, even Americans I supposed were left standing and no one ever dared to offer a seat. The event did actually made me think if in this particular case, I am to employ the concept of gender equality. First, if as a woman, I am trying to demand for a fair treatment and that as a woman I am trying to prove that whatever men can do so do women, then in this case I should not be expecting these guys to offer me a seat. On the contrary, even in the American society, the expectation must have been the same. So what I did was to just stand until its time to get off the train.
2) Theorize how the intersectional identity you describe in Part One is located within systems of oppression, privilege, and power, concentrating on meso and macro levels. (10 pts.)
In my first experience mentioned above, I am to admit that I am benefited my sexuality. As a woman in the Korean society, the pressure to strive hard, especially in advancing to education is always present. To just accept the menial role in the labor market to be a woman doing the household chores are things that cannot possibly satisfy me. So as a woman with dreams and ambitions, my Korean experience of gender discrimination has pushed me to limits of my abilities, skills and knowledge including my faith just to ensure my success. My personal satisfaction of what I have achieved right now may not bring too much difference in the Korean society but experience may serve as a good example for others. Sometimes, to be discriminated is the first driving force for somebody to strive hard and to have ambitions. Sometimes people should be thankful that there are people who are trying to bring them down because these even not so painful experiences may bring out the best of what who we are.
In my second experience in the United States, I feel that there was not really a severe discrimination on my part as a Korean. I instead regarded my experience as a call for a social responsibility to make other people understand and be able to accept my culture. To compel me to explain to the Western people how it feels to be in the situation where I am as a woman is in experience of discrimination is something that pushes me to make a difference.
This is primarily because I wanted to prove that there have been changes and I am expecting for a better Korea in the years to come. I am trying the fight the envious feeling within me towards the freedom of women in the Western culture and I am hoping that this be experienced by the Korean women too. As with my experience, I am less discriminated in the nation of the whites since strangers like me were given equal access to the services I needed.
In my third experience, I can say that I am a victim of my own principle and demand for gender equality. To be standing in inside the train for quite somehow does not bring me a burden. What is gender related issue is that there guys relaxingly sitting on their seats while other women are standing. I have realized that there are cases when gender and sex has to be differentiated especially on issues of equality. Gender should be considered in the cases of opportunities in the labor market, in the political and business arena and in availing of other basic services such as education and medical services. On the other hand, sex has to be considered when physical characteristics of both sexes are concerned. Using my experience as an example, I should admit that as a woman, I am physically less capable of enduring burden of standing inside the moving train compared to men. If this analysis is to be considered, then I should as a woman have the right to demand fair treatment. But as for gender equality, I should not since I am claiming that I have at all cost have the same skills, knowledge and abilities to equal to men. I would therefore consider my third experience as a changing social norm and not as a form of gender discrimination. If Western women can adopt to such changes, then I should in all cases be able to cope up.
3) Name actions that you might take to end sex & gender discrimination, prejudice, and/or oppression, based on your analysis in Parts One and Two. (4 pts.)
The first step I can do to reduce gender discrimination is to equip myself with enough knowledge, through education and to see to it that I find the most stable financial and social status I can get. This way, I will be able to make it a point that I am qualified to share my knowledge and skills to other women in our society. Awareness and understanding of human rights, and especially women’s rights is the first key to empower women like me. When I have realized my personal plans, I will not have anything to intervene in my desire to help other people. There are always non-government organizations that can help women on their concerns and they may need somebody to participate in drafting their programs. I can use my education as a weapon in teaching other women in my society, whether it is through informal communications or by formal talks in women seminars and conferences. Indirectly, I can also participate through the preparation of the material needed on workshops intended to help the less fortunate women in making their own source of income. That way, the extended help will be evident in the community level. Other organizations in other areas may find such means as beneficial and maybe inspired to adopt such programs. Little by little, the skills and knowledge of women, especially in attending to financial obligations will be recognized.
The second thing I can most likely do is to endure that I will be able to get through a career in the human resources, or in such company that offers employment services or at least that position in the government where I will have the chance to handle employment and education services. That way, I will have the assurance that the power is in me in providing equal opportunity for women. I believe that the lesser power I have, the lesser is my chance to help reduce gender discrimination. Unless I will have the chance to handle such positions, I find it hard enough to pursue my plans. In case I have the opportunity, I will make it sure that women will have their positions they deserve based on their abilities and education, regardless of their gender. I would not mind taking the critiques of men who oppose to such equality. What I am supposed to concentrate with is the opportunity to empower women. I believe there is nothing wrong here since the evaluation will be done objectively. If I can start doing this in my own locality, then I believe I am not the only woman who desires to help. I may be able to set a good example or a new trend for women that can, as I am hoping, somehow influence other societies.
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