Gender discrimination, also known as sexism, is a worldwide problem whereby an individual experiences discriminatory or prejudicial behaviors sue to his/her gender or sexual characteristics. Although this kind of discrimination has severe effects on both males and females, it is usually the female members of the society that are more affected by gender discrimination.
Being a South Korean by nationality, I have witnessed extreme gender discrimination in the South Korean society. In my country, it is a common belief that males are naturally superior to females. Even though I am a twenty-years old male, I can understand how biasness has negatively affected women in South Korea. It is a saddening reality that people abuse and disregard women on the basis of their gender. Nevertheless, it is a good thing that South Koreans have started to treat women with respect and regard in the current times. Still, there is a lot to accomplish in my country order to give women their deserved rights and respect.
My personal experiences have also made me realize the prevalence and manifestation of gender discrimination in the South Korean society. In fact, it would not be untrue to state that I have observed gender discrimination in my own family. Being the only male child, I had a special place in the family. I have seen how my two elder sisters were treated in an entirely different manner just because they were females. I still remember the special treatment my grandmother used to give me because of my gender. She frequently gave me pocket money so that I could buy my favorite snacks. On the other hand, my sisters were usually ignored. I was also allowed to do whatever I desire. My parents also made me learn and take part in activities I liked. For instance, I had a fascination to learn piano so they allowed me to learn to play my favorite musical instrument. Similarly, they gave me the permission to learn to play squash. I also learned to paint and did many other art activities. In particular, my parents did not interfere in my life much considering the fact that I was the male child. In contrast, my sisters were treated with strictness and my parents put many restrictions on them. In general, my childhood was carefree and fun as I was the only male child who was favored over his sisters. At the time, the favoritism amused me. Now that I have become an adult, my no-nonsense and mature thoughts have made me understand that my parents should have treated their three children equally without discriminating them on the basis of gender. Sometimes, I feel sorry for my sisters that they were not provided the opportunities by my parents they offered to me with an open heart.
In general, Korean parents do not allow their children to pursue their desired activities especially daughters. Koreans believe in Confucian theory that women are responsible to take care of their family in every situation. Confucius believed that women have distinctive and limited roles. As daughters, they must remain obedient to their parents. As wives, they must always follow the commands of their husbands. As mothers, they must look after their children. In my opinion, this theory introduced by Confucius and followed by South Koreans has affected the role of women in the South Korean society by keeping them at a disadvantaged position. I do not mean to say that women must not follow their parents or husbands. I believe that these are the duties of a woman. However, it is not right to restrict them from fulfilling their other desires in life.
I have been raised in a free and supportive environment because of my gender. This kind of thinking needs to be changed as women are human beings as well. Presently, people in South Korea have become urbanized and modernized in many ways but it is unfortunate that a majority of them still practice gender discrimination at home and workplaces.
I can still recall how the past Korean society practiced male chauvinism in every aspect. Even as a child, I could observe how differently males and females were treated in my home and neighborhood. Males were considered the emperors of the household whereas females were housekeepers. For the same reasons, people preferred to bear boys only. In the present times, this practice of favoring boys over girls is apparent too. As followers of Confucius’ patriarchal traditions, a lot of South Koreans “make their school-attending daughters spend more time helping with housework than sons and spend more money for their sons’ extracurricular study programs” (Lee 131). In the earlier times, South Korean society also discouraged women to participate in the labor market with the prevalent gender discrimination and assumed gender-role orientations. Although this traditional discrimination is changing with the passage of time, concrete measures must be taken by the authorities to make sure that women do not have to go through discrimination and bigotry at workplace. Currently, many organizations and companies in South Korea acknowledge the abilities and competencies of women instead of their gender. In particular, economic development “in the service sector and ICT is anticipated to offer greater opportunities for women managers” (Rowley & Yukongdi 14) in the country.
I do not have a particular role model but I have read about Martin Luther King. His teachings and principles have inspired me a lot as he worked for ending the racial segregation and discrimination. I believe that women in South Korea have great potential. Times are changing and the world can see that South Koreans have started to embrace the accomplishments of women in a number of fields. South Korea is advancing in almost every sector and women can play a decisive role in the advancement of country’s economy. I believe that both female bachelors and housewives must be given a permanent quota at the workplaces so that they can demonstrate their competence in the commercial world. In addition, there has been a rise in the workforce shrinkage with the increase in the senior citizens layoff from offices. This gap can be bridged by providing more opportunities to women to work. In the last two decades, “South Korea has experienced an increase in female labor utilization” (Yukongdi & Benson 7). Still, a great change is needed in the work environment of South Korea by allowing more women to acquire powerful positions.
Lee, Essie E. Nurturing Success: Successful Women of Color and Their Daughters. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2000. Print.
Rowley, Chris, and V. Yukongdi. The Changing Face of Women Managers in Asia. London: Routledge, 2009. Print.
Yukongdi, Vimolwan, and J. Benson. Women in Asian Management. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.