For Whom Is This Study Intended?
For Whom Is This Study Intended?
  • Lim Lee Hyungsun / Reporter
  • 승인 2011.11.08 23:05
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In our society, women’ s studies is losing its power rapidly.  It is expected somewhat in the reality that the women’s position has changed rapidly, and new students have decreased gradually.  This phenomenon can be thought that our society doesn’t need women’s studies anymore.  However, Kim Youngjoo who recieved master’s degree in women’s studies said, “Women’s study is the study to learn a point of view that can read the structure in the gender.  Abolition of the women’s study means that this chance will disappear.” In this moment called as the crisis of women’s studies, do you have a minimum interest in it?


Study for Women?

Although women’s studies has reached almost 30  years in Korea, many people have a lot of misconceptions and see it negatively.  However, the most worried point is that the researchers who study it are only women.  Of course, it is a fortunate thing that the women’s studies has existed among men’s society.  However, this situation could make the future of women’s study darker.  If only women research women’s studies, society could be never changed toward what this study wants.  For example, there is an interesting story that occurred in one women’s studies class at a women’s university.  In the class, the professor gave a press release that women accounted for 80% of the mortality in the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami.  The class started to guess why the majority of the dead were women.  Most answers of women’s university students were: “Women died to save their children because they have a very strong maternal love,” or “Women have an unfavorable physical condition compared with men.”  The right answer is because most men go to sea to work.  The damage of the tsunami was less in the middle of the sea.  However, a man who was only the man in this class raised his hand and said he was shocked.  He didn’t know that women thought so much of maternal love this way.  He continued by saying that he was surprised that women considered it as natural that maternal love was greater than fatherliness.  Although men don’t bear the baby personally and don’t express affection as much as women, certainly they would love their babies by thinking of their children first when they faced a disaster like this.2
This is very little example of the different attitude about the view between man and woman.  Already most university students have their own stereotypes.  However, women’s studies can give them a new point of view.  If only women discussed the women’s problems, the man is likely to be thought of as the enemy to woman.  However, if there is a man who discusses it with women, he can show the other side that can’t be thought between women and he himself can be changed.  In this point,
we can know that this study is not for women, but also for men.



Doenjang Girl Is Equal to Feminist?
There are a lot of misunderstandings about feminism and feminists in Korea.  First of all, many people think of Doenjang Girls as feminists.  The word Doenjang Girl has been a hot issue in Korea.  It refers to a woman who is pretentious without self-examination, and enjoys only luxury.   For example, a woman who sets material factors (money, car, house and so on) above everything else when she meets a man and who buys coffee in Starbucks though she doesn’t have the money to eat the food.  Since then, as the social impact and controversy increase, a lot of parodies and criticisms have poured out.  The problem is that this criticism attacked feminism and feminists.  People started to indentify Doenjang Girl with feminist and called serious Doenjang Girls
ggolfemi’.*  Kang, who is in Kyunghee University ’10 said, “I don’t know well what feminists are and I think many people would be similar to me.  Therefore, it is difficult to distinguish Doenjang Girl and feminist.”  However in fact, feminism pursues a complete opposite side with Doenjang girl.  The only same thing between two is respecting the women’s rights and freedoms.  However, women called Doenjang Girl try to realize it by depending on the man different from the feminists.  In this point, they seem to choose to return to patriarchy.  In contrast, feminists follow the value toward harmony without sexual discrimination.


Feminist’s Style Is Mannish?

When Koreans think of the feminists, they imagine a woman who has short hair, sticks to only pants, and refuses marriage.  In other words, maybe she has a very mannish style.  Then why do people connect feminist with mannish woman?  In the past, feminists denied femininity very much under the reason that they received sexual discrimination.  Feminists refused the cultural symbol for women, for example not wearing a brassiere.  However, this attitude made women more passive, ironically.3  In other words, most average women who do not show these actions are thought as doing anything for women’s rights by the feminists.   In feminism, women came to be ignored.  Also behind this situation, there is a fact that we have been educated about femininity since birth, not only in family but also in society.  As a result, we learn a very wrong fact in this process: refusing femininity is taking maleness.  Therefore, some feminists said that women should waste femininity to be a feminist.  However, wasting femininity is not what women wanted.  They couldn’t empathize with feminists and these experiences made women turn away their heads from women’s studies.  This fact is closely connected to the women’s attitudes about women’s studies.  Not only men but also women don’t view the feminists with good eyes.  Men show that they can’t and don’t think to understand about it, for example they use the word ‘ggolfemi’ when they put women down.  Meanwhile, women don’t have an interest in it despite the fact that they are female.  However in fact, true feminists never say that women should waste femininity.4  Most women have experiences that they get more advantages when they put on their makeup than when not doing
makeup.  The reason is because they show their own charm: femininity.  Using it well is a nice ability for only women.  Because of some feminists who tried to throw out this strong weapon, all feminists are thought of as boyish characters by the public.  True feminists say that a woman should control her femininity well, so use it for an attractive way to appeal.



The Way to Be Free
Then why is this study important to female university students?  It is because when they learn women’s studies, women can get out from the social pressure.5  In Korean society, the woman is pressured to be a super woman.  In this situation, the amount of stress they get is terribly huge.  However, if women take women’s studies lectures, it can provide information about a more free world.  Of course, some people say after studying women’s studies they got more confused, but it is quite an encouraging thing.  Before then, that person may be didn’t think about another view to see the world.  Therefore women’s studies is very important for female university students.  Through study, they can learn to be free from the requirements that society wants from a woman and see the world with a new view before going out to society. 

Also, it leads to the love affair.  Generally people consider man as perpetrator and woman as victim.  This thought can be naturally adopted in love relationships.  Lim who is in Ewha Womans University said, “Whenever I fall in love, my partner always dragged me, and after dating I thought he was a very bad person.  However after learning women’s studies, my thought changed.  I always thought I was in the part of victim.  Foolishly, I made myself very pity person.  After knowing this fact, I started to think about myself and the freedom again.”  In this way, women’s studies can help women to be free by thinking newly, and it leads to benefits in the relationships around her.



Waiting for You
Women’s studies is the study that reevaluates the thinking system based on male with female views and, it has a goal to actualize the same self-realization between man and woman, and to increase women’s rights and interests.  Because there are a lot of things focused on the man in
reality, women’s studies helps to consider woman as an equal being.  Some people still think this study is for only women, but ultimately the growth of feminism has a positive impact on men, too.  Therefore, women’s studies is not the theory for only one part and not only for women.  However in Korea, most women’s studies courses are in women’s universities and most students in coeducational environments who took classes are women.  We often see the male students who took women’s studies strangely and sometimes they are criticized by the men that they are on the women’s side.  Future women’s studies should go forward with men and women both.  To realize it, university students as intellectuals of our society need to become interested in women’s studies.  “Even in other countries where the women’s positions are higher than in Korea, women’s studies is offers various courses because sensibility has grown from women’s studies related with leadership and this fact has received high valuation,” said Master in women’s studies
Kim Youngjoo.6  Women’s studies is not for Doenjang Girl or mannish women.  Now, this study is awaiting you!


* ggolfemi is a word used to depreciate the feminists on the Internet.

1 Kim Hyangmi, 「Abolition of Women’s Study is Crisis of Humanities」, The KyungHyang Sinmun, 2011.09.13 

2 Korean Women Researcher,  『New Women’s Studies Lecture』, Dongnyuk, 2005

3 Kim Youngmi, 「Evolution of Women’s Studies」, 2006. 04
4 Same as 2

5 An Sunhwa, 「Misunderstanding of Feminism」, Presian, 2011.05.19
6 Same as 1

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