Picture two female students shooting excellent pool in a billiard room. Then, picture two sturdy male students chattering away in a cafe sipping coffee through mini straws. These two scenes aren’t too normal, and that is because men and women hardly enjoy the two same venues. Whilst women enjoy spending hours and hours shopping or eating, men love to play pool or computer games. The 21st century is supposed to represent a unisex environment where there are no boundaries between either sexes. However, all we see is a clear visible line between cafes and internet cafes. Why is it that males and females rarely enjoy the same leisure space?
Unisex, a Contradiction?
Men and women enjoy different leisure spaces. How so? The evidence can clearly be seen right on our Sookmyung Campus. Students from other universities praise how pretty our streets look. This is because a women’s university is filled with tiny fragrant cafes and restaurants whereas an average university street is stacked with pubs and billiard rooms. According to a survey, 20% of the male university students replied that ‘sports’ is their favorite hobby, closely followed by games (14%) and television (11%).1 When the hobbies differ, so do the venues. Male students usually like to go to internet cafes, game arcades or play station rooms. Contrastingly, women like to meet friends not in pubs, but in classy cocktail bars. Yu Areum, Department of English ’11, says “Whenever I meet up with my male friend, it’s hard to choose where to go. He doesn’t like cafes, and I certainly don’t like to drink alcohol a lot.” This is a quote from the strongly feminist author, Virginia Woolf, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”2 In the early 1900s, a time when women were hardly handed any money-earning jobs, the patriarchy world invaded into every inch of a woman’s rights. There was no room to spread any legs, especially across the labor market. So Woolf stated that for a woman to be successful as a writer, one should have a room of her own in the house to block out the many obstacles that were in a woman’s way. This applied, not only to writers, but to other professions as well. Women needed a space of their own, without any men, in order to survive in the society during that day. However, in today’s century, the restrictions against females have clearly been lifted. The increased support of firms towards pregnant employees,3 and the increase in the rate of female CEOs4 are two representative examples. Two key words of our era are ‘unisex’ and ‘gender-blindness.’ Sex has no meaning and implicates little differences. A woman can go into politics, a man can knit at home. The areas that women and men both kept to themselves are now slowly blending together into one. Or is it? It is undeniable that there still exists a tall wall between males and females when it comes to leisure venues. Where is the unisex here?
A Mother and Daughter Thing
Why is it that men and women still do not share the same likings towards a leisure venue? A first possibility is because men and women have fundamentally different attractions in life that date back from the genesis of human beings. Meaning to say that the differences in both sexes on which kind of leisure venue they enjoy is dependent on biological aspects. Men are naturally competitive and react aggressively to an opponent.5 This comes from the start
of mankind, when men would compete with each other to win a mate or fight to become the alpha male. It has been proved by scientific research that male hormones (testosterone) make men more competitive for social ranks.6 This directly relates to their attraction towards game-based activities such as sports or computer games; they have a stronger urge to win. On the other hand, the maternal instincts of a female make women very understanding and protective. They are less hostile and thus instinctively enjoy communicating with another person. This can be an explanation as to why women like to sit in cafes to listen to other people and interact through nonviolent verbal communication. There is another aspect that encourages the segregation, and that is the marketing strategies of firms that focus on a single sex. It is the job of the marketing team to target the biggest consumer
group and improve the business specific to their needs. This group can be categorized by age or region (for example, happy meals at McDonalds that target young consumers). However, when the consumer group is defined by sex then it becomes a contributing factor for a more severe division between males and females. Women specialized industries are emerging due to the women’s elevation of status and increase in consumption. According to one study, 80% of all consumption in the country is executed by women.7 Real estate agent Kim Geunok says “Industries specialized in women last longer in an economic slump, so it’s agood idea to invest according to the trends of females.”8 Drinks that help you lose weight or enhance health are a common example
of investing in women specialized strategies, but they obviously widen the gap between where males and females like to visit.
With obstacles forming a brick wall between the two sexes today, could there be a venue that both males and females can naturally visit? Will men and women stand on two parallel lines across the foreseeable time line and never meet, or will we eventually become a gender blind species? According to recent statistics, 40% of the baseball ticket sales this year were the women’s share.9 The world of sports, which most men think women do not understand, is now slowly being crowded by females. This could be an opening seam of a whole new type
of leisure venue trend. Which way do you think our society is heading towards? Will we merge to a mutual ground, or not? What do you think will happen? Or in more simple words,which way will you head?
1 Kim Yoonha, “Male University Student Hobby ‘Internet’,” Datanews, July 20, 2012
2 Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own,” Oxford University Press, 1929, p4
3 Go Eunkyung, “New Wave Amongst Firms to Support Pregnant Employees,” Hankook Ilbo, October 9, 2012
4 Byun Haejeong, “KOSDAQ Capital Stocks CEO Average Age 53.4,” Newsis, August 9, 2012
5 Bertran Russel, “Proposed Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism,” 1919
6 Kwon Younjeon, “The Violence and Competiveness of Men is Because of Hormones?,” Yeonhap News, November 13, 2009
7 Kim Hana, “If You Want to Attract Young Lady Costumers, Focus ‘Here’...” Hankyung News, July 4, 2012
8 Bae Kyunghwan, “Are there industries that target on women’s wallets?” Asia Economy News, July 4, 2012
9 Yoo Haekil, “Seven Million Cries... Professional Baseball Opens New Era,” SegyeIlbo, October 2, 2012