FEMINISM: What is it, and how does it work?
FEMINISM: What is it, and how does it work?
  • Park Tae-ha
  • 승인 2018.09.11 16:40
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FEMINISM: What is it, and how does it work?


What exactly is feminism? What is it all about? Am I getting it right or wrong? ST leads you to a precise understanding of feminism, and diagnoses the current issues concerning it.............................................................................................................................Ed


One of Korea's 2018 keywords is “feminism.” As “Me Too” movement became more active, interest in the human rights of women, the main victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence, has increased. Naturally, interest in “feminism,” which advocates women's rights, has also broadened. Feminism refers to various forms of social and political movements and theories that focus on the equality of women's rights and opportunities. Women can claim their rights as equal to men through feminism. On the other hand, feminism can be formed in the wrong direction and, in some cases, only the heterogeneity of both sexes can be maximized. This tendency raises the need to establish the right definition and level of awareness on feminism.


The origin of feminism began with the movement of women in men-centered societies because men have historically led social and political participation. The first wave occurred most actively in the United Kingdom and in the United States in the 19th century, when “femininity” became more passive and oppressive. In other words, women had enjoyed extended suffrage and private property rights, which used to be the rights of men only, so that they could manifest their full potential in the social system as individuals. The second wave focused on liberating women from various social inequalities, such as improving the working environment and wage levels. Finally, the third wave focused on modifying a single view of women. It was also an opportunity to be equipped with the theoretical sophistication necessary to assert diversity and differences beyond gender.

This year, interest in women's rights has increased in Korea, so various forms of feminism have been formed. Books related to feminism have also been listed on the bestseller list. One of the most representative feminist books is Kim Ji Young born in 1982 by Cho Nam Joo. It sets the heroine Kim Ji Young as a Korean woman in her 30s, showing how invisible discrimination exists in the society today, and is suppressing women's lives. It is a feminist novel socially declaring that women’s rights are institutionalized, but they are still constrained within the framework of “women.”


In addition to the passive participation in reading books related to feminism, there is an active protest, like participating in the Hyehwa Station protest. The Hyehwa Station protest began with a preliminary investigation into the incident in which a photograph was taken secretly in class at a nude crook in Hongik University. The actual name of the protest in Hyehwa Station is “Denial of a partisan investigation in the illegal shooting.” Various feminist organizations gathered at the protest. Through this protest, the participation rate of women has increased in the sense that the recognition of women’s rights that were treated unequally in society could once again be established. It has also received much attention as an unprecedented reformist demonstration to create a society that is equipped with gender equality. On the other hand, the rhetoric and the violence of some extreme feminists participating in the protest may lead to a dislike for all men contrary to the actual purpose. Indeed, they use words that debase men in front of police officers dispatched to maintain the protest order, and there were also concerns that citizens were worried about reverse discrimination against men. Distorted definitions of feminism can spread by these behaviors.


Since feminism became a major issue in society, it became necessary to concentrate on the social values of these ideologies. It is true that these forms of social movements and theories are double-sided, and it is difficult to judge what is right and wrong, and to define the right meaning of the movements. Therefore, it is necessary to pursue feminism in the right way by excluding the narrow way of thinking, and focusing on the original meaning of gender equality through the origin of feminism and the guarantee of the human rights of women. Thus, in practicing feminism, women should not discriminate against men in their liberation from their feminine roles, but rather acknowledge differences in their genders. Furthermore, both men and women are required to eliminate a kind of behavior or unfair treatment that is imposed due to their gender, and to create a social atmosphere that can be respected as a personality, regardless of gender. It is hard to realize the purpose of gender equality by biasing gender, and making biased actions or statements about sex. In this regard, JoHan Hyejeong, an expert on feminism and an honorary professor of cultural anthropology at Yonsei University remarked on the current situation and the direction of feminism as follow, “Feminism is basically the idea of creating a society in which women and men are living together in a healthy way, and many citizens are exercising diverse ways to make a difference. The phenomenon that women and men loathe each other is the neoliberal, and in this system, both genders are victims, and should cooperate with each other. We must be aware of this, and there must be a movement for change in a variety of ways.”

Park Tae-ha (ST Reporter)



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