International Womens Day


Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for women to take action helping to show unity and strength, with many also participating in “A Day Without Woman” which asks women take the day off from their job. Here in Gloucester, we ask people to wear red to show support and for those of us who cannot afford to take the day off, we will be sounding the bells at Gloucester City Hall at 12 Noon and lighting the tower red.

At that time, we will be taking a moment of silence to honor all women. If you are with another woman at 12 Noon, please show appreciation directly. Though many are asked not to shop today, if you are, please shop locally today and support businesses owned by women.

By recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system and taking actions in solidarity with other community, we are proud of all woman and we remind all in our community to cherish one another today. Thank you!

One comment

  • Very big turnout this way too! Come a long ways but still work to do all the way around for all countries 🙂 Dave & Kim 🙂

    International Women’s Day: The female situation in South Korea

    作者: The AsiaN Editor on 7 March , 2017.
    类别: All, Asia, Culture, East Asia, History, News, People, Society

    International Women’s Day (March 8th) has been observed since in the early 1900’s. “It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political” UN website reports.

    What is the female situation in South Korea? Answering to this question is not an easy job.

    Even if the Confucian concept Nam-Jon-Yeo-Bi (男尊女卑”man is higher than women”) affected and still affecting the role of women in many Asian countries, we can find several examples of relevant women in Korea. Looking back over the Korean history, Queen Seondeok of Silla played a strategic role. She reigned as Queen of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, from 632 to 647. She was drawn to Buddhism and presided over the completion of Buddhist temples. She also worked towards the relief of poverty. Another famous woman of Korean history is Shin Saimdang (1504 – 1551). She was an artist, writer, calligraphist, poet and the mother of the Korean Confucian scholar Yulgok. Her respectful nickname was Eojin Eomeoni. A Korean heroine from the last century is named Yu Gwansun Sun (1902 – 1920). She was an organizer in what would come to be known as the March 1st Movement against the Imperial Japanese colonial rule of Korea. She was imprisoned and tortured because of her continued activism even in prison.

    Trying to analyze the situation in the recent years, the clash between tradition and capitalism brought controversial consequences. First of all, only in 2005, South Korea abolished Hojeok, the family register system that places the man at the head of the family and defines everyone else in relation to him. According to the Global Gap Report of 2016 by the World Economic Forum, the country was ranked 116th out of 144.

    Secondly, the concept of beauty is very important in South Korea: in fact, the nation has the highest rate of cosmetic surgeries in the world. The country “is rapidly becoming the world’s plastic surgery leader, with more cosmetic procedures per head of population than any other nation” Daily Mail reports. Double eyelid surgery, V-Line Jaw Reduction, Epicanthoplasty, Rhinoplasty and Forehead Augmentation are the most common plastic surgeries for Koreans. “There are lots of girls who come in (clinic) after breaking up with their boyfriends” Dr. Seo, a surgeon from Seo Jae Don Plastic Clinic, declared. Apparently please the partner idea of beauty is one of the reasons why the rate of plastic surgeries is so high in South Korea.

    In addition to a specific idea of beauty to deal with, South Korean women have to deal with the female role in Kpop videos too. In fact, the K-pop industry is a pioneer in fetishizing barely legal young women as consumer products. Taking into account the lyric of a very famous song (Bang Bang Bang), the sentence “Guys go on top, girls get low” appears at least sexist. However, the Kpop lyrics are full of discrimination sentences: “And your body is my wonderland, I could play all night […] I cock it and load it, call me Mr. Big Rocket […] Niagara Falls, baby girl, I got you wetter than” (Move), “See I’m about to change positions, come and take my magic stick, gonna take you for a ride, guaranteed to make your body shake” (Rainism).

    In some Kdramas there are also “signs of misogyny, sexual harassment, and dating violence in a romanticized light” the blog Netizen Buzz reports. For example, in “Another Oh Hae-young” broadcast on cable network tvN we can find “several scenes that were under controversy for dating violence, such as Dokyung breaking his car window with Haeyoung still riding it, a scene where he pulls her wrist out of a restaurant and visiting her house without permission. Editors pointed out that any man who shows such signs of violence should be dumped immediately and blame dramas for normalizing or romanticizing such violent actions” (Netizen Buzz).

    Quartz said on October 23rd that while pornography is illegal in Korea, a flood of illicitly filmed images of women is available on online platforms. This crime named molka includes taking pictures up women’s skirts as they travel on public transport or escalators and filming a video inside women’s changing rooms or public toilets. While some offenders use smartphones, others use spy-style gadgets, including ballpoint pens, glasses or wristwatches equipped with microlenses.

    The female situation in South Korea is also affected by the working situation. “Many women drop out of the workforce in Korea at the age of 25, according to OECD data. Kim Ha-rin, a 19-year-old philosophy student who works part-time at McDonald’s, says that some of her colleagues are middle-aged women who were encouraged to quit their jobs after they got pregnant decades ago and now can only get low-wage work” Quartz reports.

    Last but not least, there is the other phenomenon to point out: indeed, a number of cases in recent years have involved women being targeted for violent crimes. “Gangnam murder” is still fresh in people’s minds when a 22-year-old woman was killed by a 34-year-old who told the police that he committed the crime because he had been “belittled by women” many times in the past. Crime by intimate partners has been on the rise in recent years. For this reason girls in Korea talk about “the safe breakup” that is based on simple rules like “don’t say goodbye in a private place alone” or “threaten to call the police if he stalks you”.

    For all these reasons, on August 6th, 2015, the independent website was founded. The name is a neologism combining “MERS gallery”, the web forum where the movement was born, and “Egalia”, the character of the satiric novel “Egalia’s Daughters” written by Gerd Brantenberg’s. In fact, in 2015 the virus MERS, a disease which was first identified in Saudi Arabia, was a huge problem in Korea. The outbreak was linked to two Korean women, who apparently contracted it while traveling on a flight from Seoul to Hong Kong. After they refused to be quarantined in Hong Kong, critics on a popular Korean message board called DC Inside viciously attacked the women. The collective movement began in June 2015, when women began to “mirror” the misogynic comments made by male members on the web. The mirroring technique was an answer to the denigrating popular lexicon, such as “vagina aristocrats” and “kimchi woman”. The targets of this movement are men of course, but also those women who do not contrast the patriarchal society. Moreover, some of the members of Megalia targeted gay men because they are part of the male society in Korea. From that moment on, people started saying “you must be Magalian” in order to say “you are a man hater”. In the website, where everybody writes anonymously, Megalians fought hard for several reasons. In particular, there were two important cases: the first one regarding a Nexon employee and second one regarding a Maxim misogyny campaign.

    Last year Jayeon Kim, a voice actress who worked for PC game company Nexon, posted a selfie on Twitter wearing a shirt that reads “Girls Do Not Need A Prince” and lost her job. “The T-shirt was being sold by Megalia to finance lawsuits brought by women against men they alleged had ill-treated them” BBC reports. In many parts of the world, it would pass as the kind of thing any young woman might wear but “in South Korea, you can not really say because a lot of men aspire to be a prince. They want all the privileges they have enjoyed so far and they are worried that these privileges are slipping away” NY Times writer, professor, and Korea Exposé managing editor Se-Woong Koo declared.

    In 2015, Maxim Korea’s campaign with the headline “The Real Bad Guy” has been severely criticized. In the photo, actor Kim Byung-ok stands in front of a car, from which a woman’s legs tied by duct tape protrude from the half-open trunk. Maxim Korea first defended the photos saying, “We did depict the crime of murder and body abandonment in a film noir way, but there’s no hint of a sexual offense in the picture, and no fantasizing of sex crimes either” and then apologized.

    As 10Mag wrote, “out of context Megalia is an extremist feminazi site full of angry women who hate men”. Only considering the proper context, people can understand why some Korean women are so wrathful.

    Even if a Huffington Post article posted in 2015 titled “A Long Way To Go For Gender Equality In South Korea”, I believe that a slow change is taking place in the country. The election of Park Geun-hye in 2013 was a sign of a new era for women in the country. Unfortunately, the situation went downhill really fast. However, I strongly think the role of women is essential in the Korean society. Women should not solely be regarded as mothers, but also as an important resource for overcoming of the current difficult period in Korea because the ability of rebuilt is inherent in the nature of Korean men and women too. Just look at the stories of Queen Seondeok of Silla, Shin Saimdang, and Yu Gwan Sun.

    Alessandra Bonanomi – The AsiaN Media Intern


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