[FOUNTAIN]Impact of the sexual revolution

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[FOUNTAIN]Impact of the sexual revolution

As the stage curtains slowly open, a hush falls over the audience, and Seo Ju-hi, the heroine of this monologue drama appears. She begins to talk, and her language is strange, although her pace and diction are careful; the effect is like that of a sudden cold shower.

My face begins to flush with embarrassment, and I shift in my seat a few times. There follows a discussion of female reproductive organs and sexual acts, discussions that have been considered taboo. Her words are delivered so earnestly that the wall between the stage and the audience vanishes.

This is the scene at a small theater in Daehangno, in central Seoul, where a play called "The Vagina Monologues" is being staged. Except for five or six middle-aged couples, the entire audience was women in their 20s and 30s. A woman in the audience came up to the stage unhesitatingly and consented to be interviewed about her vagina by the actress. As the audience began to feel more comfortable with the subject, the atmosphere became more dynamic. Eve Ensler, an activist and the play's author, touches on essential issues of a woman's sexuality, such as sexual violence, and emphasizes sexual liberation in her script.

Kate Millet, a well-known U.S. feminist, coined the term "sexual politics." Ms. Millet argued that concepts of power and control are embedded in various descriptions of sexual acts and tried to give concrete examples. She created a philosophy that set the direction of the women's liberation movement by relating men's domination over women to sexual politics. Her efforts were a rekindling of a movement that began with Henrik Ibsen's 19th century play, "A Doll's House."

Gary Stanley Becker, a Nobel Prize winner in economics and an American economics professor, examined the economic impact of discrimination against women, and noted that the increasing number of women entering the work force encouraged women to remain single and end unhappy marriages. Selection of the right spouse is an important investment for men and women of marriageable age.

The sexual revolution surprised the generation which is now in their 50s and older. There needs to be more research on how the sexual revolution has affected marriage patterns and the society that younger people will eventually lead. We need to adopt a more serious and realistic approach to judging the trade-offs, the gains and losses, resulting from the sexual revolution.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Choi Chul-joo

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