[VIEWPOINT]Gender Equality Knows No Boundaries

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[VIEWPOINT]Gender Equality Knows No Boundaries

Gender conflicts in our society grew worse as military issues increased following last year's debate over men's right to work instead of serving in the military.

Recently, female followers of the feminist Webzine "Woljang," based in Pusan University, criticized the culture of the Reserve Officers Training Corps on the campus. Soon, they became victims of cyber sexual harassment by ex-soldiers.

A petition was filed with the National Assembly, demanding that the ROTC be opened to female students. The feminist community and the Ministry of Gender Equality concentrated their efforts to keep the Korea Armed Forces Nursing Academy from shutting down.

The series of recent incidents share a common point in that they were stirred up as women became aware of the issues related to the military and its culture, which had long been considered as matters for men or country only.

Today, women in our country do not want to suffer from disadvantages only because they did not serve in the military. They also began to understand that the military culture of our country had formed an inseparable relation with suppression against women.

Women started realizing that the military culture was the hotbed of "Feminist Fascism" - the title of a recently published book.

An uprising of women in our society does not end here. Now, young women see the military as a new and attractive opportunity to challenge themselves. The competition to enter military, naval and air force academies among female applicants is fiercer than that of men.

Whenever and wherever the military takes applications for female soldiers, young women are rushing to enter and fill out those applications. Still, some say becoming a female soldier is more difficult than picking a star from the sky.

Female university students, who filed a petition to the National Assembly to gain equal rights to join ROTC, find their base of the argument from the gender equality and freedom of choosing occupations. Now, the military is no longer the way only destined for men. However, men are showing a different atttitude toward women. Many men have realized that military service could be a new job opportunity, even though men once strongly argued that women should serve military duty.

According to a female student who collected signatures to file the petition, male students were not very supportive. Some men also made sardonic and cynical remarks on the homepage of the Ministry of Gender Equality about the decision to maintain the Korea Armed Forces Nursing Academy.

They argued that the school is nothing more than a tool to arrange jobs for women, and the government is wasting the tax-raised money. In fact, such an attitude could be predicted in advance. In the United States, the history of women entering the military marked by challenge and struggle against men who tried to maintain the last stronghold of the male supremacy through keeping the barrier against women.

Issues related to women and the military need complex discussion beyond the simple answers of equality and freedom of selecting occupations.

Yet it is clear that more women are increasingly entering the military throughout the world, and Korea is no exception of such a trend. The general trend of the world right now is to break the gender boundary. More husbands are taking part in childbirth at hospital delivery rooms, while more women are joining the army.

Allowing female students to join ROTC can be considered as something we cannot fight. The trend also demands that male students enter the Korea Armed Forces Nursing Academy. Nursing colleges in Korea have already begun admitting male students.

We should never forget that we are living in a society in which no one specific gender can enjoy an exclusive right.


The writer is a novelist.

by Kim Sin Myeong-suk

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