[LETTERS to the editor] ‘Gold Miss’ - How about it?

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[LETTERS to the editor] ‘Gold Miss’ - How about it?

Have you ever watched “Sex and the City”? Designer clothes and bags, brunch at fancy restaurants and frequent girls’ nights out at the hottest spots in Manhattan define the glamorous lives of the four ladies on the show. What do they have in common? Lucrative careers and no husbands!

In English-speaking countries, they are called “Alpha Girls”; in Japan, “Hanakosan.”

In Korea, “Gold Miss” is a recent coinage derived from “Old Maid.” Both refer to a single woman in her 30s or older. The difference between the two is that the latter simply “failed” to get married, but the former chose not to. A Gold Miss has an impressive academic background and enough financial power to drive a European car and a luxurious apartment of her own. Attractive looks, of course ? you name it! She is the whole package and luckily ? though some might say sadly ? without a husband. “Gold Miss” has become a trendy tag in Korea. We even have words for higher and lower status versions: “Platinum Miss” and “Silver Miss.” A new lexicon means a new phenomenon. So we can not help asking: “Why are women not getting married?”

Education is a factor. Our mother’s generation was raised to believe that education was the exclusive domain of men. For my mother and aunt, a virtuous woman should get married in her early 20s and sacrifice her life for her family. Put simply, there was no “herself” in her life. She was a wife, a mother, a daughter-in-law or a sister-in-law. But things have changed. Education is not only for men anymore. Women can overtake men in various academic fields. An increasing number of women go to college, even graduate school. It means they are better-educated and their point of view has changed. As daughters, they saw a woman’s life as one of self-sacrifice, especially in Korea. Now they are refusing to follow the past generation’s footsteps. The more educated they are, the more skeptical they become: Why marry?

Plus, it’s about financial security. Better education brings a better job, which naturally means more income and financial independence. They can enjoy life on their own terms. As a result, unlike their predecessors who had to tie the knot very young for financial support from their husband, they don’t see marriage as their top priority. They’ve got brains. They’ve got money. All they need is freedom.

Put another way ? the last thing they need is a husband, a freedom-killer. Why marry?

Today the social atmosphere encourages women to dare to be a Gold Miss. Women who are still single in their 30s used to be called Old Maid and was seen in a negative light. It was assumed something was wrong that made her unsuitable for marriage.

But now Gold Misses are not considered miserable spinsters desperate to get hitched. Instead, they are the new idols. Every little girl wants to be like them. They also have become a major marketing target for fashion, food, and cultural industries. Gold misses are today’s Most Valuable Customers who are willing to pay for whatever they want, no matter how expensive. Hence, many companies keep launching new product lines exclusively for Gold Misses.

Who are these women? Just look around! They are your sisters, friends and colleagues having a good time with their fabulous Gold Miss friends. So why marry?

It’s a Gold Miss world. But one might wonder, did they really choose to live like this? They might have simply missed their chance to get married because they spent too much time becoming what they are now. So they end up with money and fame but not a family.

It is very tempting to grab one of them and ask, “Are you really happy?” Sometimes we secretly want their lives, but what if the tag Gold Miss is just to make them feel good about themselves? What if they are just pretending they don’t care about the happily-ever-after life and what they really want is a man to go back to after a long day of work? As women who have a chance to be if not a Gold Miss, at least a Silver Miss, those questions make us feel uncomfortable.

If we do get married at some point, we will have to give up some of our dreams for a family. From the moment we say, “I do,” we’ve got everything except ourselves.

*Park Eun-jung and An Ka-yeong, English teachers at middle schools in Gyeonggi Province
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