Gender doesn’t equal securityAs the presidential race heats up, candidates increasingly make provocative remarks against rivals about their gender or background. But biased statements cannot be justified as they can inflict serious damage on the universal values of our society.
Saenuri Party lawmaker Lee Jae-oh, who announced his candidacy for president, responded to a question on female leadership in an interview with foreign correspondents by saying, “It is too early for us to have a female president without experience in the military amid tense confrontation with North Korea.”
Of course, knowledge and experience in military and security affairs are significant qualifications for the president in a country constantly exposed to security threats from Pyongyang. However, if you say female presidential candidates have critical flaws just because they don’t have to serve in the military, it is not only misleading but also simply wrong. It can also invite a strong backlash.
National security capability does not depend on gender. Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister (1979-1990) in Europe, deftly responded to Northern Ireland’s violent independence struggle. In 1982, she successfully led and won the war with Argentina when it occupied the Falkland Islands.
The group with no expertise in military affairs Rep. Lee referred to also includes President Lee Myung-bak, who didn’t serve in the Korean military for health reasons. But Rep. Lee earnestly rooted for him as a presidential candidate for the party five years ago and clinched a victory in the election.
Afterward, he served as one of the most powerful figures under the Lee Myung-bak administration. Rep. Lee had served in prison for anti-government activity in 1979 aimed at achieving national liberation. Doesn’t that pose a more serious threat to our national security?
Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo also said recently, “When I was young, I wanted to devote myself to the cause of promoting the public good. So I thought about living a life of celibacy just like monks and nuns do. But I chose marriage as I was afraid I could not remain abstinent for the rest of my life.”
Marriage or celibacy is an individual choice and the environment which defines one’s life is different from one another. It is wrong to find fault with an individual’s choice because it is about respect for his or her privacy. If Governor Kim’s remarks were aimed at Park Geun-hye, it is an unjust attack.