Gender discussions demand dignity
On my days off, I usually stay home and relax. Naturally, I spend more time with the television than books. After browsing channels, I settled on a program titled “Borgen,” a Danish political drama. The series was created by Danish broadcaster DRI and aired on JTBC from December 2011 to February. I missed the broadcast on JTBC, but CNTV has been airing the series since last month. The show was wildly popular in Denmark, with a 53 percent rating for its first season.
The popularity of the show must have helped Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who last year became Denmark’s first female prime minister. In the show, Prime Minister Birgitte Hjort Sorensen is working hard to gain and maintain power.
However, Sorenson aggressively promotes gender equality, proposing a bill that would require corporate boards of directors to include women. In a meeting with the head of Denmark’s largest conglomerates, a tycoon threatens to move his headquarters abroad if she pushes for the bill, but she stubbornly resisted such pressure and won his cooperation.
She also stood by her human rights principles. A foreign president wanted her to repatriate political prisoners taking refuge in Denmark in return for investing 1 billion euros in Denmark’s wind power generation industry, but she skillfully turned down the offer.
Her own femininity is most evident in her family life, as her service as prime minister involved challenges to her relationship with her husband and caring for her child. A conversation with her husband in their bedroom is symbolic. “You know I love you,” Sorenson tells him. “I love you too,” he responds, “but I don’t know if I love the prime minister as well.”
With Park Geun-hye the candidate of the Saenuri Party, the prospect of a woman president is a hot issue in Korea. Experts in the progressive-minded area of women studies are reluctant to comment because Park is a conservative. There is no doubt that we need to consider how a candidate will promote policies for women, not merely the fact that a candidate is a woman.
However, it is undeniable that a woman president would be very meaningful. The problem is that discussion of a woman president often turns into a political strategy game as the election approaches. Depending on who you support, the theories could change and foreign examples are interpreted differently.
The discussion of gender may be acceptable, but the mention of “genital organ” by a psychology professor when referring to Park’s lack of maternity is extremely inappropriate.
It is not a matter of politics, but of the speech and lack of dignity of the person who used such vulgar words.
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Noh Jae-hyun