It’s becoming a woman’s world

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It’s becoming a woman’s world


I’ve always thought that it is hard to understand what women think. Of course, women think men are just as incomprehensible. But one thing is certain: men and women are seen differently in society.

“White Paper on Women’s Life” is a witty book filled with common sense and makes a few good points. “Remember that you are evaluated based on the fool you are living with,” reads one truism. Others include, “A sense of humor is not making a funny joke to a man but the ability to laugh at his joke,” and, “A man’s definition of a serious relationship is ‘OK, I will spend the night here.’?”

But gender roles are changing. American journalist Hanna Rosin claims that traditional patriarchy is turning into matriarchy. In her book “The End of Men,” she discusses the “gold miss” trend in Korea in detail. She wrote that Korean men are understandably still in shock as Korean women transformed from full-time homemakers to busy superwomen in just one generation. Many statistics support the idea of a matriarchal society. For instance, 41.7 percent of those who passed the national bar examination last year were women.

There are not many jobs left in which men have a comparative edge. The dream lifestyle of a modern man is to marry a pharmacist or a doctor, work out at the gym during the day, and help his wife close the pharmacy or office in the evening.

Ewha Womans University Prof. Choe Jae-chun is a man but has a cold-hearted analysis.

“Men should not panic as women have gone through this for the last 10,000 years,” he advises. “In the 250,000 years of human history, men had hegemony only in the last 10,000 years.”

Nevertheless, a solid glass ceiling still exists above women. So Saenuri Party lawmaker Chung Mong-joon recently submitted a regulation that, if approved, would require that 30 percent of executives be women in five years’ time. I discussed the bill with a female coworker, but she was not thrilled about the revision. Companies need to provide women with an environment in which they can balance work with child care, she said, and also pointed to needed changes in overtime policy and the nation’s infamous drinking culture. She also explained that she wouldn’t feel comfortable becoming an executive if her promotion came due to the quota, not because of her work.

At any rate, we’re at the start of a new trend. Since Norway first passed a bill in 2003 requiring that enterprises fill 40 percent of their boards with women, the quota system has been adopted by other European companies, too. But in Korea, there are now quotas for male applicants at teachers’ colleges. Someday, we may need legislation that requires a certain percentage of male board members. I am concerned about this trend, as I have only two sons.

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun
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