Prove there’s no gender risk, please

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Prove there’s no gender risk, please

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Lately, I was completely stunned by the expression, “gender risk.” A senior male journalist mentioned the term as we discussed President Park Geun-hye. It sounded as if the female president could be a risk factor for state administration - in other words, being a woman poses a risk as a state leader. He also said that men often say Park is struggling with a lack of communication and chaos over appointments because she is a woman.

So I asked my male colleagues if they feel the gender risk. Many of them said that times have changed, but a considerable number of them pointed out the following:

- Even pro-Park lawmakers criticize her failure to dominate the organization, and her obsession with justification and self-image seems a little strange to men.

- It seems that the president and her aides don’t know how to communicate with each other. Considering the ages of the male Blue House aides, it is highly likely that they don’t know how to communicate with their female boss.

- President Park displays some female characteristics that men find hard to understand. She talks without listening and gets upset when other people don’t listen to her, as we’ve seen in her address to the nation on March 4. She also nags her subordinates at the Blue House and in the cabinet and gives a 7,000-word order to them. Then, when she had to apologize, her apology lasted for only 17 seconds - and it was read by one of her spokespersons and in the name of chief of presidential staff.

- Lately, citizens are more worried about the administrative management style of the president than North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. It is the first time in the history of the Republic of Korea that the entire nation is so worried about the president. If a male president was so lost, he would have evoked severe criticism, not just concern. President Park is actually enjoying a gender premium.

Now, I realize how unfamiliar a female president can be. But it may be too much to consider it a risk factor. Then, I learned of the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. When I was young, she taught me that a woman can be a leader.

She fought strong opposition and addressed the “British disease” caused by excessive welfare. She also led the Falklands War and defended British sovereignty. Also, she has been domestically criticized for aggravating polarization. At any rate, it was Margaret Thatcher and her Thatcherism that rebuilt the British society, which male leaders could not save.

Thatcher was sneered at as former President Ronald Reagan’s soul mate. Her pro-American policy was criticized as she fully supported the foreign policy of Reagan, who played a major role in the fall of communism. The world is always ready to attack the femininity of female leaders anytime.

As I recalled memories of Thatcher, I realized that male and female leaders have different ideas and may take different paths to reach the same destination. Male and female leaders accomplish things in different ways, but it is not a risk factor or a reason for criticism. There is no gender risk. Now, President Park needs to prove that herself.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yang Sunny

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