Living in a male-dominated societyIf there is a virtual censor reading this column, please do not put a “19 or over” label. I am not talking about sex, but I do want to discuss the awareness of sex. I believe that excessive stoicism makes the sex issue shadier.
So let’s get to the point. In August, the Constitutional Court made its first decision on sexual products. An adult supplies shop owner raised the suit, arguing that the criminal law on the sale of obscene material infringes upon human dignity, and the value and the pursuit of happiness of the products’ users. The Constitutional Court ruled that the related laws are constitutional: “Not all sex toys are prohibited, but the ones that are recognized as obscene goods are banned.”
We need to pay attention to the two Supreme Court decisions that were discussed within the Constitutional Court. A sex toy for women that resembles male genitalia is legal as “it cannot be deemed as a product that stimulates and satisfies sexual drive” in a decision in October 2000. In contrast, a toy for men resembling what the Constitutional Court described as a female body part was ruled illegal as “it could stimulate and excite the sex drive by looking at it and arouse sexual humiliation” in a May 2003 decision.
A lawyer explained, “In the U.S. Supreme Court, they say, ‘I know it when I see it.’ That standard is very vague, but that’s what the male judges saw. There was an exception in Gwangju District Court three months ago. A female judge ruled the owner of sex toys for men innocent.”
The double decisions may be a litmus test showing the inevitable bias of the male judges. Coincidentally, single men are suffering as a result.
The military is another example of a male-oriented aspect of society.
A female ROTC candidate of Dankook University visited the Powerhouse of Future Korea, an association of young voters, last summer. She asked, “Why can’t I join the Marines?” Policy director Kim Mi-jin said, “Her father and brother were Marines. It was her dream to join the Marines since childhood, and many of her fellow ROTC students became officers in the Marines. She was very disappointed that she could not even apply.”
She had received the highest marks on the physical test as well. When the Powerhouse of Future Korea inquired the Marines, they sent a response that it was not provided in the code that they recruit female officers. The Powerhouse appealed again to modify the rule: “The commander in chief is a female today, and the military needs to spearhead the culture of gender equality.”
Last week, the Marines replied back that it does recognize the need to select female ROTC members, but as a small number of officers are selected for the Marines, it would analyze the circumstances in the Army, Navy and Air Force and review the selection.
If a female ROTC member joins the Marines, it would catch even more “ghosts” and appeal to the hearts of the citizens. The software is not keeping up with the hardware. Do you think it is a trivial issue? When even a single door is closed, and even a single person is blocked off by the system, the society cannot be called equal.
Evidence of objectification of women can be found all over the society. A female anchorwoman had to quit her job after her divorce suit created a stir. A female singer who became a victim of disclosure of private photos became a prey of yellow journalism. At workplaces, women are often surrounded by invisible walls. Korea still is a society dominated by male perspective and sentiment. A young female who returned from studying abroad in China compared the two societies, “In China, if a man steps on a woman’s foot, she would drag him by the collar. If the same happens in Korea, the woman would remain quiet and let it go.”
So men should not be crybabies that the era of women has come. It is still a “man’s world” until women break the last glass ceiling.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kwon Seok-cheon
More in Columns
A cautionary tale
A government in disarray
China’s thin skin
The Korean War from China’s view
Who’s laughing now?