Time to end the gender conflictThe June 1 local elections showed a bigger bias between male and female voters in their 30s and under than in the presidential election in March. According to joint exit polls by three terrestrial broadcasters, 65.1 percent of male voters aged 20s and under voted for candidates of the conservative People Power Party (PPP), whereas 66.8 percent of female voters in the same age group voted for candidates of the liberal Democratic Party (DP). The same prejudice was found with men and women in their 30s. The discrepancy was not so conspicuous among elder voters.
Still, politicians continued to ride on gender bias. PPP chief Lee Jun-seok acted as if he represented young men. President Yoon Suk-yeol during the campaign vowed to close the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and enable the introduction of calumny in sex crime cases. Former DP presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung called himself the “father of assertive women.” The gender conflict festering in the Moon Jae-in administration advocating women’s rights has only deepened.
To ease the conflict, the elder generation must have greater awareness of the thoughts of young people. According to a survey last year, only about 20 percent of men in their 20s and 30s believed that childcare responsibility primarily falls on mothers. Around the same ratio of women in the same age group believed that men should be the breadwinners. That means young people are more accustomed to equal gender rights than their older counterparts.
What they cannot accept is discrimination. More than 80 percent of women in their 20s and 30s felt discrimination against their sex was serious. But only about 40 percent of men in the same age group agreed with them. Women still found a glass ceiling in society while men felt they were rather discriminated against in college and job admission due to affirmative action.
Young women are fearful of crimes from sexism, while young men are disgruntled that they are denied the presumption of innocence in sex crimes. Young men or women are not particularly biased toward certain ideology, but they just favor political parties who sympathize with them more.
If such conflict is not addressed, Korea cannot resolve the young generation’s marriage aversion or low birth rate. According to a survey, young people in their 20s and 30s approve of preferential scores for military service and rehiring of women after child birth or care, regardless of their gender. Politicians must draw up measures for true gender equality. The Yoon Suk-yeol administration hastily included women in the Cabinet after being criticized for its male-focused appointments by the foreign press. Politicians must stop capitalizing on the pains of young people.