One of the things that I anticipate most about being a legal adult is to be able to get a driver's license and go anywhere I want to. Even though the developed transportation system allows me to reach any place that I want to, it is a completely different story when it comes to owning an automobile: it means freedom. So for students like my friends and I, it is hard to imagine the life that the women in Saudi Arabia had gone through for generations. It has just been the September of 2017 when the Saudi Arabian monarch announced a royal decree that women would be able to drive themselves without a male accompanying them starting from June 2018.
Media centers like the NewYork time considers to be this an action to counter the international community's scrutiny against Saudi Arabia's gender inequality issues. The ban of women from driving have been deteriorating the country's image for a long time; even one of its closest ally, the United States of America, to openly disagree with this policy. The government also expected this change in policy to encourage women into heightened economical activities. In the past when women were not allowed to drive cars, they had to use most of their salary on appointing drivers and paying their male relatives to take them for rides. Now with this leftover money, women would be able to become a more proficient actor in society.
Midst of all the happiness of influx of women filling driver's license test centers and buying new cars, it is hard to neglect the unfortunate truth. The Saudi Arabian administration had opposed to women driving because of the Sharia Law. They believe that men would lose control of 'their' women and when women are more given freedom, it would somehow be easier to get involved in promiscuous behavior and infidelity. Because of international pressure, Saudi Arabia did give in to this part of social inequality, but it is still a mystery if consequent changes would happen to ultimately alleviate women's status in the Saudi Arabian society. For now, international action, even as extreme as sanctions, seems like the only way to instigate the ultraconservative Middle Eastern country to change.
Afghanistan has always been perceived as country where women are discriminated, tortured, and looked down upon. This allegations are majorly true since reports from the Human Rights Watch say that members of the Parliament are actively speaking against the ratification of Elimination of Violence Against Women Rights (EVAW) and amending the law to remove the provisions against child marriage. Still, ever since the Taliban regime was removed in 2001, women rights conditions are gradually improving under the provision of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. And most recently, we now see a positive future for Afghan women as their leader recently publicly made an apology regarding his speech about women’s headscarves.
On December 2nd, the president expressed allegations that some high governmental officials have connections with the Islamic State. What he said created controversy. Ashraf Ghani claimed that if officials refuse to provide evidence to prove their innocence, they should wear women’s headscarves as an indication. Civil social and women's rights activists showed their outrage in social media demanding that the president apologize for his statement. The fact that the leader addressed headscarves in an inferior context when he is a leader of a majority Muslim nation simply did not make sense. Free Women Writers, an organization that supports women writers in Afghanistan, said in disappointment, “Who can be the hope for Afghan women when their president thinks being a women as as well as womanhood is embarrassing?” Repeated criticism from the female community tacitly forced the president to admit his mistake and explicitly apologize. He said that the word “Chaadar” has been misinterpreted as scarves in English and stressed that he has been an active women's rights advocate himself. This is true. It is the unfortunate truth that Afghan women’s rights issues have only been portrayed in a biased manner; media tend to neglect the improvements they have been making. President Ghani is currently engendering systematic changes by transforming laws and create conditions. Importantly, now that women have easier access to education, there is a high chance for them to get individual jobs, get loans and own property, and protect themselves from abuse.
It is possible that the international community might not understand why the women community is enraged by their President’s statement. The international community consider the headscarves as a burden, another factor that differentiates women from men. Yet, for Muslim women this is not true. For them, the scarves are a part of their identity; something they feel proud of. It is of high importance that we continue to take notice on the positive changes Afghanistan is making towards women's rights advocate and make sure that problems such women abuses in the Islamic State ultimately become absolved as well.
Even though, the whole world recognizes the human rights abuses that repeatedly happen within North Korea, it is for the first time that the United Nations specifically focused on North Korean women rights. Such horrendous actions were thankfully revealed by Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization that conducts research on human rights abuses and raises awareness about a wide range of problems so that direct changes can be made by other NGOs. After Human Rights Watch made a statement regarding this issue, now the international community expects The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to conduct measures that exerts pressure on the North Korean government to ensure that the camp’s guards and security officials cease women rights violations. Already the UN has planned on meeting with the North Korean government officials on November 8, 2017 during its 68th plenary session, but it is still a mystery as to if the monarchy government would actually admit to these allegations.
It is actually extremely irresponsible for North Korea to be suspected with these allegations
because they have already ratified the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2001. Governments which ratify the CEDAW are obligated to send periodic reports on their efforts to eradicate women discrimination; however, the North Korean government was only diligent enough to send two reports between 2002-2005. In recent replies sent in at April 2016, North Korea claimed that “all legal proceedings are carried out in full compliance with the law.... The process of investigations and preliminary examinations is tape-recorded or video-taped, interrogation of the examinee is conducted with the attendance of a clerk and if need be, two observers, thus preventing investigators and preliminary examiners from committing abuse of power or violations of human rights.”
Despite what they say in the reports, we are inclined to rely on these reports because Human Rights Watch was able to interview eight of the women who experienced both psychological, physical, and sexual abuse during their confinement at the detention camps. The women claim that they have been repeatedly abused by the security officers or police interrogators. As the evidence of human rights violations is now so evident, CEDAW should take more decisive actions even though North Korea is denying any of these claims.
It is very unfortunate that most of the media and international organizations focus on the military offenses of North Korea. The interest of many state leaders was how to prevent North Korea from developing their nuclear program or how to develop weapons that exceed the capacity of the North Korean arm race. It is now time for us to avert our attention to the innocent people within this unstable regime who suffer from human rights abuses. Women are always naturally discriminated against which is why women rights should always be monitored under strict systems to prevent immoral people from mistreating women.
The most common controversy in society in South Korea is easily referred as “gender war”. Specifically, a vicious public debate about the country’s entrenched misogyny has ignited a gender war.
Misogyny, a severe contempt against women, is noticed in the recent murder of a young woman in Gangnam district in Seoul, South Korea. The murder occurred at a public toilet of a Karaoke bar. The man stabbed to death a woman he had never met before. Later, when the murderer was caught, he claimed that he killed an innocent woman because all the women have always ignored and humiliated him. The killer’s absurd reason and justification for his brutal murder is an apparent source of misogyny. The case of the crime in Gangnam has brought feminists out to the street. Feminists actively protested against the entrenched misogyny and gender inequality in South Korea.
Such protests of feminists have sparked counter protests from men’s right defenders. They felt that they were unfairly attacked. Men’s right defenders asserted that Gangnam murder case cannot be evidence for growing misogyny in South Korea since the murder was by a schizophrenic homeless man. No matter what the actual cause was—very likely a combination of factors—the public response has focused on the misogynistic anger expressed by the murderer, which has laid deeper issues ingrained in gender relations. In response to the growing feminist movement in Korea, Korean men are now complaining that they are being discriminated. Contentious debate between feminists and men’s right defenders led to violent protests against each other.
A young woman’s tragedy brought to light the unspoken injustice that all women should bear challenges in the society with rising misogyny and gender inequality. In fact, numerous popular culture terms are designed to refer women and jeer their misconducts. For instance, a term ‘soybean paste girl’ refers to a young woman who is obsessed about Western cultures. On the same note, a term ‘Kimchi’ is widely used as a synonym for ‘gold digger’. Considering that such terms are extensively used to target women and there are not many terms that refer to men, feminists assert that this is another sign of misogyny and gender inequality in South Korea.
Despite all the presumptions and possible evidence for misogyny, one fact is crystal clear. In general, women in South Korea are not equally treated as men. According to OECD statistics, Korea has the biggest gender wage gap among OECD nations. Moreover, it is relatively challenging for women to receive promotion in job places. In fact, the idea of Confucianism led to the embedded gender inequality in South Korea. In other words, it will be very challenging to change the deeply ingrained stereotypes against women in Korean society. The first step to resolving the gender inequality is to cease the gender war.
Women’s lives in China have been significantly reformed over decades. China’s attempt to ameliorate women’s situations was shown in 1995 when the 4th World Women’s Conference was held in Beijing. The final platform of the conference included groundbreaking policies that explicitly protected women’s rights and anticipated significant changes in women’s lives. The platform ensured lifetime health care and education for women, improvement of workplace conditions, the increase of employment equality, and more. Moreover, it also acknowledged women’s contributions to the family and condemned any violent actions against women.
Despite China’s series of attempts, several critics recently voiced their concerns about China’s stance on women’s rights, showing skepticism about China’s actions for feminism.
Most notably, in 2015, prior to the summit meeting to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Women’s Conference in Beijing and the day before International Women’s Day, Chinese authorities seized five active feminists because they were targeted as core members of a nascent organized feminist movement in China. The detainees are known for their work on women’s and LGBT rights and include some who have launched eye-catching, imaginative stunts to gain public attention. Although the women were released a week later, they faced restrictions in terms of work, life, and freedom of action. Knowing that the imprisonment occurred just before the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the women’s conference, critics doubt the credibility of China when it claims it is helping women and state that this is an "unexpected and distressful retrogression" since the 4th World Women's Conference.
Nonetheless, China’s UN ambassador made a recent statement on Women’s rights that reflect China’s conscientious national interest in women’s rights. The following are excerpts from Liu Jieyi’s recent statement in 2013 at the Security Council Open Debate on Women and Peace and Security.
“The international community should not only be concerned with protecting women’s safety and upholding their rights and interests in conflict and post-conflict situations...the various United Nations bodies and entities should work in accordance with their respective mandates, with a clear division of labour and as one.
First, it is national Governments that have the primary responsibility to protect women’s safety and their rights and interests.
Secondly, the Security Council should play its unique role fully, while strengthening its coordination and cooperation with related organizations and agencies.
Thirdly, strengthening the rule of law represents both an important link in post-conflict peacebuilding efforts and an important foundation for safeguarding and upholding women’s rights and interests.
Fourthly, the effective participation of women is an important foundation for realizing sustainable peace and social stability.”
Although China is showing consistent action in amending women’s rights at both a national and international level, constant criticisms from Chinese feminists have put China on the spot and led international communities to doubt China’s commitment to women’s rights. International skepticism has also limited China’s right to attend conferences related to women’s rights issues.
Today, the term “Feminism” has become highly prevalent. Feminism is a belief that was coined and appeared around the mid early 1800s. It embraces the belief that women should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men. Feminism also embraces the belief that all people are entitled to freedom and liberty. For few centuries, Feminism has revolved around political, cultural, and social movements, giving off profound effects to women.
Fortunately, Feminism is on the rise among teenage girls. According to the survey done in Britain, 69% of girls age 13 to 18 answered "yes" to the question, "Would you personally define as a feminist?" This figure is even more significant when contrasted with 46% of British adult women who answered “yes” to the same question. On the same note, an additional survey done in the United States found that 63% of women age 18 to 34 identify as feminist. These days, more young women identify themselves as feminists.
Granted, influential figures who have imbued the younger generation with the interest and passion in Feminism. Further, the term “Feminism” is often used in fashion, stationeries, and so forth.
Yet, the society’s endeavor to instill Feminism in the current society may have guided younger generation to misconstrue the true definition of a feminist. In any cases, Feminism is not interchangeable with Sexism. Unlike sexists who attempt to degrade the opposite sex, feminists do not try to mistreat men, but rather receive equal compensation, opportunities and treatment. Feminists aim to empower women, bring hope, and to enact meaningful change. They confront the societal stereotypes against both women and men, and fight for equal treatment.
Our effort to imbue the younger generation with a valid and alive movement, Feminism, should not terminate. We should ensure that all youth are construing the factual definition of Feminism and thus further expand its belief.
1. The Hunger Games (2012)
It is very likely that everyone had heard about “The Hunger Games” somehow. Starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, this movie won’t fail to reach your expectations regarding the depiction of female characters.
2. Gravity (2013)
Two astronauts get lost in space and work together to survive. It does sound similar to any other space movies, but don’t judge a book by its cover. This movie will offer you an extraordinary experience in space followed by Sandra Bullock’s flawless acting as a protagonist Ryan Stone.
3. Mad Max (2015)
Charlize Theron as Furiosa. An Oscar winning film. And guess what? You won’t be frowning at sexist scenes while watching this film.
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Yes, Star Wars. No reason not to watch this film. With Daisy Ridley as Rey, the new female protagonist, our beloved franchise continues to broaden its horizon with better depiction of female characters. For some they will feel nostalgic from previous series, and for some who have never watched any Star Wars movie before, it will be a mind-blowing film.
5. Suffragette (2016)
“Suffragette” tells the story of working class women during the suffragette movement in UK. Its sophisticated depiction of discrimination towards women during the era will let you experience the days before feminism.
6. Miss Sloane (2016)
Female characters often had to have a certain reason or a motive for their desire, and the roles without a specific cause for the impulse were often given to male actors. However, in “Miss Sloane”, Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a cold-blooded lobbyist who is only concerned for her own objective. The film does not try to convince the audience of her motive; it centralizes on her moves done to fulfill her aspiration. Anyone who wants to watch a well-made thriller should choose this film.
7. Hidden Figures (2017)
This film tells an untold story of the female African-American mathematicians who made vital contributions in NASA during the 60’s space competition. Led by 3 POC female actors, it successfully reaches its goal of representing the segregation and discrimination occurred during the 60’s.
8. Wonder Woman (2017)
A first female superhero movie directed by a female director. Pretty symbolic, huh? It tells a story of Diana, and her journey of becoming Wonder Woman after leaving her home Themyscira. The action scenes done by Gal Gadot, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright and many other talented female actors will make you shiver.
9. Okja (2017)
Directed by Bong Joon Ho and starring Tilda Swinton, “Okja” will make you laugh, smile and cry. The movie is brilliantly led by two female leads, exploring animal rights and the controversial technology developments.
10. Atomic Blonde (2017)
Starring Charlize Theron as an undercover MI6 agent, this new film will let you experience the new horizon of female-led action and spy movie.
11 male students in Inha University Medical College were ordered a reprimand in August, for
their sexual harassments toward fellow female medical students in a secret online group
chatroom; 5 of them were suspended from school for an indefinite period and 6 of them were
suspended for 90 days. The sexual harassments were mainly consisted of assessing female
students’ appearances and judging whether they are attractive enough to have a sexual
relationship with. The tone and the content of their online chats were primarily based on their
perspective toward women, treating female students as a nonhuman tool existing solely for their
sexual pleasure, which nevertheless derived from misogyny rampant in today’s Korean society.
It has been discovered that the female victims had to be in the same classroom with the
assaulters for four months until an internal investigation by the medical student council was
done and the assaults were informed to Inha University. Even now, after disciplinary actions are
taken, the victims are confronted with taking same classes with the assaulters, for the assailants
have filed a suit for an injunction against reprimands ordered by Inha University. In their petition,
the assailants stated that “It is common to talk about opposite sex in a place only consisting
male students,” and also that “Male students in their early 20s had a survey-like chat about
fellow female students in the medical school who they all know of, under the influence of liquor.”
The female students in Inha Medical College put on a hand-written poster on the college
building of the assaulter’s sexual harassment and are planning to turn in a petition to a relevant
The inauguration of President Trump in January once again evoked massive displeasure among the United States citizens. The official confirmation of President Trump also led hundreds and thousands of women to step out and voice their message. Approximately 4 million marchers came out to the street. The participants were not defined by gender, age or ethnicity—or any other typical identifier. The size of the participants is estimated to be three times the size of the crowd that attended President Trump’s inauguration the day before.
If the vast majority of the United States citizens are dissatisfied, why is the event called a “Women’s March”?
President Trump has consistently made sexist comments. For instance, he called a female lawyer who was trying to breastfeed her daughter disgusting. When he met a female journalist, he commented, “It really doesn’t matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass." President Trump’s inappropriate and offensive comments toward women carried out serious outrage among women.
Political scientists remark that the Women’s march is the largest day of protests in the United States History. During the march, hundreds of thousands of participants held signs like “Not my president,” “Women are people,” “Lives matter,” and more. The participants wore pink hats, which derived from “Pussy Hat Project.” The initiator of the project, Krista Suh, wanted to something more than just appearing on the day of the march. Primarily, she wanted to keep herself warm at the same time. Hence, the knitters started crafting pink hats with cat ears, a reference to Trump’s vulgar statements about grabbing women’s genitals, which were revealed in a leaked video shortly before the election.
Although most of the public believe the core message of the march is “anti-Trump,” it turns out that Women’s march meant much more than an “anti-Trump” action. The march’s essential principles call for: freedom from sexual violence, comprehensive reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, gender and racial equalities within the criminal justice system, and more. This is why the event is referred as a “rally” or “march” instead of “protest.”
It all started with the hashtag, #영화계_내_성폭력 (#Sexual_abuse_in_film_industry). In October, this hashtag started to trend on Twitter, and thousands of the victims’ exposures were out for public. It consisted verbal abuse and physical abuse, including physical contact without consent. (If you want to read about more personal experiences, go to http:// shootingfemi2016.blogspot.kr/. It archives the tweets by the victims explaining about sexual abuse in film industry.) Korean film magazine Cine 21 has published a series of interviews and articles about this situation in the industry. Many of the directors, staffs, and actors/actresses in the article pointed out that it was resulted from the prevalent sexism and misogyny in the Korean film industry, and the hierarchal relations within the filming crew. Since the absolute majority of female workers are forced to stop their career after marriage or having baby, following the dominant gender role in Korean society as housewives, many of the female filming crew members still in the industry are minority and have no power in the filming ground. Many of the victims are afraid of the backlash they might receive after they publicize the sexual abuse: exclusion from the movie pool and damage on their status in the industry. Therefore, sexual abuse has been prevalent without any punishment in the pool. Sexism and misogyny in Korean culture also plays a major role in justifying sexual abuse. Women are forced to have self- censorship on theirselves since early childhood, whereas men are excluded from that responsibility. It produces a menacing gap as victims are accused of sharing a responsibility of the sexual harassment, by giving the assailants a chance of sexually abusing the victims. Also, actresses are expected to be cooperative in sexually humiliating situations which were not preliminarily informed, like filming a bed scene with male staffs around. This absolute power given to men are accepted with tacit agreement of the major filming crew, who are male. However, some changes has been made after the hashtag received limelight from the media. The Directors Guild of Korea, DGK, has made a statement that they denounce all the sexual abuse in the film industry, and promised to create a special organization for supporting the victims and the suspension of the assailants who are in DGK. Still, it needs more attention and support from the public to truly embellish the prevalent sexism and sexual abuse in film industry.