It is women’s issue

MDIV 515: Power Privilege and Difference

Seong Hui Bark(Moogoo)

Reflection Paper

Reflect on your reaction to text or person

We watched Tedtalk about gender. After I finished watching first one titled: ‘Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue’, I really wanted to ask the male classmates like this: ‘How do you feeling about the talk? Whether they agree or not? Do they willing try to change men’s behaviors or not?’ Honestly, I was shocked by the talk since I never thought that men can help to reduce sex abuse or any kind of violence against women by changing their thinking. Can it be possible? I am really doubtful about it since I was only educated by thinking about what women can do to reduce public or domestic sex abuse or violence.

For example, when I was in the MA program at the University of Dongguk, there were a lot of special lectures or events for BA, MA and PHD students every semester. Sometimes the lectures would be held only for BA or MA students. One day, I saw a banner titled: ‘Sex Education for BA Female Student’. I did not want to attend the lecture since I was 30 years old or something at that time. However, I had a meeting with my lay friend who was an assistant to the instructor who gave the above lecture after the event. I went to the convention hall 20 minutes before the end of the lecture. Outside of the hall, there were no chairs so I decided to enter the room that the instructor was giving her speech. When I just entered the room, the instructor asked to audience: ‘Do you know why women was abused by men?” nobody answered and she said that ‘Because women did not say ‘Do not do that, I do not want it’ and continuously she explained the reason why women did not say it is because they did not have a chance to practice it before this happens for real. She suggested to the audience to repeat what she said loudly at that time such as ‘Do not touch my hip’, ‘Do not touch my waist’, ‘Do not touch my breast’, ‘Do not do that’, and ‘I do not want it’. In the confusion of the moment, I loudly spoke aloud the above statements following the instructor’s statements. In conclusion, she strongly convinced us that ‘Women must change their behaviors in order to prevent sex abuse or violence caused by men.’ I had a really good impression about her lecture I regretted that I did not attend the whole lecture. Because of this lecture, I thought that it is true that if women change and express their feelings of violence, men’s behaviors would be change. However, Violence Against Women—it’s a men’s issue: Jackson Katz makes me think whether it can be men’s issue or not.

Response to your inner/outer reactions

I still wonder how do my male classmates think about the Jackson’s talk whether they agree or not? I should have asked those questions to them in the class because I barely agree that violence against women is a men’s issue. It has to be women’s issue and I have two stories to support this but I think I should use only one since I have written too long these days.

I forgot about the lecture since I did not think it would happen to me in my life. One day, I rode the subway during the day in Seoul and I do not remember where I was heading to at that time. There were not a lot of passengers in my cabin and most of them sat on the seat. I also sat at the edge of the seat and I saw one passenger who sat diagonally from me coming towards me, stood in front of me and started talking about the Bible. I was a little uncomfortable that he was in front of me and talked about religion. After some time, he asked questions why I became a Buddhist nun at a young age and started yelling little at me about my decision to become a nun. At that time, I looked around and found that most passengers around me were men. The man suddenly stepped forward to me and little leaned his head to me. I could feet him threatening me so I said: ‘I do not want to talk about it now’ with a soft voice unlike how I practiced when I was at the sex education lecture. As soon as I finished with what I said, the man who was sitting next to me stood up and blocked the man in front of me using his right arm and the man who was sitting across from me came forward and bump the man’s shoulder and told him that I had said that I did not want to talk about it with him. The man who was threatening me and I were both surprised at that time. I could not clearly understand what was happening at that moment. I guess because of the two men’s angry faces, the threatening man got off at the next station right away. I thanked the two men and show my appreciation. After that, I talked to the man sitting next to me until I arrived at my destination. He first started talking about when he saw the protestant man coming to me, he was really uncomfortable too but he could not say anything because he did not know about my feelings whether I am ok or not. When the protestant man leans in on me, he started hesitating whether to intervene or not. Actually, he wanted to but was not sure at the time until he could hear my voice expressing that I did not want to talk about it. That statement gave him encouragement to do what he needed to do and he knew I was not comfortable with that situation. It seemed like the sex education lecturer was really correct; when I spoke out my feelings, the violence stopped right away.

Integrating the reading for the week

“Be the person at the bus stop that steps in when they see a woman being harassed or be the person on the bus that stands up and says it is not okay because our voices are the loudest when we raise them together.”

Everyday sexism: Laura Bates: Ted Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhjsRjC6B8U&feature=youtu.be

Jackson Katz said that violence against women is men’s issue but I insist it is still a women’s issue. In the case of my encounter in the subway, the two helpful men knew the situation was uncomfortable but they could not interrupt until they clearly felt that I needed help. I mean, the two men did not help until I said something. Secondly, I was educated on how to protect myself in public, to speak up of how I am feeling now which helped me escape the situation, therefore education helped me. Thirdly, if the two men did not help me, I believed that the threatening man would still be shocked because I spoke up for myself and maybe that could have stopped him from asking uncomfortable questions. The sex education lecture changed my behavior in dealing with being uncomfortable in public. Therefore, I assert that it is still women’s issue. At first, women have to be educated about sex, human right, responsibility of life and etc. Second, women confidently have to show their power, wisdom and loving-kindness. Third, when women have both of the above, they should speak out to men who do violence against women; “do not do that”, “I do not want it” are what Laura Bates said but at that time, definitely women do not need men’s power to help themselves since women already have their own power.

A Korean proverb says “It’s the thirsty man who digs the well.” I think men do not need to dig the well since it is the women that thirst for it. Women have to be wise; they should not wait for others to dig the well or think it is men’s work. Women have to take action with subjectivity. When they need to, they just do it and not wait for society to change. If women need to ask for men’s help, they should be allowed to ask for it freely, not having to beg for it. Women have to wake up and speak out for women’s right loudly. In my experience, if women do not change, then nobody bothers to dig the well; so women have to see clearly the reality that it is still women’s issue.

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