Imagine there is a guy attending a class of Women’s Studies at Ewha, being isolated in a classroom swarmed with female students and a female professor. Most people would pity the male student, who is likely to feel alienated by women colleagues and the course’s feminine contents.
However, that is not the case for the male students who attend the course, Introduction to Women’s Studies at Ewha. Male students, mostly from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), scribble their notes fastidiously as the professor explains the concept of sex and feminism, yet mysteriously appear relaxed and comfortable as any other female students in the classroom.
The Introduction to Women’s Studies is one of the courses offered by Women’s Studies at Ewha which opened for the first time in Korea in 1977. Women’s Studies of Ewha teaches students how society has emphasized male hegemony throughout its history and the prejudice towards women which was received by the male-dominant society.
Whether aware or unaware of this, students, including males, outside of Ewha come to attend the classes due to the class’ reputation. As the number of students outside of Ewha who take Women’s Studies courses increases, various episodes of those students occurred as well.
Though difficult at first, male students generally adapt well to the female-dominant environment of Women’s Studies class.
“As I merrily arrived at Ewha to attend my first class of Introduction to Women’s Studies, a herd of women hurriedly dashed towards the front gate with the ‘click clacking’ sounds of their high heels ringing misery in my ears,” said Kim Tae-hyeon (POSTECH, 4). “It was ‘raining women’ everywhere with no sight of men, and I knew from that sight that I had to somehow survive in this female-orientated environment,” Kim said. “With drops of sweat dripping across my red cheeks, I began to imagine my female classmates thinking of me as stupid for attending the class. In reality, however, the female students seemed apathetic towards the fact that I was male, so I naturally adjusted to female-orientated atmosphere,” Kim said.
Kim recalled watching an independent film during the class named “Variety Survival Talk Show,” which approaches the problems of sexual assault in female’s perspective, as his memorable experience.
“I felt the insufferable pain and agony after watching the movie. Females had to undergo great suffering after being victimized by a male sex offender. The film was such as shock that when I was meeting my friends, at the most random moment, I suddenly blurted out how maliciously cruel male sex offenders are for feeling no guilt of their actions,” Kim said.
Despite positive aspects of attending the classes as a male student, they often experience some uncomfortable events during the course.
“The film about the male sex offenders generalizes that all males, including myself, are sex offenders. It’s as if I’m held as a sinful culprit for a crime that I never committed,” said Lee Jong-won (POSTECH, 4). Despite some of the awkwardness and uneasy feelings as one kind of minorities in Ewha’s Women’s Studies class, most of the male students recommend others to take the course, learn how to understand the other sex and enjoy it.
“Women’s Studies is a rather interesting course which both males and females would enjoy. Its courses increase awareness of female discrimination and help students to affiliate to the struggles women experience,” Lee said. “Men should have no fear towards Women’s Studies, but approach it as endeavoring on an exciting adventure,” Lee said.