On May 17, 2016, a 34-year-old man stabbed a 23-year-old woman to death after hiding in a public bathroom, waiting for a random victim to wander in on her own. The murderer’s misogynic stance was pointed out as the main motive, resulting in a wave of condolences for the victim not merely as a murdered individual but as a symbolic victim of sexism and misogyny pervasive in the Korean society. This, in turn, has spurred an eruption of various feminist movements to rise above the surface, making feminism one of the key words in discussing recent social issues.
However, feminist movements of today seem to be facing more than one problem. One of the biggest problems would be that feminism being a comparatively new field of study, there exists hardly any precedents as to how to organize and categorize itself. Another common obstacle it faces is that some approaches made by feminist activists have been distorted into seeming too aggressive or too difficult for the general crowd. Such phenomenon has infused some people with the stereotyope that feminism is a narrow-minded, uncompromising and “men-hating” practice that aims to deny men’s rights and cause gender conflicts.
However, feminism is not an embarrassingly aggressive fad that urges all women to harbor a grudge against the entire male gender, as some mistakenly think. The term “feminism” is defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the all genders,” the key word being “equality.” The ultimate goal of feminist activities is to achieve equality and harmony between the two halves of humankind, and to one by one erasing the problems that rise due to gender inequality, eventually creating a better world for both parties. Feminism, in short, may be a stepping stone to achieving social equality not only in Korea but around the world.
Ewha has a long history of playing a critical role in securing women’s rights and education in Korea, ever since a then nameless female missionary opened her first class for a single student in 1886. It taught women to be someone more than good housewives, during an era when such vocation was the only kind expected of women. It has nurtured the first female figures in law, sports, medicine, and many more. The school should continue dispatching into the world well-trained female pioneers, and as it does so, it should also teach them to be mature feminists, thus contributing to bridging the gap between men and women and creating a fairer society.