MANILA — “Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982” is solely 163 pages lengthy. Ordinarily, I might end that many pages in a sitting or two, however Cho Nam-joo’s runaway bestseller packs a lot reality, a lot energy in every web page that I felt drained after ending just a few, and located myself needing a breather once in a while.
It doesn’t assist that the primary character is solely a 12 months older than I’m making it simpler for me to narrate to a few of her experiences.
It took me two weeks to complete the novel, and greater than a month to get this text achieved. In between breaks, I discovered myself reflecting by myself encounters with sexism as a Filipino lady.
Jiyoung is 33 years outdated in the beginning of the novel and lives a lifetime of excellent ordinariness. The writer takes us by Jiyoung’s on a regular basis struggles with gender discrimination throughout each section of her life in modern-day South Korea. In reality, she has already been discriminated towards even earlier than she was born as Korean households want having boys over women.
This every day brush with discrimination takes an enormous toll on Jiyoung’s psychological well being. She descends into insanity and begins displaying indicators of dissociative id dysfunction — she begins appearing just like the completely different girls in her life. Indeed, there is no higher metaphor for the affect of gender discrimination on many ladies than what occurs to her. Jiyoung is everywoman. And each lady, not simply in South Korea however all over the place, should have skilled misogyny and sexism not less than just a few occasions of their lives. This additionally explains why the novel is a global bestseller, as a result of the truths it carries resonate with so many ladies internationally.
Reading “Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982” is not so completely different from perusing a case examine, with Cho’s spare prose highlighting the triteness of Jiyoung’s existence that is so constricted, so burdened by the unbelievable social expectations on girls like her. The footnotes additional add a layer of veracity to what we already know to be the truth for innumerable girls.
The novel took South Korea by storm. Immensely popular but additionally immensely polarizing, the slim quantity was a scorching subject of debate with Jung Yumi, the actress who performed the titular function within the film adaptation, receiving 1000’s of hate feedback on her Instagram account. Okay-pop celebrity Irene of Red Velvet was cyberbullied, with some followers even burning her photographs, when she briefly talked about having learn the guide throughout a fan meet. Critics argued that the novel solely fanned the hearth of long-lingering tensions between Korean women and men.
Filipino girls, maybe, don’t have it as arduous as our South Korean counterparts. In the 2020 Global Gender Gap report of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Philippines ranked sixteenth, nonetheless the best in Asia. The area’s largest economies — Japan, South Korea, and China — are nonetheless on the backside rung.
This doesn’t imply that we now have closed the gender hole although, as a result of regardless of rating the best within the area, we dropped eight enormous notches from the eighth spot in 2018. In spite of narrowing the hole within the labor, well being, and training sectors, the Philippines noticed the hole widening in political empowerment. The WEF attributed this to the considerably decrease feminine illustration in President Rodrigo Duterte’s cupboard.
We needn’t look right into a report back to know that gender discrimination is nonetheless very a lot part of the quotidian in Philippine society. Every day, many Filipino girls are subjected to discrimination be it on the workplace, on the streets, even at residence, each in actual life and on-line. Even celebrities will not be spared the whip of rampant misogyny and sexism (e.g. Frankie Pangilinan, Liza Soberano, Julia Barretto).
During a dialog with good buddy Dr. Teresa Paula S. de Luna, affiliate professor on the UP Diliman division of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts and Director of the University’s Office of Anti-Sexual Harassment, I requested what her ideas are on the mentioned report and the sexism confronted by Filipino girls.
“I think this report is largely based on the positions of power that women hold in our country,” de Luna mentioned. “It does look like it is a positive factor for us, however, what may be not looked into are how most women and the other vulnerable genders in our society handle the day to day oppressions.”
Indeed, Filipino girls have already made strides in asserting our rights, and different genders appear to be largely accepting and supportive. However, a better inspection reveals that the identical battles that Jiyoung fought are the exact same ones that we’re nonetheless attempting to defeat, particularly beneath this present administration the place sexism and misogyny typically goes unchecked and unpunished, generally even acquired with resounding applause.
When requested if she nonetheless believes the day will come when the gender hole is lastly closed, de Luna answered, “For me, there can never be equality. All genders, women and men, can never be equal. There are things we can do that men cannot, etc. However, gender should not be a cause or reason for oppression. Having less opportunities because we are women is a form of oppression; experiencing sexual harassment because we are women is a form of oppression. So yes, it is evident that women are oppressed habitually.”
“Closing the gender gap means practicing, performing what empowers us and seriously penalizing those who oppress us. We have laws already that aim to eventually create a culture that promotes empowerment, however, either these are ignored or not taken seriously. Closing the gender gap means all sectors supporting one another to close the gap. If it is just one sector that is fighting the cause, nothing will come out of it. It is imperative to hear the voices of MEN fighting for WOMEN and all types of gender, especially since they are perceived to be the most privileged gender.”
It might appear to be a idiot’s hope, however I stay optimistic that the solar will shine on that day when there are fewer, if in any respect, Kim Jiyoungs on the earth. For now, the battle towards misogyny and sexism continues, and one of the best recourse as in most battles is to maintain combating.