Gender and Sexualities in East Asia

I think it is important to learn about genders and sexualities in East Asia because we can expand our knowledge on a global topic. I took one prior course on women’s study before and I wanted to learn about other countries and how they are facing these issues. I’m from Russia and we have a lot of similarities as CJK views women. When I was growing up, I grew up with the old generation understanding of “women’s duties” (housewife, caretaker), as I progress with the course I release that old generation was very sexist and bias towards women. I consider myself to be a very open person. My girlfriend and I are always equal we have same tasks, I’m not afraid to do housework or cook. Media is a big contributor to the idealism of women’s standards. In the reading by Stevi Jackson, Liu Jieyu and Woo Juhyun, “Introduction: Reflections on Gender, Modernity and East Asian Sexualities” is a clear explanation of East Asian countries and their value towards women. They see them as a housewife’s, caretakers, stay-at-home moms. In West countries the idea of women is different because it comes from a different origin in history. East Asian countries are more disciplined and strict. This is the same in Russia, I believe it is wrong how the world is bias. I think it would be interesting to see if it was the other way around, how quickly the change would happen.

P.S I think we shouldn’t blame the older generation is not the ones to blame because the idea of men being more superior come from first human days (where men were hunter and women were gatherers) (even bible portraits men more dominant-in MY opinion)

Gender and Sexuality in East Asia

I’m Japanese, so it’s important to learn genders and sexualities in East Asia because East Asian countries have serious problems about these topics, and I think I can get some hints to overcome these problems by learning these topics in Western country.

I found some parts of readings which explain what I’ve experienced in Japan, so I found them interesting. For example, “women generally retain their responsibility for domestic labour, and the ideal wife in East Asia is still expected to put husband and family.” (Reflections on Gender, Modernity and East Asian Sexualities, pg. 13) This sentence reminds me of the situation that I felt guilty when my boyfriend did some little housework when I was in his house. I felt like that because I had been taught that housework is women’s work, and women should do everything. In fact, even though both of my parents work, I can see my mother is expected to give priority to family. Some husbands like my father do housework, but they tend to be considered as they “help” their wife. In addition, the author mentions that well-paid women use the services to reduce their domestic work. (Reflections on Gender, Modernity and East Asian Sexualities, pg.13) It doesn’t refer to how well-paid women are judged by other Japanese people, however, some Japanese people regard women who use these services as lazy. Moreover, women can be criticized if they ask other people to take care of their children because of their job or other plans. The point is that people don’t criticize men but women. From reading and my own experiences, I think this kind of concept is formed by Confucianism and education.

WHY

Educating  people on gender and sexualities in East Asia is important because as we know all countries have there issues regarding gender and sexualities but many don’t take into consideration the fact that culture tends to play a major role in these issues. Learning about sexualities and gender specifically in East Asia will allow us to understand the culture therefore allowing us to help find effective ways to solve issues. I took this class because all the other women studies courses I have taken over the years only focus on American/western issues and I thought it would be interesting to find out how other societies deal with the same problems.

In, “Introduction: Reflection on Gender, Modernity, and East Asian Sexualities”, “Similarly, we should not regard East Asian practices as simply ‘lagging behind’ the West, but as products of different histories and cultures.” (16) Many criticize East Asia for its slow progress when it’s comes to sexualities and gender in compare to other societies but they aren’t aware that the tactics used in the west can’t always be used in the east Asia. It isn’t as easy to address issues in East Asia compared to the west, “ Individualism remains problematic in East Asia” meaning many aren’t comfortable or able to go against or question the norm. (16) There cultures and what is excepted differs too much to go about solving issues the same way.

To Find a Solution

As a Korean woman who is taught with the Confucianism values for the past 20 years, I believe it is important for me to learn about gender and sexualities in East Asia. First, as Asian and American Studies major concentrating on East Asia region, it is crucial to learn about various countries’ cases. Moreover, even if Korea has developed and modernized than before, I feel that women’s rights or values has a long way to go. In the media, it is reported that the rights of women and their status have upgraded, however, in the reality it is their duty that has been increased by requiring them to multitask in order to survive in the modern Confucianism society.

Before taking this class, I had a perspective that studies of gender and sexualities in East Asia are relatively late compared to the West. I thought it was late considering its strong culture and values where it is believed that women are just there to assist men. After reading Sirin Sung and Gillian Pascall’s Introduction: Gender and Welfare States in East Asia, I noticed that my perspective was actually right in a way. Especially in the part where it states, “Confucian traditions… achieve rapid economic growth. However, others downplay economic growth in favour of the disadvantages imposed, particularly in relation to gender.” From this reading, it reminded me of my mother and other women who have their own career, but still has a limit and requirements as women in the modern society. Sadly, because this is the truth, another reason that I’m taking this class is to learn more about the gender and sexualities in East Asia and hopefully find a solution to the problem what our older generations have faced and not to have that repeated in the future generations.

 

Unlearning my Socialization: Why Sexuality in Eastern Asia?

As a white woman located and educated primarily in the Western sphere of gender politics, I think it is important to learn about genders and sexualities in East Asia in order to broaden my horizons so that I can create a more inclusive and intersectional approach to my studies. I’m aware that I can’t make the assumption that the politics of America are analogous to those of Eastern Asia in how they play out and are defined so I’m undertaking this class so as to avoid any false presumptions.  In Jackson, Jieyu and Juhyun’s text, Reflections on Gender, Modernity, and East Asian Sexualities, they expand on this concern, stating how “East Asian women – over a quarter of the world’s women – have received little attention except from those with a specialist interest in the region”. Because of the stronghold the West has on global media due to a history of colonialism, I want to avoid perpetuating that power imbalance by falling into the trap of only considering its histories over other countries’. I knew that gender was a social construct and as such is interpreted differently amongst cultures but the text also taught me that ‘sexuality’ as a specific, tangible aspect of life is a recent idea as well, dating only to the late 19th century according to the Jackson text. Having these specific dates helps contextualize how what we may perceive as a static truth (ex: gender in the US) is actually a very dynamic and elastic concept that pre-dates most studies on the topic in this country’s setting.

In regards to my own relation to Eastern Asian studies, the neighborhood I grew up in was primarily occupied Korean and Chinese residents and as such, experienced that culture but through an American lens so I hope to unlearn the assumptions made because of the narrow scope I used growing up in such a setting.

Challenging Western Assumptions of Genders and Sexualities in East Asia

It is important to learn about genders and sexualities in East Asia to challenge the idea that genders and sexualities in the West are standard world-wide, and it is also necessary to learn about this specifically from people from East Asia to avoid taking away their voices and to help develop a more equal representation of all western and non-western feminisms. I am a straight white woman born and raised in New York City, so I have no direct relationship to East Asia. What I “know” about it has been how the U.S.’s media has represented it and what I’ve learned in school (which has been through a heavily western perspective), which is almost always problematic in terms of misrepresenting the actualities of lives in East Asia, and creating and upholding stereotypes and generalizations about East Asians. For me, it has been important to keep in mind that what I think I know about the region and what assumptions and opinions I have about people from there need to be challenged and unlearned, or re-learned through a non-eurocentric perspective. The most important text for me with regards to this has been Stevi Jackson, Liu Jieyu, and Woo Juhyun’s “Reflections on Gender, Modernity and East Asian Sexualities,” because of how it highlights the pervasive force of the West that can easily dominate how we perceive things if we don’t make the effort to challenge it. Their intention with the text was to open up a “potential dialogue with Western feminism” (25) that western feminists could either respond to or ignore, and as a feminist situated in the West it reminds me that I have to take an active role in listening to non-Western feminists and critically analyze my own behaviors.

-Emily Conyers

Why Genders and Sexualities in East Asia

Prior to this course I believed that any society could struggle with sexuality and gender roles. Historically it is a celebrated case that women live in a matriarchal society opposed to patriarchal like the island of Lesbos. East Asian society seemed no different to me, not due to the exoticism and stereotypes but because structurally that’s how I’ve always learned it. The reasons had struck me differently then expected though.

Intersectionality is present here in America as well as all over the world, but barriers such as language really changed my ideas on how these issues were to be addressed. In comparison the English language has a stable jargon to express sexuality and gender roles. The literal translation of western words would not surprise me to be a difficult task but descriptions that that can roughly translate similarly like sexual orientation, make it increasingly difficult to define, identify, and unify. Its consequences have lead to concept of the progressive narrative to “help” modernize East Asian concept of sexuality.

Secondly intersectionality has created a barrier to how sexuality and gender roles can be implemented in a society based on Confucian beliefs, “Confucian values and practices of gender difference persist in the context of modern welfare states with gender equality legislation” (pg.1, Pascall). To mitigate or try to diminish the Confucian influence in East Asian societies would not get rid of a western ideal of a “problem” but would be an unrealistic idea to rid a culture. Its solution would presumably be in a general unique terms with impact.