‘Random killing of a female in Gangnam Station – the murder said “because women have always ignored me.”’ ‘Top celebrity being prosecuted for sexual assault’ ‘Korean women face the thickest glass ceiling among OECD countries.’
These are the headlines often appearing in newspapers recently and they show that women are exposed to indiscriminate sexism and violence. After the crimes against women in particular, people have commented on the pervasiveness of sexual violence and gender inequality in our society. Some strongly are demanding proper measures of the government and the National Assembly. However, there are only words, not actions trying to change the situation. It is not easy to take actions, but words are not enough. So, here is a movie that may urge us to act.
"No Surrender, Never Give Up to Fight"
The movie Suffragettes starts with several men’s speeches full of stereotypes about the opposite gender, taking place in early 20th century London. The main character ‘Maud Watts’ identifies herself as a good wife and a good mother. She works in a laundromat and is paid for 13 shillings (old British money), while her co-working husband Sonny gets 19. It is even implicitly taken for granted that female workers have to endure sexual insults from the owner. Based on such social background, a radical movement arose centrally among high-class women and they organized a Women's Social and Political Union, calling themselves 'suffragette'.
One day, Maud testifies for the working environment of female laborers to the Prime Minister. She and the suffragettes were in a hopeful mood to hear that women's right to vote was assured by men, but it did not last long. Women became angry with the Prime Minister neglecting their status and the police using excessive force to disperse them. Decisively seeing her husband justifies the violence, it was when Maud began a new life as a suffragette. Another day, Maud and her colleague Emily Davison heard that the King will participate in the Derby. They plan to appeal to the King about their fight. Eventually the plan succeeds as Emily sacrifices herself to the King's horse and dies. Maud is shocked at the fact that she had to lose her colleague to keep women’s rights. However, as she reads the book “Dream” given to her from the suffragettes' spiritual leader, Mrs. Pankhurst, Maud strengthens her mind more tightly and says "We go on."
The Way We Should Go
In the early 20th century suffragettes used actively violent methods - throwing rocks to break windows, exploding a bomb at the Prime Minister's mansion, and so on. These series of actions, however, were based on the faith that enacting a law allowing women full voting rights is the best policy to promote women’s rights. The women’s faith was not betrayed, as the law was brought into practice in 1928 when the British government approved it.
It has been almost a century since this occurred but we still see incidents showing that gender equality is not guaranteed in our society. Korea having a much lower number of women ministers and lawmakers than the world’s average has been a consistent issue. Recently, a voice actress’s tweeted image of a t-shirt with the slogan “Girls do not need a princess” caused controversy with Megalia, one of the feminist groups in the country. The general recognition of women cannot take a step toward considering them equal to men and social convention and male expectation are not absolutely changing. It is time to move, to step forward towards gender equality in Korea by promoting the legislation of laws to enhance women's rights protection. That is the way 'we go on'.
By Lee Yun-joo, Tribune Reporter