Cho, Haejoang

Cho, Haejoang - Male Hominanoe and Mother Power The Two...

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Unformatted text preview: Male Hominanoe and Mother Power: The Two Sides of Confucian Pattittrehy in Korea Hnejonng Ciro " I. Introduction The asmment of women's status is not a simple matter. Depend— I ing on the researchers theoretical position and personal inclination. a totally different evaluation of women's status can be made. GeneralIy. Korean society has been referred to as an extreme form _ of patriarchy, especta y tiring t e late Yi dynasty; Women a no publiemsmmand o not to men. HowefithherefiTa'fiotmfiTpTofigated through tfier—nass media fimtivemmny. asserting that Korean women are so werfnl ana Em_ oornpared no imam-s liberatiotmmmmm women are the most powerful among the three East Asian oountries. Their argument is based on the ohsei'eafions that-women-did not change their s es fiporrflreir‘mmfitafi‘unfike Cline a Womanme or the “decorative” wives were not found in Korea. They also emphasize women‘s wide ranging eeonomie power: Korean women have seoarate income and also manage a]: household finances. In fact. discussions on the contradictory image ofwomen amng rare.Tanaica[1934:229}.in dimmers “maternal authority" in J span, distinguishes moral authority from "Prol'flsor. Dept. of Socioiogy. Yonsei Univ'mity. Seoul. Korea. 27? the jurally dependent status jural authority. She ettrphasizes that ly rucau that iii and outside the household does not necessari Japanese women have low moral attthority. Tanaka maintains that the mother's moral authority has bectt highly respected in laparr because mothers have been regarded as the very incarnation oftlre family and the mm of one‘s existence. Wolf HERE] also attempts to explain this apparent contradiction by introducing the concept "uterine farnily.‘I Chinese mothers secured tlteir position and exercised their power within the patriarcltal family system by making smaller families of their own tltrough tlte enrotional ties. ' ent contradiction of ltow the In this paper. ] tackle this appar potveriessfwonten} could be powerful by examining the Korean case. The ‘r'i dynasty is chosen as tlte major focus of this analysis. The key to understanding he Confucian states seems to depend on hour a r 'rnother power." although mother power cantrot understanding the psycho-cultura crucial to assess worrren‘s status an East Asian countries are so conservative on the matters concerning women‘s rights. Korean society might be an ideal case for st tidying the mechanisnt of how a rigid male donrinant system can be maintained alongside the overwhelming mother power. The theoretical frame of publicfdomestic opposition made by Rosaldo and Iamphere [19?4] has been adopted as the major conceptual scheme for evaluating women‘s status in the 'r'i dynasty. Rosaldo and Lampherc {1974:1113} attempt to explain the universal asymmetry in cultural evaluation of the sexes by proposing a structural model that relates the recurrent aspects of psychological, cultural and social organization to the opposition between the dommtic orientation of women and the extra-domestic or "public" orientation of men. The dicttotomy of the public and domestic implies that although women may have a great deal of informal “power,” the "authority" of men over women appears to be a human universal. A further derivation from this dichotomy is that r-women's status is higher in societies where the-family plays an imponant socialjfunction,_i.e.1—where‘theilotnesiic realm itself is more powerful. ' women's status iitt esearcher interprets‘ be equated with women‘s status, 1 mechanism of mm her power is d to understand why women in 27"} in; Iréfnagttf‘iltrr: levels of social reality to becortsidercd in discuss I _ k d. e and status: economic conditionI ideological rac groom and social organization. A detailed economic anal 'sit will not be attempted due to the lack of data and the reseasehii‘i- ntahihtyl. Instead1 the ideological and psycho-cultural dimension: of familial relations will he highlighted in tlt is paper. At the outset ofour discussionI however, we need to be informed that economic production during the Ti dynasty depended on labor—intensive agriculture. The land was controlled by the state and major lineages tl.l LChot rsss, S.M.Ct:]934l. The family was the basic unit of economic production Property rights were transmittal through sclf~sufficient family retired for its eit— “ as T}. the patrilineal family line. rstertce on the labor of all the family members; both men and womc had-to cooperate for the serious endeavour of familv survival 1|various studies on women '5 status in the agrarian societies of bdtli the Frast and the West discovered that women under these social conditions played an important role in economic production and management. resulting in a "certain rough_and readv Quality“ tre- lwmtt the sexes {Hamilton tstsas. Friedl rat‘s, Bosemp rate} was the rise of capitalism and industrialization. women's economic dependency upott their husbands increased. Zarmki “913: 261.4?”- lll'l hts bpolt on Cl‘rrpt'tat'hm. the Ft}me and Personal Life, argues t rat capitalist society ts the first society in human history to socialise production‘on a large scale. resulting in a split of socialized forms of commodity production and private labor. As capitalistic societies put much more weight on the sodalized labor for economic growth domestic labor is undervalued and the family booames isolated froni the maize-social process. subsequently, male-supremacy was institu- i troflzed ritThe‘fomrof economic production, contrasting sharpl \ with proeapitalist societies where matersupmnacy was defined larng through ideological and political terms. if I In order to understand the ideologiml foundation of gender rela— tipns during the ‘t’i dynasty, we need to undersiitnd the political lustoryof ltorea. The El dynasty was established by a new class of Confucian officials and scholars who legitimized their revqu - tron by adopting Confucianism as the governing ideal. They expelled the previously powerful Buddhist. elites. and consolidated their "-—.__.-i- 281 political power solely on the Confucian ideological basis {S.H .Cha I934]. Although there were other religious and ideological influences ' These three ‘ - ~ such as shamanism and Buddhism. lI'Confucianism was the only their own autoilffigfigfiflfjfSiffrrdatifl’ bu} me!” Him "3“? publicly recognized ideology throughout the dynasty. in this con- they need to be flamin as SE Emu-rant orrnation. Therefore. text. the focus of ideological analysis will be on Confucianism. evolutionary and snuggtic and”; Fanfl'sitems employing hot}; The third dimension to be considered is the way society is strati- in the method {J aflurflnlcmd an‘fll ‘ “1:1? Impfidance rs given Fred and organized. The various aspects of the hierarchical social centered analysis is on the ways in Whig? e rgfus of the actor- organization. i.e.. “the prestige system” is critical for understand- _ the world are Shape-d in certain ways Th3“ actor s perceptions of _ ing gender relations [Drtner and Whitehead, 193l:3}. The pre- is central in a way that .rmcaning din-cs tangent ofthe acre... capitalist society constitutes a quite different social order from the must be invested in smb 015 and in” net 1; ere "1 Symbols but capitalist one. Zflfflski finds examples from ancient Greece where acting social beings!- {Onnfl and thfr: from symbols by politics distinguished men's "human" life from the "anirnalistic" conceptions, at; an}. Omar soda] can“ le cad. IPBlril. Crertdfl existence of women and slaves. In medieval Europe. surplus ap- "runcliflning 33m or a meiécu'm I‘lllt'l. are to be studtedas . propriated from peasant families supported the religion and actors manipulate. interpret legih-mize “a: system throngh which aristocratic class. who together defined the purpose and meaning that order their social woilrt" {Coma rcjhroduec the patterns_ of the entire society. As the prestige system always has a powerful Maintaining a balance between Present. a" Rosa‘ddfir 193131 il— interaction with thc gender system. mere facts such as women‘s conr - economic structure and the psychflfufing elm outline of the socio- tribution to the economy or exclusion from-public positions must achieved by examining [HEW from hum l1: structure can only be not be interpreted as a direct index of women's status? Tth'omen's centered [xi-swim. 3‘ Pf'ccnlered and system— status in most precapitalist hierarchical societies may be understood The data util' ' ' . properly by examining the political system. the lineage organiaa- the analysis. rmflhnafli:l;afigl:ic;ildDUSI Fm the fir“ part or tion and their interplaying dynamics. main”. "mi For the Jamar pat” fir 1h: an Iit'fll‘thetnts and novels are Particularly. the kinship organization defines what are the most researches. both through interviews I: fl'srfitala from my own important structural relationships between men and women in these _ among mgdcm womml as was m 3“ fpaml-‘IPEHI Observation societies. 011neril§lil:3£lfi},in her studsr of Polynesia. asserted that lineages are utilized [Clio 198] lilnm mm the rural ms'mrfilic the marriage tie in Polynmia is weak. l'vlost nuanestern societies ' a' 3] hr [934)- with a short history of industrialization show wealter tim between I husband and wife. in contrast widt stronger tim between parent and _ child or between siblings. Since kinship encompasses—mafiage'ties fl wnmm' Cmimdnm “"1 Cflnfuelattisattnn in these societies. “highly culturally assigned status of women as Inns; rm - . i _ ‘ kinreneorrtpasses their lower status as wivm. and produces an mhmfiflmfiEQEEEdmmPi dynasty overall cultural rupect. or at least lack of disrespect. for women values and norms. In the latter part I philosophy. in ammo {Garter 1931394}. In Polynesia. sisters receive greater attornptgd by. m the Can} ‘ analyse well be respect than wives. and women in general are seen more as sisters . framework of the discussion is “mm tron process. The thanfaa wivm. A. very similar argument can be made in the case of m I“ 111* fUHDWflta Table l. the i dynasty where mothers have extreme importance in deter- A. Cth-t't'dflism.‘ Ideology of“ - - _ ale-MW and Hemorry e mining the overallstatus of women. _ The formal ideology dom not deem um mum; of man. but Me I: DIMENSIONS RELEVA NT FOR FEMALE 5 IN THE LA TE PI DYNASTY _____._.._— Supptcssing Female Autonomy Encouraging Mother Power l'lamily-t:entered subsistence economy Istrict role prescription _L_.i . . . . . 1 |Economte Condition Ipatr‘rltneal dcseen i tlabor-inlcnsive l agriculture} system astrict scx-role prescription icornplenientaty ctn- phasized by the yin-yang principle Ilarnily-oticnted social order Ivalues such as respect for the aged and filial piety ' ' her's inclusiveness of lineage ontportance of mot organization {cit 'algc- identin {c.g. women‘s oath} keeping their natal | ' ' surnames} 'Importance of women s I behavior for reputation 'soc1ally rewarded _ of husband's lamin women's contribution and lineage {c.g. severe to the welfare—of the ‘ restrictions on women‘s fantin Leg. yulnyo. behavior and prohibi- chonghu. bye-bu} tion of remartiage} :____._——-— | ldeclogi cal Ground ! tConlucianism} ihleratchieal cosmic order of the heaven tmale] and the earth {female} I 'sett-diiiere ntiation Socio-cultural System [1. monarchy charac- 'tetired by balance be- itnten monarehical upowcr and of the 'power of yanghon} - [1. absoluteness and importance of lineage membership} l1 ' an. definitely constrains it. Since} e Y1 dynasty set out registrant trimesnfudaagodeo. Gottfueiaaistasnseaasthemaieumm bottom I mmlifldhm, abased women w Thflml'flmgi ' ' les overninatheinteradionsbetweeuthe sexes. e t memm " hyr'il served _ iritgarhflgtllgygamng and peldcet. meanmg the outamzpfiii “a Maccabees... domestic opposiuon.Namyonyo r infieran 1 or mains are hierarchically ordered. Y.U.Pa.rk [1935], "fiomfi " e ' sex-difference and. 233 Confucian tests such as Shoreht‘ng. Shift-citing, Lian—yd. Mengtzu, fishing and U—chr', makes it clear that the idea of male supremacy is found in almost all of these Confucian texts. although there may be some differences in emphasis and in degree. Wg describes we as the earth who must follow men. Men are the heavmfilmoleadeeaven is strong with the nijncialecr'maafitfianh-a lmv and soft with tltefiprin— CEPIE 01’ "many?" 'So'riiifdh'gjido {A woman must follow three men in her lifetime: her father. her husband and finally her eldest son}. assesses (the seven codes for expelling a woman from her husband‘s home} and the rigid segregation between the sexes after the age of seven as stated in Iii-chi were the most basic rules for guiding women‘s life. I found that most of the old women of Meghan families whom I have interviewed thoroughly internalized this idea of the different status between men and women. To the question, "Why are men superior to women? Are both the earth and the heaven indispensable‘i,” a woman responded: “The earth cannot step on heaven, can it?" She also explained that chastity was required only of women because the earth cannot have two heavens. There are. however. other aspects of Confucianism which support women‘s rights.' They are related to familisrn and the yinr’yang dynamics in regulating human relations. As mentioned above. Confucianism dearly differmtiatm the public and domestic domains. But it also specifies that a man cannot attain public virtue nor less he internaiiaes domestic virtue l'trst. Sushinjego—elt'r'gtrk— phfingeh'dnhc reads“ nfiineanbeatrue public leader onlya' er he cuitivates himself Ws hpfiflmcmmwfifidfifimndusive of public ones. This ernphasis on the family-cornered social order seemed to work in favor of elevating women's status. Women. through their maternal identity and role, could receive considerable _ Impact not only in the family but also in the society. In fact, the wives of the high public officials of the Yi dynasty were endowed with public formal titles fY.S.Chong I913}. Filial pietyr was upheld as the ultimate value in Confucianism. or at least in the Koreanized Confucianism. When the vidue of filial piety was in conflict with that of loyalty to the king. priority was given to filial piety. Public officials. for example. were expected to return to their villages for performing the three year mourning rituals for their parents. even if that meant giving up their public positions. Filial piety extended to both men and women alike. As mothers were highly regarded and rewarded. women's life goals. naturally. were to produce successful sorts. The following folk story tells us how proud and tree a woman can be once site accomplished this life goal. There was a renowned scholar and prime minister who lived around the middle of the Ti dynasty. One day. he was having a social gathering with his fellow officials. He heard someone urinating in a chambcrpot in the next room. ‘v'ery embarrassed. he dashed into the room and found that it was his mother. His mother said with a calm voice: “It was the hole which delivered the famous prime minister which did it. Should it be refrained from doing anything?” t‘r’.l.Parl-i 1912:3458}. We cannot tell clearly what the main message of this story was to the social actors: it might have been just a story giving catharsis [or the oppressed women. or it might have been a story reflecting the reality of the overwhelming power of mothers at that time. At any rate. we can imagine from the story that the old mother was. indeed. a very powerful symbol. Producing sons was the most important duty for women. it was also the major means for women to achieve social status and power. A woman who did not have a son was considered as a non-persog._ByJ;ta_v_ipg a sonI a woman finally became a significant person and could Wont. meg-discrimination in her ad age.— 1m.— an agrarian eoonomy and the Confucian—value when both contributed to matte the Yi dynasty a strong familyeriented society. Under these social eon- ditions. mothers were assigned a high social status despite the existence of the extreme sexist bias inherent in Confucianism. The principle of yin and yang and the emphasis on the har- monious social order seem to offer another basis for women to maintain some degree of power and self-rupoct. The interdependenoe between the sexm and women's complementary roles were highly idealized. Separated from the men. women could have their own religious {shamanism and other foil: beliefs] and social activities. 235 Kendall [lPESrITi'L in her study on Korean sharna ' I nrsm a comprehensive descripti 1 pram” on of how the shamanistic rites reflect I ertnore. she discusses that Kor h mantsm deals with broader inter l d can 5 a— _____H cats at t e ' ' level when compa am: I an mmumw I. I these :1 es. “win tit-cen n ' ' ' ' F ‘ “IEEFF women‘s seems to indicate that there 5- rretet division hetwem t e women 's and men’s domain and areortltngly heavier interdependence of the two domains In Il'act ' there was a strict division ot‘labor between shamanism and Conluv CIIHHISI‘HrHS Ihcrc was in daily life. Shamanism dealt basically with they allowed l'ttcian theory. ce but moss-rots. by having their own living quarters thin themselves. were not directly oped their own hierarchy ol‘domina- 1women to perform the shamanistie rites despite Con which in principle rejects any kind of spiritual exinen [in the other hand. women. and diorming social groups wi tron and the reward system. Young women were dominated by their mothers—instant but they could at ' . so find an reference groups within the we ' pmnmg 53mm and u _ fl . arnanistn.asbasicallythereli ‘ the. domestic. could not offer any alternative model forgirfiiietiti ti. Coqfuctnntzerton' Tl' ' . ghrenen' Irrrenge trrr' ti and Strengthened Mother Ponto- org W a” Governing the poop le with the ' ' ' ' mu + I g Emits]. pnnctples ofConfiuo_amsm, fi.e., and using ideology to gainpolitical power. (i.e.. politiciring Confucianism}. are two different things. in the early part I of the dynasty. Confucianism was more of governing philosophy. It had its own room for change. But it was gradually dogmatircd as it beCame the major source and nteans of obtaining power in the political strife. in the process. Confucius was deified and Korean society became extremely rigid (Y.S.Parit 19M. H.Cho 1936}. M. Peterson “933:42—43] divides the Yi dynasty into 4 stages: {I} the initiating period at the end of the fourteenth century. {2] the implementation period of a completely Confucian government during the fifteenth century. {3} the begintting of arguments on changing the social order during the sixteenth century. and [4} the broad Con fucianization into the local levels during the seventeenth century and beyond. What is noteworthy here is that the sixteenth century was a period which required a fundamental transformation of the social order. The transfortnation was done not through a institutional reformation but through the widespread implemen— tation of Confucian practice and tightened lineage organizations throughout the nation to the local level. The obsession with ritual formalin and dogmatic ideological imposition on the one hand and the great emphasis on consanguinity on the other became the major characteristics of the Koreanized Confucianism. Narrowing down the discussion to the women's status. the Confucian mode of conduct was confined to the ynngoon class in the early part of the dynasty. It did not serve to restrict women‘s conduct as it did in the later years. Detailed historical analysm have shown that women had many more legal rights in the areas _of inheritance and adoption in the early dynasty compared with the latter part of the dynasty (Wagner 1933. Peterson 1933):!er the fifteenth century that the strict proifibifianm widows was legalized. It was brought into being y to a Confucian familial ideal but to limit the rapidly increasing number of candidates for the state examination and to eliminate political rivals {D.K.Lee 1935:4041]. The major agent of the full scale Confucianization was the retired or purged public officials and their descendants who mtablished their powerbase in the rural areas. As the spirit of the newly established loyal leadership 1waned. the excemivcly aggrandired ruling class began BE? to compete as groups and individuals for the limited land and power. in the absence of a clearly defined set of objective criteria for classifying the ruling status. descendants of yangotrn had to struggle to maintain their dominant position in their own locality. This was accomplished by emphasizing their role as Confucian teachers and consolidating their power with other yonghnn lineages and local governers. Through marriage alliance and networks through :5 won {the memorial halls to honor distinguished Confucian scholars). the promi nent jungth lineagm formed a major powerbloclr. However. the alliance did not provide a secure and permanent basis to maintain their power and privileges. The social prestige of yonghon lineages from the wellcstabiishcd to the newly emerging ones were constantly assessed and reassessed according to the numerous criteria. The ranking of yengoen became a relative and intersubjective mat- ter largely determined by the following factors: the fame of their ancestors {as nationally known scholars and statesmen]. the purity of their “blood” line. the ritual propriety of all its lineage members and the socioeconomic resonroesthe present lineage members had accumulated. in this process, hereditary lineages became more powerful means for social control than the state. Thus. chokes [the written records of the family tree} became highly regarded. Com— pared with the Chinese system. the Korean system of the state examinations had stricter practice of prohibiting sons of concubines even in applying for the examination [J.H.Song 1981:213-2161. This indicates the familial origin was much more critical in Korea when compared to China. In this context. the mother's familial back- ground began to have greater importance. and women came to have distinctive social identity and value. Furthermore. as the society depended its social control on the Confucian ideology and the lineages. filial piety had been reinforced to a greater extent. An individual’s conduct was judged in terms of this ultimate value. which in turn determined the status of the family and the lineage which sfhe belonged to. Filial piety literally became the ultimate life-goal for a person. regardless of one‘s sex and status. 1‘l'iihen a woman lived up to the ideal of the virtuous daughter and wife. she was rewarded by the state as the hyonyti {filial daughter] and the jfilmfi {faithful wife] as a man was rewarded by the state as tlte ftyoy'o {filial son) and tlte eft'ungshfn {faithfu subject]. By producing a pile yo or hyojc. the family could get ill);- esemption or even raise their class-status. We can easily guess that many accomplishment-minded women strived to he yofnyd or at least work to receive forms of respect by thoroughly conforming to the Confucian values and norms. A Confucian scholar in the IEth century proudly reported that Korean women‘s faithfulness to titeir husbands was so sincere that Chinese women could not compete with them [OKLce 1935:49-5I}. It must be emphasized again that women could accomplish something only for their husband‘s family. Daughters were regarded as ch 'algooefn {outgtoup}. As the rivalism and competition amongst the lineages among the yongltort lineages intensified. daughters were further pushed away from their natal families. The following tale handed down to an aristocratic family tells wlty “married out” daughters had to be avoided. The family produced a great scholar in the middle of the dynasty and arouttd the same period. one of their daughters also produced a famous scholarcfficial. She delivered the child at this house. A famous geomancer told the family that the house-site was predetcrntincd to produce three great men. which implied that there was only one more to' come. in order to prevent a son of their daughter taking away the hi [spirit] of the house-site. the family made a rule to prohibit their daughters to deliver babies at this house. As the story reveals. the daughters were considered outgroup members. if not encodes. YoUng women. sometimes facing inhuman treatment from their husbands' families. could hardly find any place to turn. As the society was tightly organized under the principle of patrilineallty and people were anxious to protect the familial interests of their patrilineage. little protection was offered to women from theirlnatal families.Llnder such conditions, women had only one choice: They had to endure and survive with their husbands' families and ae- complish their objectives through and for their sons. A folk story describes a woman who was faithful to her husband‘s family by outsmarting her natal family. A wife of a poor sass: [a generic term for a scholar who was preparing for the state examina- tion and who was expected to be concerned only with the public 239 good} attended her grandfather‘s funeral. That night she hall‘- pened to overhear her father and a geomancer discussing the burial-site over the hill. The geomancer told her father that the site seemed to be a excellent spot which would surely guarantee the prosperity of the family. But he said an on-the—spot survey was required in order to make it sure that the spot was not too wet. The daughter. being covetous of the spot. climbed the hill. walked back and forth and poured water on the spot all through the night. The next morning. her father and the geomancer were disappointed to find the spot was wet. and they had to find a new bufialvsite. After the funeral. the daughter asked her father to give the desened burial- site to her. and he readin agreed to give it to her. Later. she buried her husband for her father—in-law. depending on the variation} and her husband‘s family became prosperous. She produced many sons. who became high public officials and her descendants were abundant. This story has a function of indoctrinating women to be loyal to their husbands' families instead of their natal families. As the story emphasizes. it is the position of mother which a woman must identify with. By focusing on the sons' and descendantsI success. women can be effectively persuaded. Women. as wives of the scholarly men who were supposed to be indifferent to minor business such as daily living. had to take the burden of managing one's poor households. The old women of aristocrch families whom i interviewed recalled that they were taught to marry poor son-iii. The life of a poor sdnbi’s wife was described to be very much like that of a faithful sdnhf of a declin- ing state fY.w.Churtg 1935:61'}. {in an inscription of a woman's tombstone. a poor so'noi's wife was praised because she could "suspend the decline and prevent the breakdown of the family. managing a hoesehold of poverty. making three meals a day. preparing the ancestral rites. and making family gatherings happy and comfortable." It says at the end. “whose spirit will he nobler titan hers!” Women also took great pride in being cht'mgltu. the daughter-htdaw of the main family. Acaciath whom I interviewed saidthat it wastrulyachaflengingjob. Sheleamedinberchildhood how to manage poor households. never letting others_notice that she was hungry. In order to be a successful and respectable chdngou. she said. one had to he practical1 hardworking and skillful in managing economic and human resources. She must also be strong and firm just like yojnnghrr, the woman oommander. In fact. yoybngbu is a distinctive female image cherished by Korean women and portrayed by novelists even now flvt.Choe 1933, K.Parlt 19E, C. H .Kim I‘J'M}. Most aristocratic lineages which I have studied {about If! in number] ltad one or two role models of this type. Typically.yt3_.t'ortgbtt had several sons. all ofwhom passed the state examination. had an ability to forecast the future, and managed one's family estate with grt energy. The image was further elaborated with descriptions of physical characteristics [ugly face and strongly built asexual body. etc.} 'at‘ld extraordinary activities [such as horseback riding}. Even among commoners1 similar images were cherished. A wise _ and hardworking daughter-in-Iaw. who revived the declining family. is one of the most frequently appearing figure in the foli-ttalcs. Through her detern'linationI intelligence and diligence. a woman can make her dumb husband a great man or accumulates wealth for her family. In both cases. the heroine shares the personality characteristics of independence and strong will power. Shimch “ting. dorio'egi or Pitttinggnnggongfn are stories basically portraying the same personality traits: overcoming tremendous hardships all by herself and finally bringing happiness to the whole family. It is important to note here that women‘s lives were basically similar regardless of their class. fits supporters of their “noble”I husbands. women had to lead fives of hard work.- A folksong tells the reality as follows: "will there be any difference in a woman's hardship, whether she is rich or poor? Our husbands know little of daily living. but ooocem only with their tasteful appearance." By dramatic contrast to men, women of the Yi dynasty had to achieve power and authority through their own efforts. Except for being state officials, men‘s status was more of an ascribed nature, ' leaving little room for them to amornplish on their own. But a woman basically had to strive for her entire life, not only for her own stmrival but also for her family‘s survival. This life pattem produced practical and aggressive womenI contrasting the idle and formalistie men. Korean women. who lived powerless lives of 291 dauglrters-in-law through the powerful life of mothers-in—law and who sun‘rved the rough and troubled history as the stronghold of the family. had naturally developed a sense of power and guts in themselves. This very sense of power fin addition to the sense of responsibility] as the major supporters of the family made women even more aggressive to maximize their own self [largely familial in appearance] interests. ill. Discussion: Mother Power. Familism and Social Change I have tried to show in the above discussion that there were two sides of Confucian patriarchy of the late Yi dynasty: extreme suppression of women on the one hand and extreme encouragement of motliin‘s accomplishment on the other hand. In Confucian texts. we found both fundamental sexism and an emphasis on the com— plementa ry relationship of the sexes. At the organizational level, the heavy emphasis on the family and the lineage functioned to exclude women. particularly daughters and wives, but at the same time accommodate them as daughtersvin-law and mothers. The strict spatial and role division between the sexes had both positive and negative effects on women‘s lives. Women were empowered by their activities as economic producers and household manages to moisten balance their husbands, who idmlized thesfinbr'. However, it should not overlooked here that economic power was relatively insignifi- cant 1n comparison with political and ideological power at that time. 1What are these telling us ultimately about women's status? How could mother power be assessed in maintaining and creating social channg In order to answer these questions, we need to probe further into two napedsathe nature of mother power. andrhe social conditions under which mother power is institutionalized. First of all.rtis easerrtialtorernemberthatitwaserflynrethersand legitimized wives who could exorcise power and authority in the late Yi dynasty. Daughters andeoneubineshad no poweratall. The sooetyguaraoteedatremmdousamomrtofrewardonh'fermothers’ devotion and ignoring any other type of devotion of women as sisters or wives. in wars {tsrz- :_ so has. already hidicated in her study on the Chinese family. it was through the extreme emphasis on motherhood that a male ideology which excluded women made its accommodation with reality. Guisso [1932} presents a similar ' interpretation of this by saying that in traditional China. a women‘s liberation movement cannot be brought into being because the age factor exceeded the gender factor: old mothers were free from the restrictions imposed upon young women and they received the highest rcspeet and care at the final stage in their lives. In fact. Eegitimizing mother power might be the ntost successful way of accommodating women under the male-dominated social system. Compared with wife power. which can be found mostly in the Western countries. or sister power itt Polynesian societies. mother power seems to be the ntost secure source of power for women under a patriarchal system. The enduring tie and strong attachment between mother and son can easily develop into the son‘s dependence upon his mother psychologically. culturally and institutionally. _ However. the nature of rnotherhcod contains conservatism in itself. Mothers are able to defer their gratification so much longer than wives or sisters that they. although feeling discontented. tend to hold on and endure with a vague hope in the future for their children. Women with institutionalized mother power are much more independent psychologically from their husbands than those women equipped with wife power. However. theyr have much more difficulty in achieving-independence from their sons and establishing_their identity as autonomous individuals. In fact. the eadstence'ofiitstitu— tionalized mother power can be one of the major stumbling blocks in the women's right‘s movement in Korea in the sense that young .- women do not consider themselvesas fully:g_r_t:gwn_ persons until they . get married and become mothersr I" 'lhe second aspect to he discussed is the relationship between the nature of the society and mother power. Under what conditions does mother power becomes a socially important force? As discussed here. mother power has been fully activated and has influenced the social process in a quite direct and pervasive way in Korea. Matrifoeal tendency seems to have been intensified through the modern history of distorted modernization and foreign domination. During the early modernization period. inhuman legal practices such as the prohibition 293 of t'entarriage and concubinage were banned. and the education of women was urged' by new elites. But the familial relationships remained largely the same. During the Japanese colonial era. many families were physically disintegrated. A. great number of men left home for abroad. the independence movements. and voluntary and involuntary labor. and women had to assume heavier responsibility as f amilysh eads in the absence of male family members. The Korean War. again. separated many men from their homes. reinforcing matrifccaliration. Under these social conditions where famin survival was the ultimate goal of life. women played a crucial role and their aggressiveness was accepted and even highly rewarded. During the rapid industrialisation. mothers had to be busy on behalf of the “status—reproduction” of the family {H.Papanecit 1955]. Through a hundred years of modernization. the ideology of family continuity has waned. and the family is nucleariaed at least in its form. But the mother-son relationship still predominatm over the conjugal one and the conflict between mother-inslaw and daughter— _ ln-law remains as the major source of social conflict. _ An important aspect of matrifocality may be that the more "central women become in maintaining their families. the more lperipheral and alienated men become from their families. Men. .insisting the male-supremacy ideology and following the image of sot-rot. have constantly ltept distances from their'family members and pretended to be aloof from the daily life aetivitim. In this way. Korean_men seem tic-have relegated their power and authority too much to women. A majority of men now are qttite conf used about their farrdlial and social responsibilities. Mmoug'h they may be still recognised and served as family-heads by their wives. men may not bedtedefaeto familyheads. Consistentwithtl'tisarg'umenmiterattce critics begintodlseussthefaetthatadistinefiveeharaeteristicof Korean novels since the 19th century is the clam of the father figure. When Korean feminists search for proper ways to realize gender equality in Korea, they may have to consider first these resided“! facts that KCWW bypowerful mothersand theirdependentsons. WW1: betnemmother power and the nature of society: llillhat lcind of society producm 'powerful rnothers'.Tr Now we can go back to the Rosaldo and Larnpltere [19?4} proposition that women's role and status are cen- tral where the fantily plays important social functions. i.e.. where the domestic sphere itself is rttore powerful. As discussed above. the family centered production and the Confucian ideology have characterized traditional Korea as being a "family state.” The long lasting sociopolitical instability since the latter part of the ‘tr'i dynasty and subsequent foreign dominations. reinforced the family- cenleredness even further. In this historical process. exclusive fatnilisttt has become the core value. leaving little room for the public ideology. Faniilisni is. of cottrse. one major way to organize societies. But it must be remetnbered that it was found rather more frequent— ly in smaller and simpler societies. In those societies. the domestics“ public opposition was not clearly drawn. or even if it was. the activities in the public domain were relatively insignificant for social survival. Korean society is to be classified definitely as a society which makes a very clear distinction between the public and domestic domains. We also know that industrialisation is a social process marked by a sudden expansion of the public domain. How then can we explain the existence of strong familisrn in a complex and industrialized society? We can easily guess that when a society is struggling for bare survival. offering little protection to its members. people try to survive on their own as tightly consolidated family units. The persistent existence of extreme family—centered values and mattifocality throughout the modernhistory of Kor may be. then. interpreted as the indication of the relative weakness of public sphere. The survival strategy of Korean society for the last soveral centuries. including the recent rnodemization. seems to have been directed toward the self-help principle of the blood—related kinship unit rather than expanding the public sphere. The majority of the Korean people still agree with the old expression. “there is nothing but family {blood} that a person can trust” (‘1’.1.Loe 1934]. People hardly trust any kind of social groups or institutions such as the company. the school. the nation. or even the voluntary association. Hepotism is still a major social problem. This tendency of exclusive and egocentric famiilsm scents to have % 295 been strengthened rather than weakened through the recent rapitl industrialisation. In this historical process, women in fact had played major roles. Women. wltosc only concerns were confined to the family survival. and who have not been exposed to the public “work” world of men. have guarded the familial values most faithfully. Unlike the middle-class housewives in Wmtern Sfldfllfifi or in Japan, Korean women have little interest in charitable roles or lucal welfare programs tI.Tinker Jason}. They invest their time solely for the immediate familial interests. such as visiting school teachers to give “envelopes” for upgrading their children's scone or engaging in informal businesses in the area ofreal estate or kye. a traditional style of the credit union. It is largely dependent upon hist'her mother‘s efforts for a child to pass the school entrance examination or for the daughter to marry. A wife is expected somehow to manage to buy a house with the limited funds from her husband's salary. which is very insufficient for that. The traditional saying “How a man is received by others depends Upon his wife" still serves as living wisdom [M.H.Choi 1933:l??}. . What kind of mechanisms still enable exclusive familism to persist? I do not attempt here to offer a full eatplanationof the question. But at least I can suggest that the existence of large room for informal manipulation in the public domain has a direct relationship with it. In fact. the distinction between the public and dommtic domain is made only at the fennel level. At the informal level. the distinction is rather blurred._-leaving ample cho'i‘tTfor the family. and the mother in partiCuIar. to involve and interfere with. Elf course. I am not arguing that it is aggressive mothers who are ultimately responsible for the backstage manipulation and for maintaining the value ofertclusive familism. What I am suggesting hotels that anylzhtdofflmdamortalsodalehangeeamsottalreplaee calm therolesof are The Korean history we have known asth ilie whole picture. Only after we discover the other side of Confudanism. we will be able to write a holistic history. It- needs to be emphasised that familism. moduer power and the "overdependenoe" WWefl. which are largely—th‘emtended product of Confucian pabiarchy. have been contributing significantly in creating an extraner conservative SDClal Si'fltrn. It' Koreans are trulyr determined to he the masters of their own history. the}r may have to concern themselves more about making mother less powerful. The sens: of power and the sense oi" worth must be distinguished here. Any history whieh produced by powerful individuals with litlie sen5e of 1worth cannot be a healthy one. in order to rationalize eeonomie production and at the same time to humanize society. Korean women need to he encouraged to have the sense of worth. not the sense of power. This will mean that women should be encouraged to he more independent from their sons and integrated into the “formal” public domain. while men he encouraged to take more responsibility at home. as well as at the work place. 1|When Korean women give up their mother power. we mayr expect a revolution in Korean society. Referennes Boserup. E. 1970 Women'i'fiofe in Economic Development. l'ileiiuI 1t"or|t: St. Martin. Ch: Slang-whim IFS-II "Ideological Change and Soc-La! Stratification during the Transitional Period imm- the Karyn lo the W Ds'rustf." 3dth flier-Ir (Sociologieal Studies] |. Seoul: major-35a. Che Hit-jam; 19811 "A. Comparative Study of Marital Power between Employed Wives and House-rim." Hem-Ir Schoeth {Koran Sodolfln'i 15. I'llllb "Continme and Change in Korean Women's Urns."A.r-eo Toning roan: {The Journal of Ari-n Women] 2|. Seoul: fluttering Warrior‘s Univerfitr. I?“ "The Republie of Knrea:1'hole Left Behind." Won-rm in the Vfiimmdflen in fire Town. Paris: Um. ' 193:6 "T'beTrIasl'ormalionnf the Kenton limit-2hr.” Km Weasel-13m}. Seoul: Korean Women's Studies Chni Jae Hrfin [9‘13 “Hlnaul [hinjabonjnii WE Kaenyfimhujfin; Munje“ (A WWNMMofMMhfiMHMk Mflfiermw Wm. Seoul: Mama. Chili “mi 1933 Honourifl'heLight eEIheSeul]. Stud: Tubman! lib-e.- Chfina Sing Mn 1m "Donglel: mrfimuadoueh'evwa {meson Chdntonueiiouujo" [Home Made of Production and Korean Social Smart]. Tendon: Kellie Prion l. Semi. (tin; Yo-afip rm ‘Womcn'sSodaiStmedm-inaflie'i'l MRI-1m rifle; Fmprflhe Join-nil of Asian Women] [1. Sears]: Suitnurfin; Women's Unlmfltf. ...
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Cho, Haejoang - Male Hominanoe and Mother Power The Two...

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