Project: Deadline for Marriage

June 19, 2011 § 2 Comments

In the process of researching and narrowing my topic down, I have altered my focus for the project. I have begun with the relationship between age and lookism, beauty being the main theme, but have progressed to age influenced by gender in Korean culture. By reading some books published by Korean female authors regarding women’s lives and doing a number of interviews with friends and popular bloggers, it was evident that the effect of the male-based authorities was crucial to the typically life style for Korean women. Korean women are pressured to have an early marriage, and this is heavily influenced by the patriarchal society.

To a Korean woman, marriage is not necessarily a choice; it is closer to being a necessity. It is the missing piece in the puzzle shackling an unmarried in her unappeasable life. Korean women generally tend to try to follow the ‘typical’ life plan. They graduate from college when they are around twenty three or four. Some marry early and head on an early start, but others find a job. They continue on their career for approximately three years and before it gets too late, they marry, have children, and concentrate on the family. The last step happens when they are around twenty seven or earlier and afterwards, they no longer carry on their professional life. If they do not find the “right person” by then, they start to fret and feel the need to depend on arranged meetings with prospective marriage partners. The expectation to follow this plan is routine but inescapable.

I mainly did my research on Korean women in their later twenties and early thirties because this is when they get most anxious, facing the dilemma between emotional stability versus financial and social achievements. Women in their late twenties or later wanting to pursue their professional life are often neglected. Employers, first of all, want younger employees, an especially unfair but evident case in a lot of companies. Late twenties is slightly too old when competing with freshly-out-of-college job hunters. The old job-seekers are not welcome for another reason. Employers often tend to make an assumption that women, especially women in this age range, do not consider the job permanent in the sense that men do. Female employees will soon get married and will consequently quit the jobs. They make two unfair but socially present assumptions: one, women in their late twenties or older are desperate to get married and will try to go for the quick grab and two, resignation is an anticipated aftermath of marriage. Koreans still have not escaped from the cultural notion that men have to be the breadwinners of the household.

The influence is not necessary always created by men. From the interviews I have done, there seems to be invisible pressure on women by friends and family members as well. At a certain age, mothers seemed to encourage marriage and attempted to introduce potential marriage partners. Friends who have married created a sense of peer pressure.

My next step for the project is to gather some more information and experience from my previous interviewees, possibly interview a man’s perspective of the situation, and organize the copious amount of knowledge I have learned through my previous research!

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§ 2 Responses to Project: Deadline for Marriage

  • ethnolust says:

    This is looking good. I like the direction you’re moving into with regard to a general argument that ties everything together. Right now, I want you to make sure of 2 things. 1) You want to make sure to show ethnographic evidence for your statements about Korean women’s lives. Right now, I have to take your word for it. 2) Say what you mean, and do not expect me (or other readers) to understand your logic without holding my hand through the process.

  • ethnolust says:

    In your work, I encourage you to frame your argument in terms of inequality and discrimination rather than unfair (as you did in 2 instances here). We are interested in talking about how there are structures of inequality in our societies. We know there is discrimination. To say that something is “unfair” raises a moral question and presumes that our social words are ruled by just rules.

    I agree that what you have described is unfair, but I don’t believe that anything is fair. You’ve also described something that is discriminatory and reflects social inequality. Those 2 have a lot more to do with power relationships, and I think we can do more with them in this study.

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