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The femininity of Park Geun-hye

Posted November. 02, 2012 00:51,   


Queen Christina of Sweden, who remained single for life like Queen Elizabeth I of England, thanked God for living with the spirit of a man through her years. She said, “I like men more than women not because they`re men but because they`re not women.” Historically, femininity has been a subject of disparagement rather than praise. Madam de Stael, the leader of modern French salon culture, said, “I’m happy that I wasn`t born as a man. Had I been a man, I should`ve married a woman.”

Femininity refers to the characteristics or self-consciousness as a woman. It includes a soft and peaceful attitude, horizontal thinking, relationship-oriented leadership, communication and harmony, and contains the perspective of motherhood in that women give birth to and raise children. On the contrary, masculinity is characterized by an aggressive and active attitude, vertical thinking, goal-oriented leadership, and a strong push. Neither is superior to the other and both are necessary, but male leaders have dominated thus far.

The concept of femininity is being reassessed as this period of history is being called the "era of the three W`s" -- Women, World and the Web. Political leadership is no exception. Many female leaders have emerged from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Most female leaders were not chosen because of femininity, however. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was called “the only man in the Conservative Party.” Israel’s first female leader Golda Meir abhorred feminists, calling them “those crazy women who burn their bras.”

Femininity can be an important feature of a leader. A feminine leader can elicit good policies in areas of female interest such as childcare and education, and could have good strength in communication. Femininity is also not the sole domain of women. Men can have feminine characteristics, too. When Rep. Lee Jae-oh said it was premature for Korea to have a female president, he must have had the vulnerability of national security in mind. But his saying is wrong as seen in the example of Thatcher. Opposition parties have recently attacked Park Geun-hye, the female presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party, for having no femininity. Just a while ago, Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Democratic United Party, had to ditch his slogan “A Korean man” due to women’s opposition.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)