Monthly Archives: May 2011

LGBT Rights in Poland and South Korea

Poland and South Korea have both undergone significant societal changes within recent decades.  Both societies democratized suddenly after long periods under authoritarian rule, whether military or communist.  For gays and lesbians in South Korea and Poland, these changes brought exciting new opportunities, but also major obstacles.  One of the largest hurdles they face is the dramatic inequity regarding civil rights.

Emancipated from the Soviet Union in 1989, Poland has enjoyed greater access to information and a freer economy, but with these new freedoms came dramatic social transformations and struggles.  The sexual revolution that occurred in the United States and Western Europe in the 1970s arrived in Poland in only the 1990s.  Homosexuality was still seen as a “symptom of ‘Western depravity,’ and did not fit socialist morality.”  However, with this sexual revolution, gays and lesbians in Poland felt they could congregate at last, but were also seen as scapegoats to the larger Polish population, which had yet to acclimatize to the new global ideas and challenges they now faced.

Gays and lesbians in South Korea faced similar hardships after their country’s transition to democracy.  South Korea’s turbulent history, notably its military rule which ended in 1986, placed notable limitations of the population as a whole, and particularly on the gay and lesbian population.  Homosexuality in South Korea was historically seen as nonexistent, and as in Poland, as a foreign disease occurring after globalization and democratization.  Even after democratization, gays and lesbians who came out faced harsh and often deeply humiliating sanctions.  For example, if a man serving in the military was “outed” as being gay, higher-ranked officers would often notify his family of his sexual orientation, while some members of the military, in order to receive a medical discharge, would have to submit photographs or video footage their sexual acts with another man

It is plain to see that the civil rights of gays and lesbians of both Poland and South Korea are being violated, even considering the progress they have made within the last decades.  A telling example occurred very recently in Poland.  The 2004 Campaign Against Homophobia parade attempted to march through Warsaw, and was rebuffed by an ultra-religious organization who attempted to keep the gay-and-lesbian-friendly group away from churches and Polish historic memorials.  A year later, Lech Kaczynski, then mayor of Warsaw, refused to grant a marching permit for the Equality Parade, though he granted the same permit to the extremely right-wing conservative All-Polish Youth, who chanted such extraordinarily offensive slogans as “We’ll do to you what Hitler did to the Jews,” and “faggots to the gas chamber.”  In South Korea, though there have been many steps toward progress, South Korea’s military law prohibits and punishes homosexual intercourse, which is referred to disparagingly as kyegan, which translates literally to “sex between chickens.”

Gays and lesbians throughout the world are still fighting to be seen by society as normal human beings, rather as anomalies or worse.  Though both Poland and South Korea are slowly acclimatizing to the concept of gays and lesbians, their tireless struggles have afforded them less progress than they would like.  As of now, Poland and South Korea are still treating their gay and lesbian populations as second-class citizens.  In order for there to be true equality and justice within these two nations, a great deal of improvement must be made to grant these populations their basic human and civil rights.

Claire Fletcher



Feminism’s Approach to the Global North/Global South Dichotomy

With increased globalization comes an increased global awareness of the educational, financial and healthcare disparities between the women residing in the global north and the global south.  The global north/global south terminology is fairly new, and refers to developed nations in the northern hemisphere and the underdeveloped nations in the southern hemisphere, respectively.  With this increased awareness of women’s rights issues in the global south comes an expanded dialogue between feminists from all areas of the world concerning ways to remedy these disparities.  It is of the utmost importance that intersectionality is used to facilitate this dialogue so that feminists from all areas of the world can unite to improve the plight of disadvantaged women the world over.

Feminism as it is currently known was initially the domain of white, middle-class women in the United States, who remain famous for their righteous struggle for suffrage in the early 20th Century.  However, as the decades have progressed feminism has become more accessible to women of all ethnicities, classes and nationalities, and with this expansion came corresponding complexity.  Feminism has ceased to be the province of middle-class white American women, and feminists, particularly women of color and women from the global south, devised the concept of “intersectionality,” referring to the intricate ways in which aspects of gender, class, race, sexuality, age, religion, gender identity, nationality and ethnicity interact and intersect to shape the lives and experiences of women.

If expanded to the global scale, the current debate on intersectionality can be viewed as the microscopic correlation of the dialogue between feminists from the global north and the global south.  Just as they have been discussing the facets of intersectionality and how it interacts with the personal lives of women, feminists from throughout the world have also been attempting to ascertain the ways in which women from our global society can best work together to further our collective causes.

In their compelling and often heart-wrenching book Half the Sky, Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn focus their research on the human rights affecting women throughout the developing world.  They identify the importance of intersectionality on the global scale in a particularly eloquent way, writing,

The unfortunate reality is that women’s issues are marginalized, and in any case sex trafficking and mass rape should no more be seen as women’s issues than slavery was a black issue of the Holocaust was a Jewish issue.  These are all humanitarian concerns, transcending any one race, gender, or creed (2009: 234).

Kristoff and WuDunn chronicle the staggering number and breadth of injustices facing women worldwide, from female genital cutting, to maternal mortality, to sex slavery and honor killings.  Historically, according to Kristoff and WuDunn, American feminists have concentrated on issues facing them, rather than casting their gazes across continents, and focusing their efforts to fight the appalling wrongs committed against women.

But if we are to unite to fight the oppression of women in the global south, it is crucial to remember that it is the women themselves who best know the problems facing them, and will therefore be more able to identify possible solutions.  Mari J. Matsuda suggests that forming a feminist coalition is the way to circumvent the problems that arise from intersectionality.  She explains that examining a certain issue is difficult when those performing the analysis do not have in-depth, lived experience with the given issue.  Matsuda believes coalition is the including of individuals who have lived this issue, so that their experiences are help form the theory and action that can be used to affect change and help women.

Claire Fletcher


Despite rapid growth and increasing prosperity, India Continues to Let Girls Die

In a news story out today, the sex ratio of girls to boys under age 8 has worsened dramatically over the past decade. Ten years ago, there wree 927 females alive at age 8 for every 1000 boys alive. According to India’s most recent census it is now 914 females for every 1000 males alive at age 8. The article cites the availability of ultrasound for sex selective abortions and increasing rates of neglect and malnutrition in young girls being reported from urban hospitals. Families continue to want sons to continue the family line and provide for parents while viewing daughters as liabilities. The article also discusses organizatons inside India working for change. This article adds to the op-ed posted by Jessica Wagoner on the complex factors involved in this issue that is still a crucial problem in many parts of the world.

Rise in Cyberstalking a Danger to Women

This article describes how with the technological boom of recent years and the creation of social networking sites has impacted women in a frightening way. Women are often cyber-stalked and harassed by strangers of intimate partners via e-mail, text message and through social networking sites. They even cite an instance of a man posted his ex-girlfriend’s address on craigslist along with an ad asking for a man to go there and to act out a rape fantasy…only the women wasn’t in on it. There needs to be a serious reevaluation of how people use technology and social networking sites in order to guarantee our safety. – Lenna Jones (This article cites an ECU study!)


New Way of Looking at Title IX

This article brings new ways of dealing with Title IX for universities.  Title IX is a very controversial topic to most people but this article explains ways in which to work with Title IX.  Most universities do not know how to handle Title IX and end up cutting male programs to get extra cash and abide by the guidelines.  But this article explains that there are better ways to create female programs without cutting male programs all together.  I encourage all to check out this article and hopefully big universities can take notes.

-Kelly Thompson-

Indiana Cuts Funds to Planned Parenthood

Indiana Gov. Daniels said that he is going to sign a bill that would cut funds to Planned Parenthood, PP will attempt to file an injuction to appeal.  What this bill will do is cut $2 million of its Medicad funding.  Indiana says that MEdicad funding cannot be used for abortion at any place, but PP says that the Medicad funding is used for other things such as birth control and breast cancer screenings.  Speculations state that Daniels wants to run for president and this is his way of attracting social conservatives.  The this story is still developing but here is the link to this article:

Businesses in NY sign letter encouraging Gay Marriage

Business leaders in New York wrote a letter that states that they want legislation that would permit gay marriage.  The letter states that New York is losing business ground because individuals are moving to states that acknowledge gay marriage.  The letter is not addressed to anyone in particular but states the urgency that this is needed.  The governor of New York has already stated his support of gay marriage so maybe this letter will help his case.  Could this be a big advancement in New York legalizing gay marriage and could this possibly be a way that other states can get their Senate’s attention?  Here is the link to the article:

-Kelly Thompson-