In South Korea, gender has been commonly considered a manifestation of an unquestioned dichotomy between male and female domains, reflecting "official" Neo-Confucian views of male and female as inherently separate and unequal statuses. This study argues that we must move away from facile acceptance of male-female relations in contemporary South Korea. Rather, it proposes that there are levels of Korean behavior and cultural psychology in which the oppositions of "official culture" are subverted or otherwise deconstructed, principally by a process of gender identification. This deep psychological and cosmological emphasis on the essential equality and undifferentiated nature of male and female, coexisting with a radically gender-differentiated social structure, is seen as an inverse image of the ways gender is constructed in the United States, where efforts toward equality and nondifferentiation in social structure belie a fundamental psychological emphasis on conflict stemming from perceptions of absolute opposition and difference. It is suggested that we move beyond Western patterns of dichotomous conceptualization that have characterized so many discussions of gender to consider alternative ways of looking at male and female present in indigenous cultural psychologies.


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pp. 112-138
Launched on MUSE
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