Open Thread #1

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( Source: RaySoda )

Why didn’t I think of this months ago?^^

With the proviso that most visitors to a blog about gender and sexuality are usually rather disappointed with what they find(!), the good news is that the popularity of my blog has grown dramatically in recent months, and I really enjoy and appreciate all the additional comments and emails I’ve been getting as a result.

( Source: RaySoda )

Why didn’t I think of this months ago?^^

With the proviso that most visitors to a blog about gender and sexuality are usually rather disappointed with what they find(!), the good news is that the popularity of my blog has grown dramatically in recent months, and I really enjoy and appreciate all the additional comments and emails I’ve been getting as a result.

Unfortunately though, all that’s coincided with a much heavier workload at my job. And with a non-working spouse and two young daughters on top of that, then I literally have only about an hour each night to devote to the blog these days.

You’ve probably already noticed the reduction in the number of posts. While I think I’m still pretty good at responding to comments though, that’s definitely at the expense of emails from readers, and I constantly have a backlog of about 20 or so in my in-box. Usually relatively long, intelligently written, and interesting, I consider it a real achievement if I manage to reply to about 3 or 4 in a week.

And as new ones come in, then older ones tend to get further and further down the screen. Some people must surely have given up on me by now, for which I apologize.

But I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t want to be emailed: quite the opposite. And the delay with some isn’t entirely due to my lack of time. More, it’s because I’m not actually the most appropriate person to answer their questions, either because I simply don’t know, and/or I can’t help, however much I’d like to.

In nine-tenths of those cases though, I’d be surprised if readers couldn’t.

I realize what that may sound like: getting my readers to do my work for me. And sure, maybe I am.^^ But by no means is anybody obliged to(!), and regardless it’s surely better to have questions and requests for help getting to the right people rather than have them languishing in my in-box.

( Source: RaySoda )

Those are just one purpose of having a weekly open thread though, and not necessarily the primary one. The other is to give me a place where I can mention things that are still interesting but which I don’t have time to further develop into a blog post, or – more importantly – for you to bring up and discuss things yourself. Naturally I’d prefer things related to gender, sexuality, advertising and pop-culture, and preferably Korean too, but I’m extremely flexible. And by all means please feel free to link and discuss your own blog posts and so on: with my schedule, that’s probably the only way I’d ever find out about them!

With that in mind, let me provide a few things to get the ball rolling. First, a problem someone emailed me about. I’ve removed the author’s details because – surprise, surprise – I haven’t had time to ask permission to reproduce it publicly sorry, but I’ll make sure to let them know as soon as I can!

…Adoptees, such as myself, who have visited Korea often tend to come back either angry or induced with yellow-fever.  It has often left me wary of my own trip, pending next year and I have been trying to acclimate myself about Korea & culture before visiting.  Korean immigrants often wax poetic about their home country and refuse to discuss anything negative about it.

The reason I’m contacting you, besides to thank you for the well-written pieces, is because I wondered if you have any insight into the adoption attitude in Korea.  So much of what I have read in articles about Korea and how they are addressing adoption is very optimistic and pro-active – they have stated they intend to phase out all international adoptions by 2012.  Yet, from what I understand from other adoptees and social workers, the reason why Korea has such a history of adoption-”exportation” is partly due to the attitudes of single mothers, contraception, and blood-only attitudes.  Most Korean immigrants or visitors immediately apologize when the issue of adoption comes up but then refuse to discuss the topic.  I still don’t have a clear picture of the Korean attitude and was wondering if you have any insight to share.


( Source: Center for Korean Studies )

And now an interesting point from another email to get some discussion going:

…I enjoy reading your blog tremendously, it is exactly the sort of things I like to think about. I’ve obviously noted that women here in Korea act more “childish” and traditionally feminine than in Europe. In [the European country I’m from] there isn’t really a strong focus on gender or gender roles that much, but women act much more masculine, engaging in sports frequently and heavy drinking. The behavioral difference between genders there is not so great. Still, men occasionally make their silent effort to “out-man” women, by not allowing their girl to become stronger than them, or by trying to unnerve them or trying to have the upper hand. This is all very subtle, and they won’t admit to it usually. In Korea, where the threshold for being more masculine than your girl is so low, it isn’t strange that men allow themselves to adopt relatively feminine characteristics. At the same time they maintain a very macho attitude, to contrast the very femi attitude adopted by women. This is confusing, but interesting all the same.

I’d never considered that, and it puts a interesting spin on all the posts about the development of Korean heterosexuality I’ve written (see “My Constantly Evolving Thesis Topic” on my sidebar). If that’s not up your alley though, then consider Brian in Jeollanam-do’s comment to this post of mine instead, in which he suggests that bottoms are generally viewed asexually in Korea. After reading it, I decided to test his hypothesis by taking a poll of my students’ opinions of the advertisement I wrote about there:

And I’d be interested in hearing what your own (adult) students and Korean friends and partners think too. Personally, while my two classes of 20 and 30-somethings are hardly representative of Koreans as a whole, I see no reason to think that they’re particularly unrepresentative either. And guess what? Only about a fifth of them saw the dancing in that as at all sexual, which simply astounded me…

Finally though, this is the weekend, so the person who writes the best caption to this next wins a free beer when they’re next in my part of Busan!

( Source: RaySoda )

Hello Mr. TurnballI’ve been reading your blog/site for the last 6 months and I find it to be very insightful and very well thought out.  I appreciate such a 3rd point of view.  Your blog was recommended to me by another Korean adoptee who visited Korea in search of her own answers.  Compared to talking with recent visitors or new immigrants, your reviews & thoughts about Korean society seems more helpful.

Adoptees, such as myself, who have visited Korea often tend to come back either angry or induced with yellow-fever.  It has often left me wary of my own trip, pending next year and I have been trying to acclimate myself about Korea & culture before visiting.  Korean immigrants often wax poetic about their home country and refuse to discuss anything negative about it.

The reason I’m contacting you, besides to thank you for the well-written pieces, is because I wondered if you have any insight into the adoption attitude in Korea.  So much of what I have read in articles about Korea and how they are addressing adoption is very optimistic and pro-active – they have stated they intend to phase out all international adoptions by 2012.  Yet, from what I understand from other adoptees and social workers, the reason why Korea has such a history of adoption-”exportation” is partly due to the attitudes of single mothers, contraception, and blood-only attitudes.  Most Korean immigrants or visitors immediately apologize when the issue of adoption comes up but then refuse to discuss the topic.  I still don’t have a clear picture of the Korean attitude and was wondering if you have any insight to share.

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