Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yes, I breed

There has been a lot of shit spread about blogging and bloggers. Some of it is justified, but generally I think that people who write blogs about boring or egotistical bloggers are just ... boring and egotistical, PLUS TWO because they A) obviously missed out on the logic train and B) are mean spirited. The good news is that chronically mean people go to a little "special" corner of hell when they die where they have to eat rainbow ice cream all day long and watch cute puppies lick each other. They suffer later, my bloggy friends. Don't worry.

Anyway, for ME (why waste time being egotistical here), there is one big benefit to blogging. And it is simply that I can express myself, give an opinion, talk about issues, raise questions or just VENT - and nobody is going to judge me. Or they can judge me - but really all I am is a name. I don't have to worry about you giving me dirty looks tomorrow or bringing up something I said in a blog post at tomorrow's meeting and holding it against me. It also gives me a freedom to speak without being interrupted. And gives me time to think about a response if someone disagrees. This lack of accountability requires maturity and caution I think - but for the average person (perhaps more often more for women who usually have a greater emotional investment in being seen as "good" and "nice") - this freedom is liberating. I can say what I want. Whew.

But this isn't really an exegesis on the state of blogging. I really wanted to use that as a (long) preamble to what happened to me today.

Today I had my first meeting of the semester with my new students. I teach very advanced and educated adults, both men and women, aged 30-40. I teach this group several courses, none of which are easy. They are not conversation classes. I gave them my syllabus, course outline, and a brief overview of my expectations. Also, because I know this is important to them - I told them about my degrees (several) and research interests (specific and lucid) and about my future plans (academic and respectable). I did not boast. I also told them I was married, that I have a child, and that I speak some Korean. I did not elaborate too much. I told a few jokes. And then I invited questions. These were the questions they asked:

1) Where did you meet your husband?
2) Do you like Korean men?
3) What would you do if you liked one if your male students?
4) How do you discipline your child?
5) Do you want to have another baby?
6) How are Korean men different from foreign men?
7) I like your shoes. Where do you buy your clothing?
8) What does your husband do for a living?
Now it seems to me there is a real need here. These students really seem to have a burning desire to be informed about foreigners, our relationships, our childb(r)e(r)aring and our fashion habits. And I don't want to scorn them for wanting that. Honestly. I was sitting in a room full of highly educated, intelligent people and it would be horribly arrogant of me to dismiss their curiosity as stupidity or rude (because, I know, then I have to ask - rude by whose standards?) but I couldn't help feeling really fcuking bummed out. Because even if I accept that their curiosity is legitimate and that their questions are aimed to please - I also have to concede that they saw me - my primary function - as a wom(b)an with a husband and a baby. And that IS a huge part of my life but it's not the only part. And it wasn't why I was standing in front of them. I mean, there wasn't even one teeny, weeny, token question about my course. Not even something lame like: "how much homework will you give?" or "will you take off points for absents?". Nothing. Nothing except husband, kid and shopping.

I got pushed around on the subway 16.8 times this week. I almost got smote by 7 buses and 6 cars, 4 people asked me if I was Russian, 2 men tried to pick me up (I'm aging, I guess), 1 ajumma tried to pluck my grey hair and one crazy dude followed me around Line 4 screaming obscenities about foreigners - and I just thought it was a regular week in Korea.

But today? Today got me really low.


daninbusiness said...

Hang in there...it was just the first day of class; hopefully you can lead your students with some thought-provoking discussion that will show them that you are far more than a baby-producing machine.

It might take a little time, however, and is not about to happen overnight.

Watch a funny movie or something if that helps.

Ryan said...

Don't worry, that is just korean culture. I have visited korea before, and have a korean gf, and just to let u know, its a part of their culture to ask questions like the ones' u've just mentioned. It is not considered rude to them, and quite common, although to a westerner it does seem very forward. Also, the shoving without apologizing is also normal. if its just a little shove, they just assume that u knew it wasn't intentional. the only time they would openly apologize is if they actually knocked u down. Hope i've helped, and hope u enjoy your stay!

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



kissmykimchi said...

I echo the earlier sentiments. First day you want to know the friviolous things about your teacher to help break the ice and forge a connection. Later the nuts and bolts of class can get sorted out.

chin up!

hmm i just noticed this blog entry of yours is months ago heh.

Bobby McGill said...

Worry not, there is always tomorrow, and several drivers who will give you more attention than you desire. I only get like 4-5 a week.


Korean Rum Diary said...

Regarding that last paragraph - God lord, that's a typical week in Korea... But damn, I'm glad I have a penis. Life would be a lot tougher here (I guess) if I were a white female, rather than a white male. I get shouted at, spit on, stared at... I don't think I could handle guys hitting on me, or old women grooming me.

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