In 1977 the prestigious Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, Korea, announced the opening of the first women’s studies program in Asia. Few academic programs have ever received such public attention. In broadcast debates, critics dismissed the program as a betrayal of national identity, an imitation of Western ideas, and a distraction from the real task of national unification and economic development. Even supporters underestimated the program; they thought it would be merely another of the many Western ideas that had already proved useful in Asian culture, akin to airlines, electricity, and the assembly line. The founders of the program, however, realized that neither view was correct. They had some reservations about the applicability of Western feminist theories to the role of women in Asia and felt that such theories should be closely examined. Their approach has thus far yielded important critiques of Western theory, informed by the special experience of Asian women.
For instance, like the Western feminist critique of the Freudian model of the human psyche, the Korean critique finds Freudian theory culture-bound, but in ways different from those cited by Western theorists. The Korean theorists claim that Freudian theory assumes the universality of the Western nuclear, male-headed family and focuses on the personality formation of the individual, independent of society. An analysis based on such assumptions could be valid for a highly competitive, individualistic society. In the Freudian family drama , family members are assumed to be engaged in a Darwinian struggle against each other—father against son and sibling against sibling. Such a concept projects the competitive model of Western society onto human personalities. But in the Asian concept of personality there is no ideal attached to individualism or to the independent self. The Western model of personality development does not explain major characteristics of the Korean personality, which is social and group-centered. The “self” is a social being defined by and acting in a group, and the well-being of both men and women is determined by the equilibrium of the group, not by individual self-assertion . The ideal is one of interdependency.
In such a context, what is recognized as “dependency” in Western psychiatric terms is not, in Korean terms, an admission of weakness or failure. All this bears directly on the Asian perception of men’s and women’s psychology because men are also “dependent.” In Korean culture, men cry and otherwise easily show their emotions, something that might be considered a betrayal of masculinity in Western culture. In the kinship-based society of Korea, four generations may live in the same house, which means that people can be sons and daughters all their lives, whereas in Western culture, the roles of husband and son, wife and daughter, are often incompatible.
Question: Which of the following best summarizes the content of the passage?
- A critique of a particular women’s studies program
- A report of work in social theory done by a particular women’s studies program
- An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a particular women’s studies program
- An analysis of the philosophy underlying women’s studies programs
- An abbreviated history of Korean women’s studies programs
Question: It can be inferred from the passage that Korean scholars in the field of women’s studies undertook an analysis of Freudian theory as a response to which of the following?
- Attacks by critics of the Ewha women’s studies program
- The superficiality of earlier critiques of Freudian theory
- The popularity of Freud in Korean psychiatric circles
- Their desire to encourage Korean scholars to adopt the Freudian model
- Their assessment of the relevance and limitations of Western feminist theory with respect to Korean culture
Question: Which of the following conclusions about the introduction of Western ideas to Korean society can be supported by information contained in the passage?
- Except for technological innovations, few Western ideas have been successfully transplanted into Korean society.
- The introduction of Western ideas to Korean society is viewed by some Koreans as a challenge to Korean identity.
- The development of the Korean economy depends heavily on the development of new academic programs modeled after Western programs.
- The extent to which Western ideas must be adapted for acceptance by Korean society is minimal.
- The introduction of Western ideas to Korean society accelerated after 1977.
Question: It can be inferred from the passage that the broadcast media in Korea considered the establishment of the Ewha women’s studies program
Question: It can be inferred from the passage that the position taken by some of the supporters of the Ewha women’s studies program was problematic to the founders of the program because those supporters
- assumed that the program would be based on the uncritical adoption of Western theory
- failed to show concern for the issues of national unification and economic development
- were unfamiliar with Western feminist theory
- were not themselves scholars in the field of women’s studies
- accepted the universality of Freudian theory
Question: Which of the following statements is most consistent with the view of personality development held by the Ewha women’s studies group?
- Personality development occurs in identifiable stages, beginning with dependency in childhood and ending with independence in adulthood.
- Any theory of personality development, in order to be valid, must be universal.
- Personality development is influenced by the characteristics of the society in which a person lives.
- Personality development is hindered if a person is not permitted to be independent.
- No theory of personality development can account for the differences between Korean and Western culture.
Question: Which of the following statements about the Western feminist critique of Freudian theory can be supported by information contained in the passage?
- It recognizes the influence of Western culture on Freudian theory.
- It was written after 1977.
- It acknowledges the universality of the nuclear, male-headed family.
- It challenges Freud’s analysis of the role of daughters in Western society.
- It fails to address the issue of competitiveness in Western society.
Question: According to the passage, critics of the Ewha women’s studies program cited the program as a threat to which of the following?
- I. National identity
- II. National unification
- III. Economic development
- IV. Family integrity
- I only
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