Growing up a Korean woman Interview with Tina Lee

Tina is an educator born and raised in Queens and Brooklyn.  She is a daughter of Korean immigrants, which often puts her in spaces of feeling detached from her heritage but always a “foreigner.” 

What were the stereotypes of women in your culture growing up?

They should be obedient, good hosts, subservient, do the domestic work, and be successful…especially by marrying “well.”

What were the roles taught to you as a girl?

 You should always try to be slender, learn to cook, do well in school so you can make money, and reflect the family well.

What were the cultural expectations that existed for you as an adolescent girl?

Being a daughter of immigrants, they really wanted me to have more Korean friends, to know the language/culture better than I did, and to always listen to your parents.

Have you observed a difference in gender roles in your culture vs. other cultures?

Although there are similarities, Asian cultures really stress being successful and having bragging rights (mainly for families) but not really addressing what makes someone happy.

Have your views on what a woman’s role in society is, changed since you’re able to consider it on all levels at this point?

From learning and experiencing being a woman thus far, I know that despite what society and the world may say or think about us, we are so strong. So strong that it puts fear in men and results in toxic masculinity. 

Do you think there is a relationship between gender and culture?

I believe there absolutely is.  Intersectionality (the term coined by a Black professor, Kimberlé Crenshaw) of our identities and the power dynamics in the world affect us.  Being an Asian woman is different from the Asian male experience.  My sexuality, citizenship, socio-economic background, etc. all play a part in how I experience the world and often, how the world sees/treats me.

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