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Dear xxxxx,

Hi, how are you? I remembered you have expressed your interest in one of the courses
that I am currently taking- Thinking Women. I hope by the end; you could get to know
more about how I feel about such a thought-provoking course.
First thing first, it came to my astonishment to understand how feminism could be so
disparate from my first understanding. At first, I thought feminism was a notion of
endeavouring to place ones superior status over men and seen as ludicrous and profound.
However, shortly after, it appeared to me that it was of a completely opposite meaning which
was the aim at equality for both men and women. In the past, women were not considered as
normal but other. When we read Beauvoirs The Second Sex (1949), she mentioned that
women were believed to be incidental and inessential, while men were the subject and
absolute. Adding that, Aristotle referred women as a monstrosity of mutilated male and
reproductive failure in his Generation of Animals (350 BC). Such contrasting belief also
existed in China, where Confucianism addressed the yin and yang. The former is superior
as men and the latter is inferior as women. (Aiston, 2015)
Given such arbitrary sayings, women no longer held back their dissatisfactory
thoughts and began to strive for their equality. In the 19 th century, there was the first-wave
feminism throughout the world, particularly in the United Kingdom, which women demanded
the fundamental rights such as right to read and to be educated. (Aiston, 2015) To my
perception, such rights are never neglected in present days, where the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights stated that All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
(Art. 1) To further enhance my understandings, I have started distinguishing how feminism
was involved in myriad of aspects, such as education, medicine and health, dress and politics.
Throughout the world, girls face the barrier of education when boys do not. Provided
that 66 million girls are still out of school (UNESCO), the issue about womens rights to
education was suppressed remained as a hypothetical issue in various parts of the world, like
India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Breathtakingly, I was shocked to find out such hardships that
girls faced had never been so real before in the movie Girl Rising (2013). Suma, one of those
girls in Nepal, inspired me the most. She had to bond herself to the masters as a kamlari.
for a living since six, which never allowed her to go to school. Fortunately, she was set at the
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age of seventeen, and with the enrolment to school, she grew determination to help other girls
not suffer her same fate. However, not every girl is as privileged as Suma, as limited
resources and early pregnancy are some factors which hinder them from gaining access to
education.
Frankly, not only did women gained less access to education than men, they were also
diagnosed with depressive disorders (41.9%) more frequently than men (29.3%). (Aiston,
2015) I was dismayed at the situation in China, where Chinese doctors under-diagnosed
depression in women on the belief of them being more susceptible to be possessed by spirits.
Meanwhile, I have come across to Phyllis Chesters Women and Madness (2005), she fought
against the bias in women which they were characterized as hysterical and mad.
Peculiarly, I had quoted one of her sayings from the book which I was typically astonished at
and started to view women in strength rather than delicacy:
Women do not have to forsake the "wisdom of the heart" and become men. They
need never to the point of self-sacrifice.1
I also found the topic of dressing quite interesting, especially when it comes to the
traditional restraints and free choices to make as a comparison in both past and modern
societies. In Iran, 99.4% of the Iranians are Muslims. (Pewforum, 2009) I was shocked to
know how the Iranian revolution wholly changed the westernized clothing to a highly
conservative one, where hijabs were set as womens every-day wear under the Islamic Law.
While women wore them for religious and identity purposes, Islamic feminists suggested the
importance of womens freedom of choice in clothing.
Last but not least, the last topic which will be covered in the upcoming lectures is
politics. I found one of the readings, which talks about the politics in gender in Korea under
Japanese colonization quite captivating. Theodore Jun Yoo (2009) had emphasized the
transformation of womens traditional thoughts to modernized ones influenced, for example
the life portrayed by Choe Yng-suk. I hope the lecture will give me bit more understanding
on this part.

1 Phyllis Chester, Women and Madness (2005), p. 348


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In a few words, I hope you dont get a wrong message about how this course would be
boring, as I can definitely ascertain you that you can widen your horizons about feminism and
thinking women.
Best Wishes,
xxxxx

References:
1. Simone, B. (1949). The Second Sex. Retrieved from
https://nashvillefeministart.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/1949_simone-de-beauvoirthe-second-sex.pdf
2. Aristotle. (1949, July 5). Generation of Animals. Retrieved from
https://archive.org/details/generationofanim00arisuoft
3. Aiston, S. (2015). Lecture 2: Women as Other [11]. Retrieved from CCHU9043
Moodle site: http://moodle.hku.hk/mod/resource/view.php?id=679880
4. Aiston, S. (2015). Lecture 3: Education [14]. Retrieved from CCHU9043 Moodle
site: http://moodle.hku.hk/mod/resource/view.php?id=679879
5. Aiston, S. (2015). Lecture 5: Medicine and Health [10]. Retrieved from CCHU9043
Moodle site: http://moodle.hku.hk/mod/resource/view.php?id=634086
6. The U.N. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
7. PewResearch Centre. (2009, Oct 7). Mapping the Global Muslim Population.
Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2009/10/07/mapping-the-global-muslimpopulation/
8. Theodore, J. (2009). The Biography of Choe Yng-suk and the Politics of Gender in
Colonial Korea. Retrieved from CCHU9043 Moodle site:
http://moodle.hku.hk/pluginfile.php/984777/mod_resource/content/1/gender
%20politics%20in%20korea.pdf
9. Phyllis, C. (2005). Women and Madness. Retrieved from
http://www.amazon.com/Women-Madness-Revised-Phyllis-Chesler/dp/1403968977
10. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (2014). Out-of School Children: New Data Reveal
Persistent Challenges. Retrieved from
http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Pages/out-of-school-children-data-release.aspx
11. Girl Rising. (2013). Suma in Nepal. Retrieved from http://girlrising.com/about-thefilm/suma-in-nepal/