Saturday, July 14, 2012

My PENIS is BETTER than your PENIS*

Backstory:  A few months back I wrote a post titled MY PENIS IS BIGGER THAN YOUR PENIS.  In this post I wrote about two Korean couples.  One couple (I called them couple B in this story) endlessly talked about how Korea was better than Canada.  That night I almost stood up at the dinner table and said "why don't you take your kimchi refrigerator and go back to Korea!", but I bit my tongue.  I spoke politely.  I smiled.  It was clear that this man (since he was the only one talking) was not going to open up or change his mind.

This is the same couple that had to buy a BIGGER house than their friends, just because.  I titled that post MY HOUSE IS BIGGER THAN YOUR HOUSE.


This is turing into a pissing contest of comparatives.  I'm calling this post My PENIS is BETTER than your PENIS.  This time penis refers to culture.

We invited our good Korean friends (not couple B) to our house 10 (or so) weeks ago for Samgyupsal (that's Korean fried pork).  After dinner Sung Hyun started cleaning up.  He tided up the dishes and wiped the dinner table.  I sat with our friends and talked.  We had a great night together. We had a few beers and it was one night when our Korean friends could get away from their children and just relax.

About two weeks later Sung Hyun went over to their house (alone) to help our friends with something.  This was one of the first times he met them by himself, usually we do couple things together.  Anyways our Korean friends sat Sung Hyun down to talk with him in private.  First they apologized and said that they were sorry.  They said he works so hard and makes a lot of money so they feel bad for him that he has to do things around the house and I do nothing (at this time I was working full-time and part-time and taking a grad class).

Of course Sung Hyun told them that we share the responsibilities in the house and that we both make money.  But that didn't seem to matter.  To them, he should be doing NOTHING and I should be ever so grateful that he comes home with a paycheck.  The fact that I work outside the home and am studying to get my Masters is irrelevant.  That's a lovely double-edged sword.

"If you worked just as hard and just as many hours at McDonalds and make minimum wage, would they still think you work so hard?", I asked Sung Hyun after he told me this story.

"Of course not!"  he replied.  It's all about the money. 

I was angered at first.  Sung Hyun told me this story when we were talking about perspectives.  He actually wasn't going to tell me what happened but this story came about when we talked about only being able to see, and thus interpret a situation, from very limited information.  And to demonstrate that what actually goes on inside the home isn't portrayed.  He was actually teaching me a lesson about judgement.  If this conversation didn't come up he would have never told me about what happened with our Korean friends.  In fact, he prefaced the story by saying "I'm going to tell you what (couple A) thinks about our relationship, but please don't get angry."

I wasn't mad at Sung Hyun for sharing this information with me.  I was actually hurt that my friends would pull Sung Hyun aside to talk to him in private.  If the couple wanted to engage in a constructive debate about prescribed gender roles then they could have brought it up over dinner that night, to my face.  But that wouldn't be the Korean way.

The thing is I'm CANADIAN, not Korean.  WE live in CANADA now, not Korea.  We balance our cultures.  We find a way to make it work for us. 

But to our Korean friends, we have to do it the Korean way.  And so Sung Hyun's PENIS will always be BETTER than my PENIS*.

  *  Sorry for the obscene play on words.


Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Wow, I would be hurt by that too.

Diana E. Sung said...

I won't respond to the content of the blog at this time (need to think about it more), but I did want to point out that if you use the word penis that many times in your blog, you will attract some very odd internet search attention...

Anonymous said...

Oh Goodness, I am so not surprised to hear this story. Why? Because you are talking about a Korean couple. Many times my husband, who is Korean, has had to deal with situations that basically involve gossiping, being nosey, and shit stirring. In fact, after so many incidents of this type of shit stirring, my husband no longer wants any Korean friends. Whenever we talk about him not having any Korean friends, he always says, "Why do you avoid dog shit? Because it's messy or because it stinks?" In my opinion, there is just something going on culturally, that makes the lot feel that it is their duty to say these things. Lastly, I have experienced being on the other side of it and it hurts. WHY do they have to be so nice and cheery to your face, and when you are not around they waiting to pounce? It's like they are smiling to your face, and clenching a knife behind their back.
~Your friend, Annonymous Coffee Table

Jacky said...

I know about the 'penis' mentions in blogs...I get quite a bit of attention on my penis park post. Well, I can't say I blame you for being angry either. In western culture, it's insulting to say that just because you make more money that you work harder than someone else. I mean, all of the people that work in NPOs are not raking in the money but they work just as hard if not harder than the people in the private sectors doing the same thing for a lot more money.

Definitely be glad that SH told you. If it were me, I'd either want to confront them or cease being friends with them if they were going to belittle me behind my back. If not those, then I'm pretty sure my trust in them would be greatly diminished. That's just me though...Good luck and I hope this can be resolved with a happy ending. I wouldn't want to lose a friendship, but I'd want people that can understand my position too--if they can't, then they're not very good friends. (Understanding is an important part of any relationship.)

Anonymous said...

Didnt you mention in an earlier post that you are home every afternoon and yet your husband still had to ask that you make dinner at least a couple of times a week?

Doesnt he work long hours as a welder, six days a week?

I dont see this as a Korean thing, just you taking advantage of his good nature. If the roles were reversed would you be happy to come in and cook for him whilst he'd spent the afternoon on the internet?

Why am I here??? said...

Anon. Dude, I don't like cooking. But if you'd like a detailed account of all the other chores I do around the house so you can keep tabs then email me at: joking aside, yes my husband works 10 hours a day 4 days a week, then 8 hours a day on Friday and Saturday. This week he was sent home at noon 3 out of the 5 days he worked b/c of weather. I was picking up extra shifts as a sub other places so I'm not ALWAYS sitting on the couch and eating potato chips :)

As for him cleaning up after dinner (for 5 min.) in front of our Korean friends? That's ridiculous that an action like that would get him pulled to the side and pitied. Really? The funny thing that no one did that to me in Korea when I was paying his mom's rent (something a Korean woman would NEVER be expected to do when they are dating a Korean man). So let's not forget that our relationship from the start is unique and really can't be defined by either Western or Korean standards! Thanks for you input Anon. and Jacky. I'm using this as a learning tool to teach our friends that there are other ways to do things.

Anonymous said...

Gawd there are some mad haters reading this blog. Shake 'em off, Jenn!
~Coffee table

Why am I here??? said...

Hi Coffee table,

I'm going to take another picture of my buffet table so you can weigh in on that (because you had a lot to say about my living room). And YES, there are some haters here aren't there! That's okay with the good....comes the bad!