sidatron asked: I'm mostly just sick and tired of men criticizing women for how they want to spend their money. I have 된장녀 tendencies, but I spend my money on electronics/gadgets, and I know I'd get far less criticism for it than if I bought designer bags. I'm also just sick of criticism of Korean women (ok, and men) in general. As I'm sure you are, haha.
Yeah, I get that. Especially with the fact that I’m budgeting money for grad school now and Busan wants to “help”. I’m sure you can imagine what that looks like, at times. I’m not into the designer brand stuff either, but I have good friends who are, and are no less feminist for being so.
But I guess I’ve always understood the term 된장녀 to refer not to a woman who earns and spends her own money independent of anyone else’s influence, so much as a woman who is specifically driven by a need to appear rich and fashionable, who will sacrifice her own well-being in order to put up a front of a certain kind of acceptable and subscribed femininity. In other words, a woman who is still very much controlled by society’s expectations and empty validation. It’s not an empowering concept to me.
I do know what you mean about the term being loosely hurled around as though it’s a Korea-specific issue — it’s not. Koreans just have a specific term for it, which actually may mean Korean society is more aware of it as an issue. Of course, any term directed solely toward women will also be used as an excuse by some people to tear women down in general.
I think a more accurate term for what the original person may mean to address is 골드미스, who differs from the 된장녀 in that she chooses to avoid the pressure to marry and have children and maintain her career so that she keeps her financial freedom in tact, to just enjoy her own life, whether that means designer bags or travel, continued studies, her own apartment or miscellaneous other. She’s not necessarily motivated solely by the need to keep up public appearances, as is the 된장녀, but just genuinely wants to earn and keep her own money to support her own lifestyle, whatever that may mean.