I just ordered a pizza online. No biggie, I do that at least once a month. Only this time, I wanted to try out a new place and ended up being super annoyed when I finally placed the order. First of all, I had to scroll really far down the menu to find anything that did not involve fruit or potatoes as the main pizza topping. Second, my size options were “Medium, Large, and Big Large”. Seriously, Korea?! What happened to S, M, and L? What really offended me, though, was that the website suggested the pineapple pizza to me with this wording “The creamy cheese mixed with sweet pineapple is a preferred choice among women”. Oh, thank you. So just because I’m a girl you think I’d like a fruity pizza? No thanks. Needless to say, I ordered something entirely different.
I’ve noticed recently that my patience with such matters seems to be tested again and again. There is no doubt that Korea is an extremely sexist country. Men rule everything and women should preferably just be quiet, pretty and accommodating. I knew that when I moved here, but I recently feel increasingly appalled and frustrated whenever someone tries to mansplain things to me or comments on me being a woman. Just the other day, I was leaving work around 6 pm when I ran into two of my older male colleagues in the elevator. In an effort to make small talk, one of them asked if I was still living at my current place together with my husband. When I said yes, he retorted in a joking manner partly to me, and partly to the other professor in the elevator: “Oh, so maybe your husband even cooks you dinner, hahaha.” I refused to take this as a joke and calmly replied that, in fact, he always cooks dinner and also does the dishes too. This left the two gentlemen speechless until we reached the ground floor.
This may seem innocuous, but like I wrote in my previous post A Korean promise, it actually seems to become harder rather than easier to come to terms with these cultural differences. I’ve been struggling to try to figure out why it seems harder now than it did in the beginning. Surely, no one experiences a culture shock with so much delay. Maybe not, but in my effort to diagnose my lack of patience with Korean culture, I have come across the term cultural fatigue. Apparently, this can happen when you suddenly realize that what used to be funny, quirky, or even exotic encounters has turned into a daily nuisance. This quote sums it up quite nicely:
Cultural fatigue often happens when you get to a point in a culture where you can still see the riddles, but realize that you will never be able to answer them, yet obsessively continue trying anyway.
Well, I guess that may be just what I’m feeling these days. Anyone with similar experiences? Do share!