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A Study on the Crack of Binary Gender System in Chosun Dynasty : Focussing on the Stories of Eunuchs and Their Wives

Cho, Hyun Woo 1

1인천대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this paper is to present eunuchs of Chosun Dynasty had brought about gender trouble and crack in the binary gender system which seems to be very strong and logical. The eunuchs, who have been castrated and are incapable of reproduction, were the public officials to assist kings and the patriarch with legal wife and son. In that respect it can be said the eunuchs were publicly certified as men. But eunuchs were not men also. Because of castration, they could work in palace where was the place forbidden to men except king and his family. There are no paternal blood relationship between eunuchs and their descendants, even though the family of eunuchs looks like an ideal patriarchy. Because of this duplicity eunuchs have been regarded as neither men nor women in Chosun Dynasty so that they could not belong to the binary gender system in which human beings are divide into two clear-cut groups of women and men. In Yadam(野談), there are stories in which eunuch gave his wife to a man selected randomly. The man has made a big fortune including the beauty, the government service and wealth on a single occasion, just because he has not been castrated. In another stories, there are men who were convinced that they could have good luck from a sexual relationship between eunuchs’ wives. They are regarded themselves as the savior. In these stories, eunuchs’ wives are represented as the overly sexual women who only long for the sexual intercourse with penetration. But this representation of eunuchs and their wives paradoxically illuminates various contradictions and dilemmas of the binary gender system. Eunuchs and their wives belong to the legal patriarchy and obey the rule of patriarchy, so they made gender trouble with patriarchy. This paper finally offers that the full-fledged research on eunuchs and their wives are urgently demanded to overcome gender essentialism on the binary gender system.

Citation status

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