The Power of Ambivalence: Using
Ambivalence as a Healing Resource for Asian Women
in the Confucian Context
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract The purpose of this article is to explore the power of Bcultivated ambivalence^ in
the task of constructing Confucian feminism. Such resources of cultivated and radical ambiv-
alence create a Bthird space^ in which Asian women can be true both to themselves and to their
ambivalence. In this space, they would be empowered to Btalk back^ to both Confucian
traditions and Western liberal feminism.
As a result of modernization and globalization, Asian women in Confucian contexts encounter
the approaches to women’s issues which are radically different from their own traditions.
Among the different approaches, Western liberal feminism is the most challenging one to
Asianwomen,particularlyasitpertainstoissuesofwomen’s social roles, gender identities,
political and economic equality, reproductive freedom, etc. Western liberal feminism is rooted
in the claims of the individual woman’s rights and freedoms, whereas Confucian traditions
emphasize family, community, harmony, and relationship as their core values. Even in a
thoroughly globalized world, Confucianism remains an undeniable part of many Asian
cultures, including of the Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese cultures.
Traditional Confucian values are deeply inscribed in many of these Asian lives, but particularly
in Koreans since their adaptation of Confucianism as a national religion in 1392. Yet people in
the Confucian society have felt the pressures of modernization along with its Western liberal
* Insook Lee
New York Theological Seminary, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 500, New York, NY 10025, USA