The Big Question
Is Gender Central to Sense of Self? by Vidushi Sharma and Zachary Kligler


Vidushi Sharma is graduating from Ridgewood High School in New Jersey this spring and will attend Stanford University in the fall. She enjoys spending time outdoors, playing tennis, reading, and sketching scenes wherever she travels.
Zachary Kligler is a freshman at Saint Ann’s School. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Aside from writing, he enjoys rock climbing, and dancing.
Artwork by Caie Kelley
  1. Our gender is not central to what we are. It is merely a way of divining certain individuals. Anyone can be good, anyone can be evil, but among all of us, is there one with a pure soul? Is there one who is sacred above others, you deserves life? If there is, does it matter whether they are short or tall? Thick or thin? No. So why should it matter if such a person is a man or a woman?

  2. In S. Korean culture where I grew up around the time of The Korean War (1950s), I was constantly reminded by adults that I should have been born a boy. A boy was needed by every family ( the Confucian patriarchal value) not only in this life but for the happiness of dead ancestors, too. The son preference is one of the themes of my novel, The Voices of Heaven, published in 2014, along with the theme of the Korean War. When the female gender of a child, and later as an adult working in the society,is constantly drilled into one’s head as the wrong essence of one’s being, yes, gender BECOMES central to what we become. My life, and the lives of millions of girls and women in son preferring cultural spheres (China, India, Korea, N. Africa and other regions) cannot be separated from our gender. I offer my TEDx Talk of 2/22/14 on this topic.

    1) TEDx Talk, 2/22/2014, Seoul, Korea (18 minutes)

    2) Arirang live TV interview on 2/20/14. (6 minutes)

    If you feel the point made in it should reach wider circles of audiences, please feel free to share/post. Thank you. — Maija Rhee Devine ( (