The Sexism Issue in the K-pop Fandom, Bad Girl, Good Girl: the Feminist Question

I first saw the “Kissing You” video by Girls’ Generation back in 2008, in the gloomy era before YouTube videos in 1080p. I was a new Super Junior fan eager to see Donghae’s cameo; I didn’t even know the group, let alone care about them, but the corny sets and fairy-tale costumes immediately won me over. It was a breath of fresh air to see and hear girls my age that I could relate to after years of choosing to listen to all-male bands. I had developed into a devoted superfan by the time “Genie” was released.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that being a fan of a girl group – or a fan of any female artist in the K-Pop world – is very different from supporting a boy band. While the pelvic thongs and T-shirts of boy groups like Big Bang and 2PM were praised in the online K-Pop circles I frequented, “Genie” drew criticism for having a “simplistic” lyrics. to show off SNSD’s legs. When “Oh!” came out six months later, the girls suddenly “too young”. Instead of having fun, I spent most of my early days defending myself.

In this way, being a sociologist of female artists, and to a lesser extent, the experience of being a woman in contemporary society – always stands for herself and others against sexist criticism while fighting for her voice. world. Ten years ago, I didn’t have the words or education to share the misogyny in K-Pop and its fandom. I’m doing it now. The fandom values ​​and attitudes surrounding Korean female artists are undeniable and easy to uncover.

Questions About Women

Although feminism itself is still a controversial concept, as many female celebrities have shown their rejection of it, the watershed messages of female empowerment are gaining traction. and global pop culture. Companies such as Dove, Nike, and Pantene have challenged gender stereotypes and promoted acceptance in their advertising, but women writers have asked an important question: does this message continue when home delivery service? If Dove’s sister company is using sexist ads and Nike is exploiting Asian women for cheap labor, does it matter that they tell some women to love themselves?

Similar issues are at the fore in discussions about feminism among female K-Pop artists. Can we praise women artists as progressives when men control most of their images and products? Is it about a woman singing about love? With traditional designs and colors prevalent in K-Pop, is it possible to move forward? These questions are important and difficult, this discussion cannot, and should not be limited to this topic. The subculture seen in videos like CL’s “The Baddest Female” and T-ara’s “YaYaYa” cannot be ignored, nor can blackface and the mocking of dark skin by men be ignored. and women in the show. For example, in the video below, Girls’ Generation’s Yuri is teased for having different skin from her other members.

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Are there songs, videos, and even non-female performers in K-Pop? Absolutely. Many videos show transformations involving dramatic weight gain, heavy makeup, or cosmetic surgery as a way to boost self-esteem or get a boyfriend, Hyomin’s “Nice Body” is the latest. Other videos encourage girls to fight for boys, and even missing A’s “I don’t want a man” puts “other girls” who don’t care about their own money to shame. But there is still a little progress we need to pay attention to. It is still true that the Korean entertainment industry is heavily dominated by men, some of whom, like the infamous head of Open World Entertainment, exploit female actors and producers. them.

Most of the top songwriters in the industry, including Shinsadong Tiger, Brave Brothers, Teddy, and JYP, are men. Even in this male-dominated industry, however, there are women making their voices heard. Like their male counterparts, idols like IU, CL, SPICA, and SNSD have the ability to write and record their own songs. Kenzie has worked under SM Entertainment for over a decade, writing many of their songs and “One More Chance”, an unofficial but unmistakable female anthem promoted by The Grace’s Dana on Sunday. There’s also Kim Eana, the singer who worked on almost all of IU and Brown Eyed Girls’ latest, as well as Ga-in’s “Irreversible” and “Bloom.” Most of these songs written by women, of course, are about heteronormative love, but they talk about love and sex from a feminist perspective – a concept that is not relevant in pop culture.

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These and many other factors, which I won’t get into here, make female K-Pop performers deserving of your regard. Female musicians are some of the most significant and successful figures in contemporary K-Pop, while having to contend with the forces of colorism and neo-colonialism in addition to a sexist global society that critiques their every move or omission. And as the globe continues to advance, these musicians’ influence in both the recording studio and the boardroom will only increase.