People all around the world have different perceptions of feminism. At its core, it means equality between people from all genders, sexes, religions, classes, castes, races, and economic backgrounds. However, many people think of it as women trying to establish their dominance over men.
This belief does not have much impact on the proponents of feminism. They sometimes try to hold a discussion with people who think this way, but if that doesn’t result in anything, they begin to ignore people. Safe to say that this is the healthy way of dealing with these people.
However, this belief has had disastrous effects in Korea.
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WHAT IS THE STATE OF FEMINISM IN KOREA?
The state of feminism in Korea is that it should not exist. While in other countries “feminist” would be a proud identity, in Korea, it brings about backlash.
Because of its history, feminism in Korea is equated with misandry.
Korean feminism is headed by radical feminism. Various online communities adopted different methods to highlight problems or to bring about changes that they felt were important.
One such website was Megalia. This website adopting the “mirroring” method to highlight the derogatory comments aimed at women. They used terms like Hannam-choong (male pest), Jotsplain (dicksplain, a reference to mansplain), and Gisaengchoong (parasite, referring to the male fetus) among others.
According to a former user, the aim behind this was to make males understand the kind of behaviour that women have to endure, and how it is not okay for males to do so.
However, instead of understanding the purpose behind this activity, people opposed this website and forced it to shut down in 2017.
These mirroring methods were commonly practised across the country. Hence, they became the face of feminism in the country. As a result, feminism was now understood and women justifying misandry.
The backlash faced by women who label themselves as feminist is extreme. Even women don’t use that label, but use slogans of women empowerment are made to face extreme backlash.
Son Na-eun is a member of the K-pop girl group Apink. She uploaded a picture of herself, in which her phone case was visible. She was labelled as a feminist because her phone case said “Girls Can Do Anything.” The picture invited intense backlash, and Na-eun was forced to delete the picture.
However, these beliefs cannot be used to discount feminism’s achievements in Korea.
WHAT HAS RADICAL FEMINISM ACHIEVED IN THE COUNTRY?
Communities all over the country have contributed to the success of feminism in a male-dominated country. One way or the other, they helped women win rights in the conservative society that Korea is. They have protested against the ban on abortion, and against sexual violence and discrimination. Additionally, they have organised fundraisers for comfort women victims.
“Comfort women” is the term used to describe women and girls forced into being sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II.
According to YunKim Jiyoung –“Feminists are being presented as misandrists to be silenced and to have their efforts for gender equality stigmatized.”
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YunKim added – “Instead, people should focus on the positive changes that new-wave feminists have brought about.”
Jiyoung is a feminist, philosopher, and professor.
“We have to work together, both women and men, to reconstruct the voice of feminism in Korea. Using mirroring to justify misandry is a wrong approach. Countering hatred with hatred is no different from responding to gender inequality with another gender inequality,” said OhSe Rabi, the author of That Feminism is Wrong.
Until we talk about it and make people understand what feminism actually, it’ll continue to be Korea’s F-word.