Anti-feminism sentiment is growing among South Korean men, particularly online where an increasing number of posts expressing disapproval towards the movement and targeting feminists are being shared.
SEOUL, March 27 (Korea Bizwire) — Last week, a furious male K-pop fan took to the internet to share his frustration after his favorite idol Irene, a member of the girl band Red Velvet, said she read ‘Kim Ji Young, Born 1982’, a popular novel that centers around the treatment of women in South Korea.
“Are you taking male fans for fools when we are spending so much on you”, the fan wrote in an online post.
The book, which has sold over 100,000 copies since its release in 2016, has been hailed as the ‘guidebook of feminism’ by many feminists, having resonated with many women in the country who have experienced deeply entrenched sexual discrimination in society.
But reports that Irene had read the novel provoked a series of unexpectedly hostile reactions, including comments from men threatening to give up on supporting the group, and expressing their wish to not see the singer on TV again.
Son Na-eun, a member of the popular K-pop group Apink, was also subject to similar criticism from some fans after being seen using a phone case that said ‘Girls can do anything’ in capital letters.
Experts say the retaliatory behavior against female idols who advocate or are associated with feminism is caused by the ambivalent attitudes towards women that some men have.
“People who leave malicious comments are likely to hold a dichotomous view of women. They divide women into two groups, those they see as ideal who are kind and submissive, and others who are defiant which they see as a threat. Feminists often fall under the latter,” says researcher Ahn Sang-soo at the Korea Women’s Development Institute.
“They imagine their favorite idol singers as their ideal type of women. When the object of their fantasies shows behavior that goes against the imagination, such as reading a book associated with feminism, it provokes a strong reaction,” Ahn added.
Adding to the animosity is the anonymous nature of the internet, behind which people can hide and express extreme levels of anger and aversion.
One subtitled video of an interview with Jordan Peterson, a famous critic of feminism in the West, has attracted over 300,000 views so far.
Similar to the comments section of the original video, which was featured on Channel 4’s YouTube channel, many comments resorted to name calling, delegitimizing the feminist movement as a whole.
The anti-feminism sentiment isn’t exclusively online. The Anti Feminism Association, a controversial group boasting nearly 2,800 online members, took to City Hall in Seoul last December, calling for the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family to be dismantled.
“Feminists are teaching women to hate men and feeding a distorted version of feminism,” the group said during the protest.
Members of the group have caused controversy in the past for protesting in public with pickets that compared feminism to Nazism.
The rise of anti-feminism comes at the height of the #MeToo movement, which is sweeping across the country.
Earlier this month, President Moon Jae-in reiterated his support for the #MeToo Movement.
“The movement is leading Korea toward a society in which sexual equality and women’s rights are realized and the dignity of all people is respected.
“We are now reflecting how deeply the structure of sexual discrimination is entrenched in our society and are facing up to the reality that this is by nature about routine discrimination and oppression against vulnerable people,” Moon said.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)