SEOUL, March 14 (Korea Bizwire) — As South Korea’s MeToo movement continues to be bolstered by new allegations brought forward seemingly every other day, there has been an emergence of voices questioning exactly what MeToo incidents really are.
Since most of the MeToo stories of sexual abuse detail wrongdoing within relationships where the alleged perpetrator held greater power over the counterpart by virtue of status (relationships such as director and actress, professor and student), some are looking at the situation as though complaints of sexual harassment that occur outside of these power-imbalanced relationships do not merit public disclosure.
The questioning attitude towards “correct” or “incorrect” MeToo allegation appears to have grown stronger particularly after former South Chungcheong Province governor Ahn Hee-jung and politicians Chung Bong-ju and Min Byeong-doo one by one became engulfed in controversy over supposed sexual impropriety.
One Twitter user posted, “The first and second grounds for wrongdoing to be counted into the MeToo movement is recurrence. Incidents that ‘happened once’ or where ‘I refused’ must be seen only as emotional appeals that happen regularly.”
Cho Ki-sook, a professor at Ewha Womans University, expressed somewhat similar sentiments in a Facebook post which stated, “Only the public recounting of sexual crimes that were habitually perpetrated through abuse of one’s position or greater power can become the MeToo movement that gains the support of society.”
The public is divided on this issue. While there are those who believe that it is up to the victims to choose whether to publicly reveal past incidents, others say certain limitations or standards are needed to avoid mistakenly making villains out of innocents.
Experts meanwhile have said any limitations set by third parties and not the individuals telling their stories could be counted as another form of violence.
One educator at Konkuk University said, “For a particular story to be MeToo, deciding on requirements like ‘it has to be at least this bad’ is in and of itself another form of harm committed against the victim, who already had to muster up the courage to speak up against sexual crimes.”
The educator warned that if standards such as “if it’s rape, it’s MeToo and if it’s just grabbing someone’s hand, it’s not” are decided by others, the victims can only begin to feel a sense of helplessness.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)