Queer Corner: Gendered Beauty Standards

A colleague shot over an article my way recently discussing something near and dear to my heart: Korean beauty standards

In a brief summary, the article by Epstein and Joo discusses the expectations of women in Korean media to maintain a beautiful, slim pair of legs, and for men to keep up a bulky, muscular physique with a six-pack as the seemingly standard measure of male beauty. The author traces the growth of the trend over the last ten years as Korea has really captured the world's attention and continues to face mounting pressure on the world stage to maintain expectations of exported South Korean beauty. They also discuss possible causes and shifts beyond simply the extra attention

Quite a long article, but interesting. I've noticed a lot of the same tendencies and shifts, having had awareness of Korea and what-not for about 6 years. The pressures that men are put under to conform to these ideals is often understated and quite often understated or overlooked entirely- it all goes back to that false concept of 'effortlessness' in its creation, and ambivalence towards its reception.

"The men convey the impression that posing before their reflections offers them visceral pleasure and that they care little whether they are being observed but will accept admiration as natural and deserved. Unlike the representations of female pop-stars, manhood, it seems, doesn’t require an external gaze, just self-satisfied awareness of physical prowess."

You see, while women seem to typically be lauded for their efforts in losing weight or growing more attractive, for men, the expectation is that it comes as naturally and easily as possible,
"The current popularity of the built male body highlights essential differences between male and female physiques, and demonstrates the seemingly natural strength of men over women."

and often any acknowledgement of the efforts that men take are looked upon as both unseemly and as a betrayal. The whole idea of make-up is a very real microcosm of this dichotomy- whereas everyone encourages and demands women paint themselves silly with all varieties of products, male celebrities seem incapable of discussing their own extensive use of the products despite the obviousness of it in all of their public appearances.

As always, this trickles down into the masses as well. There has been a greater push for men to conform to beauty standards than ever and it is no longer considered unusual for men- straight men, even, GOD FORBID- to wear make-up in preparation for interviews, photography sessions, or even weddings. After attending three different 'Gangnam style' (shudder) weddings, I saw that not only did the bride plaster herself up every whitening substance available, the men did as well- and even the father of the bride wore visible makeup at one of the weddings, matched right along with his Gucci tuxedo.

The standards discussed in the article are, as always, an example of the complex relationship between media presentations and the society that both worships and produces them. In gay culture, this is even more true because typically competition among gay male populations is ever more intense- not to mention the dangerous and mentally damaging idea that a man should get all of the gay out of his system in the course of his early twenties before he takes up his duty and marries a woman (a philosophy that was, and is, often condescendingly explained to me by gay Koreans I speak to).

After spending an (unfortunately) extensive time right in the middle of the gay culture of Seoul, this strange dichotomy of women's legs and men's abs was reflected clearly across the lines of sexual positions (성향, 'tendency' as discussed in a previous post). Whereas the top, or penetrator, followed Korean cultural norms of needing a six-pack, bulging muscles and all the rest, bottoms had different expectations- pretty, often make-up plastered faces, slender and feminine figures accented by incredibly tight clothing, dyed hair, colored contacts, and often minor plastic surgery, usually paid for by an older boyfriend.

Many people currently aware or participating in the 'scene' may disagree, but I stand by those observations, especially having spent extensive time outside of the notorious Itaewon and venturing into the 'old city' where streets are lined by bars secretly catering to gays and hold, to this day, underground gay host bars where young, possibly homeless male prostitutes sell themselves to older, often married men.

Of course, among younger (and less desperate) generations, the lines blur, but anyone who spends a night out climbing the infamous 'Homo Hill' of Itaewon will see, if they look carefully, the exact picture I've painted here. As the pressure on the gay community lessens and minds across society slowly open up, however, I predict this dichotomy between 성향 will continue to slowly erode as men of all shapes and sizes grow a little more comfortable in their own skin.

That said, though, just as in America articles like "Why The Gays Hate Their Bodies" are still regularly coming out, I certainly do not predict or expect all societal pressures for the male body to disappear. I imagine that over time the pressures will continue to mount and more and more men- straight or gay, top and bottom- will only be more likely to hate their bodies and struggle to conform to those impossible-to-attain physical standards as established by the media.
Though I did enjoy the article, I also really question whether or not growing displays of the male physique is the result of an increasingly active base of sexually-hungry female consumers.

"In presenting such images, however, men are also now reminded that they have to “work harder” to sell themselves as commodities to women who are postponing marriage or foregoing it altogether in greater numbers: the muscularity can suggest a position of both strength and vulnerability."

While I suppose it is one theory, something about it just rubs me the wrong way, but perhaps that is just the rainbow glasses fogging my worldview. Anyone else in the world have a thought or opinion?


Stephen J. Epstein and Rachael M. Joo, "Multiple Exposures: Korean Bodies and the Transnational Imagination," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 10, Issue 33, No. 1, August 13, 2012.

HommeMaker, Why the Gays Hate Their Bodies, http://hommemaker.com/2012/08/20/why-the-gays-hate-their-bodies/


Values & Modernization Theory: World Values Survey (WVS)

Modernization theories provide a set of lenses through which social changes might be analyzed, including: occupational differentiation, association, shifts in community, population growth and women’s work, etc. To touch briefly on the issue of family and occupational relationships, the earliest modernization theorists didn't really anticipate that societies would choose to maintain systems of ethics, such as Confucianism, to maintain family status ties. This is why some recent work in this area aims to understand how these values systems undergo change. 

An anonymous reader shared one such example here, thanks! Here is another:

The World Values Survey (WVS) Chairman Ronald Inglehart and Vice President Christian Welzel frame modernization theory in terms of Durkheim’s theory of solidary and Tönnies’ theory of association; but also argue that although societies are on different paths, modernization is a somewhat predictable process that gives rise to increased autonomy, gender shifts and democratization (Inglehart & Welzel, 24).

Thus, with their modernization theory and WVS work Inglehart and Welzel not only reintegrate foundational theories, but add a provocative new tool for examining cultural changes. They might see the democratization of Korean society as predictable, given changes in economic development (18). Could this also mean that Korea is on a trajectory toward greater personal autonomy (perhaps evidenced by movement away from parental authority, and decline in primacy of first sons’ ancestral worship rituals) and greater gender equality (perhaps evidenced by women’s workforce participation, declining birth rates)? Yet, in contrast with theoretical predictions, WVS Cultural Maps from 1999-2004 and 2005-2008 (presented below) show that Korean society shifted toward less self-expression and more traditional values in recent years. It will be interesting to see how the research evolves in the next data set in a few years. 
What do you think might be behind the shift? 

The World Value Survey Cultural Map 1999-2004 (Korea’s X-Y values are -0.5 by 1.0):

The World Value Survey Cultural Map 2005-2008 (Korea’s X-Y values are -1.25 by 0.6):
What other studies have you read that might offer insight into what influences dating and marriage patterns? 

The Korean Gender Cafe is open to your reading suggestions and also hope to provide reviews of material that ought to be part of the conversation about gender in Korean society. We will keep working to share content for discussion and study. 

Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, "Changing Mass Priorities: The Link Between Modernization and Democracy." Perspectives on Politics June 2010 (vol 8, No. 2) page 554.
Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005: page 63. 


Should South Korea do more to assist North Korean women?

Today I read witness testimony from North Korean refugees, and from women kidnapped for forced marriage trafficking, who then were abused by ethnic cleansing in North Korea:

Full report here: http://www.womenundersiegeproject.org/conflicts/profile/north-korea

Quote from the report: 


A recently updated report by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea describes one former detainee’s testimony of painful forced abortions for women detained and thought to be carrying “impure” fetuses:
“[A] drug that in diluted form is used to treat skin wounds was injected into pregnant women’s wombs, inducing labor within hours. As there had not been the normal widening of the hipbones during the advance stages of pregnancy to enlarge the birth canal, the labor pains were the same as when delivering a fully grown baby. When the women moaned or cried out in pain as they lay on wooden and cement cell floors, they were hit with wooden stoves and cursed as ‘bitches who got Chinese sperm and brought this on themselves.’”
Afterward, the women were not allowed to bathe, nor given so much as a tissue or towel to clean themselves. Their babies, the former detainee recalls, were “wrapped in newspaper and put in a bucket to die.”
The U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea also reports the testimony of Bang Mi-sun, who was captured after having fled over the border and suffered through several trafficked “marriages.” What she recalls is not only ethnic cleansing through forced abortions, but the forcing of prisoners to attack their peers:
“Mrs. Bang Mi-sun observed ten pregnant women in early 2002 taken to a hospital from the Musan An-jeon-bu detention facility for the purpose of aborting their ‘half-Chinese babies.’ Another seven-month pregnant woman adamantly refused to go to the hospital and guards compelled male prisoners to jump on her stomach until the woman aborted on the floor. The woman was then taken to the hospital where she died.”
Bang Mi-sun was herself reportedly subjected to sexualized violence. After fleeing over the border, she was trafficked a total of three times. Horrifying as that may be, the last “husband” she was forced to be with before she was repatriated committed an additional form of torture:
“Shortly thereafter, while her ‘husband’ was out in the field, she was kidnapped by another gang of traffickers and sold a second time. She ran away but was again apprehended by traffickers who sold her ‘like livestock’ she says for a third time to a 34-year-old bachelor who was still living with his parents. He demanded that Mrs. Bang, then 48 years old, bear him a child, a prospect she thought preposterous to begin with. She told her third ‘husband’ that she had received an intrauterine contraceptive device in North Korea following the birth of her third child. Her ‘husband’ and his friends held her, spread-eagled on the floor, while a ‘doctor’ of some sort ‘rolled up his sleeves’ and manually removed the ‘ring.’ Bleeding profusely she became infected, and could not walk or stand up. She spent a month on the floor recovering, mostly in tears, she relates, at the ‘cruelty and shamefulness’ that enveloped her.”

Readers, should South Korea be doing more to address border human rights issues?


Queer Corner: Five Questions / 게이생활: 동성애자의 첫인상 칠문

Perhaps one of the strangest and most socially violating things I've ever experienced was being introduced to a Korean person. Within the first four minutes, they had extracted an extremely uncomfortable amount of information while our mutual friend stood by, watching and nodding as they confirmed all of my answers- two years worth of trust and what-not required to gain that.

요약: 서울에서 살면서 젊은 게이한국인들이 첫인상으로 보통 질문 5개 물어본다. 이름이 뭐냐, 몇 살이냐, 어디서 왔냐, 월급이 얼마냐, 성향이 뭐냐? 성향은 항문성교 할 때 마짜 (남자성향)나 때짜 (여성성향)이냐는 의미이다. 그래서 그 질문에 대해 생각하면 매우 간단하고 단도직입적인 그리고 매우 무례한 질문이다. 성향에 대해 질문을 받은 12명의 사람들은 너무 불안해하는 느낌이었고, 응답 이 후에 12명의 그들은 서로 미소로 속삭이고 인터뷰를 끝냈다. 첫 인상에 자주 프라이버시의 침해와 반대심문 같은 인터뷰를 받은 듯 보여서 그 행동의 이유를 알고싶었다. 한국인들이 목적적이고 직접적인 사람이기 때문에 그러한 질문을 물어보는 것일까? 한 명의 마짜친구는 친구들을 충분할만큼  사귀었기 때문에 데이트하려는 때짜들을 만나고 싶다고했다. 그래서 시간을 낭비하지 않도록 성향이 뭐냐고 물어본다. 그것은사람들이 기본적인 편의는 시간낭비라고 생각하기 때문에 사람들이 이미 작은 알고 있는 정보에 대해서 해산시켜야 하는지 그리고 공격적으로 전체 하위문화를 주도하는 이것은 무엇일까? 그리고 게이한국인들은 왜 그렇게 생각할까?

It was beyond disconcerting but I soon found that it was a normal practice over here in the Hermit Country, and perhaps in Asia as well. I soon learned to adjust and over the course of a very long period of time, grew confident enough to refuse answering questions I didn't like or felt no need to answer. Suddenly, I was back in my comfort zone. Then, I was taken for the first time to a Korean gay bar, and BAM! Back into a world of reeling discomforts.

Over the course of my year in Seoul, I discovered that a lot of the young gay guys I would end up interacting with had basically boiled that initial grill (첫인상) to five very simple, fast, and increasingly violating questions.
1. 이름이 뭐냐 (What's your name)
2. 몇살이냐 (How old are you)
3. 어디서 왔냐 (Where are you from)
4. 월급이 얼마냐 (How much money do you make)
5. 성향이 뭐냐 (What is your sexual position)

Upon reaching question four, I was already wriggling with displeasure at the conversation. I'm trying to down a bottle of soju here with you and our mutual friends- why do you need to know how much money I make? I'd dance around the question as best I could, and always qualify it somehow- "Oh, I make xxx amount, but I send at least half of it home every month". The truth, but embarrassingly unnecessary.

Then, we hit question five, and I'd immediately blush. The first time someone asked me was in front of a group of twelve people total (among which I knew only one), all staring intently at me and waiting for me to answer. I was already anxious and nervous about the whole situation- no one was speaking English and I was struggling just to follow the conversation! I fumbled through some BS answer to try to avoid giving any sort of definitive response, but it was too late- the others would smile and whisper among themselves, and the interview was over.

I had hoped that this would be an isolated incident, but it wasn't. Every time I would be out with some of the Korean gay buddies (regardless of how well I knew them), these five questions would come out as a sort of test for me to pass- not only with how I answered, but the exact vocabulary I would respond with (성향, for example, literally means 'tendency, inclination', but among the boys, it means top or bottom). There are special, Korean-only words for the positions, and my understanding and use of them would leave a variety of impressions.

Looking back to the year in Seoul where I was repeatedly subjected to this, I think I'm beginning to realize the reason for the whole process. It was a sort of interview, I think, because Koreans in general are very goal-oriented, 목적-driven people. Once, a guy told me that he has to ask right away because he was a bottom (마짜) and only ever was interested in meeting a top (때짜)- he already had enough friends (all bottoms) and only wanted a boyfriend and didn't want to waste his time.

It reminded me of this strange and prevalent belief back in the States that men and women can't be friends. Tops and bottoms couldn't be friends, according to that group philosophy, and it just weirded me the hell out. I have gay friends back home that I've known for years and whom I had no idea (or interest) as to whether they are a top or bottom. To me, it's always been irrelevant.

Yet, to many of these young guys, they just don't know how to interact with someone if there isn't a clear goal in mind. They have their friends that they 'play' (놀다) with, and the boys that they want to play with. The aggressiveness of it all was strange and frightening to me and so far, wholly absent in the more provincial city that I currently reside in.

Perhaps it's just inner-sight blindness, but I can't really recall anything too terribly similar to this at home. Readers, writers, and the community at large: any thoughts as to how this came about? I have some ideas, but before I share them, I'd like to hear back. What is it that drives an entire sub-culture to such aggressiveness to the point where people would dismiss an entire half of their already-small subculture simply because they believe even basic friendliness to be a waste of time?
Please share. I hope to include reactions and thoughts from the community along with my own ideas in the next entry.


Mars / 화성

화성까지도 우리 젠더 얘기에 대해 들수 있고 성폭행반대에 대해 알 수 있고 남녀평등와 여권를 요구하는 블로그를 읽을 수 있겠다!

It may be far away, and Earth may look very small, but even on Mars they will hear us discussing gender, opposing rape, and demanding women's rights and gender equality!

Introducing Queer Corner 퀴어 코너 소개 with Guest Blogger Enzo Cho'Gath

Hello, and welcome to the Queer Corner. Mmm, that's cheesier than I was hoping.

I'm new to writing for the blog and so I thought I'd offer a little bit of background about myself while staying just oblique enough to where no one could ever pin these words on my, assuredly adorable, innocent face.
Altogether, I've spent probably one and a half years living in the actual country of Korea, though my expectations and anticipations run about three years before that. It's hard to say exactly what got me interested in East Asia in general, but here I am, struggling to fit into a culture that will inevitably always view me as an 'outside-country-person' simply for the very obvious nature of my so-pale-it-glows-in-the-dark skin.

That isn't a complaint, by any means, it's just a reality of my life here (as well as for many foreigners abroad). Another reality is that though I may be in the racial majority in my home country out West, I am a sexual minority in that I'm homosexual. I have lived semi-uncomfortably open for a while, and when I first arrived in Korea in 2009 (been here on and off, you see), I made a decision that even if I'm not shouting my gayness from the rooftops, I feel no reason to compromise and go back into the closet. I would be open, and honest, and people would just have to deal with it.

Of course, plans never survive the first encounter and for all my will and determination, things just did not really work out that way. I've found myself walking back into the closet by choice and I've found myself gagged and thrown into the closet violently by the people around. Along the course of my adventures, I've also found myself in some pretty interesting places and I look forward to not only sharing those experiences with the community here, but also working with the readers and other writers to try to place my knowledge and experience in the realm of the entire scope of Korean gender and sexuality, and Korean culture in general.

I would, however, like to point out that I am not an academic by training. Though I do have some fairly awesome training along those lines and publishing experience on the ivory tower, I chose a different path and therefore my perspective may not always be as clean and polished as a research journal. I expect to bring a more grounds-eye perspective to queer issues that I've either engaged with personally or heard through the grapevine.

I speak conversational or 'street' Korean (actually 'gay street', or perhaps 'boulevard' Korean) extremely comfortably and rarely speak English unless I'm with another English speaker- I continue to study Korean every single day. However, I lack the writing and reading skills of my fellow writers here and apologize in advance for the lack of Korean language regarding this. I hope to, soon, be able to engage in that aspect of the language but it will be a while yet.

As many of you many know, the world of Queer life in Korea is one that remains largely undocumented and unanalyzed. It's strange and beautiful and I hope to take some very deep looks at the relations between queers and their allies (and enemies), gays and lesbians (and bisexuals and pansexuals), as well as foreigners and Koreans. No relationship is simple, but I hope to create a space here that will provide an opportunity for thoughtful, respectful analysis of these issues.

I am excited to participate and I hope the excitement is reflected by the rest of the community. Though I have been writing and blogging for over a decade, this is my first real attempt to address Queer issues in a format like this and look forward to engaging the overall community with questions, concerns, thoughtful corrections, and respectful disagreements. We all have a lot to learn and share, regardless of our own background, and all that we need to make a conversation productive is respect.

That being said, welcome again to the Queer Corner. I look forward to seeing it grow.
-Enzo Cho'Gath

공창제를 허하라, Should Korean government allow Licensed Prostitution?

남성인권 단체임을 자처하고 나서고 있는 ‘남성연대’가 <공창제>를 주장하고 있다. 그들의 주장은 성매매특별법이 집장촌의 규모만을 줄이고 음지로 숨어들게 했으며, 오히려 성매매를 위한 창구들을 다양화 시켰다는 것이 그들의 주장의 근거다. 사실 그들이 이야기하고자 하는 <공창제>에 대한 심도 깊은 토론은 해외 성매매를 위해 원정을 나가고 있는 한국여성들과 무분별하게 성을 사고파는 한국남성들을 비추어 보았을 때 이 시점에서 시의 적절하다고 생각이 들지만, 그들의 주장의 논리와 근거는 약간은 억지스럽거나 약해 보인다. 아래는 ‘남성연대’ 그들이 생각하는 <공창제를 허하라>에 대한 전문이다.

 Now ‘Korean Union’ strongly insists that our society should allow <Licensed Prostitution>’. They said Korean laws prohibiting prostitution just made the business for prostitution move to invisible dark place. <Licensed Prostitution>, this policy or this law may be alternative solution to consider now. In the figure below, we can see the full text ‘Korean Union’ insists.

 과연 <공창제>란 과연 무엇인가? 남성연대가 배포한 전문을 통해 어렴풋이 알 수 있듯이 <공창제>란 국가와 정부가 성매매를 공식적으로 인정하고 국가와 정부가 성매매와 관련된 성산업을 직접적으로 관리 감독하는 것을 의미한다. <공창제>란 용어는 네덜란드와 헝가리에서 처음 사용이 되었다고 한다.

 As we read this figure, <Licensed Prostitution>, government admits that officially prostitution is legal and should manage everything related to prostitution including people who work at that industry.

 사실 이 <공창제>를 실시하는 국가는 대표적으로 우리도 잘 알고 있는 네덜란드이다. 하지만 네덜란드 이외에도 스위스, 독일, 뉴질랜드, 오스트리아, 터키, 헝가리, 벨기에 등의 국가에서 완전 합법으로 성매매를 인정하고 있다. 이들 국가들은 성매매 여성들을 성산업에서의 노동자로 인정해주고 있으며, 그들에게 세금을 부과하며 또한 정기적으로 신체검진을 의무화 하는 등 체계적인 시스템을 통해 정부하에서 철저한 관리 감독을 하고 있다고 한다. 그 이외에도 이스라엘이나 오스트레일리아, 멕시코, 캐나다 등의 국가들은 성매매를 부분합법으로 인정하는 국가들도 있다.

 하지만 그 이외의 국가들 우리 대한민국이나 중국, 예멘, 사우디아라비아, 아랍에미레이트 등의 여러 국가에서는 성매매를 금지하거나 불법으로 간주하여 성매매에 종사한 사람들을 사형에까지 엄중히 처벌하는 국가들도 많다.

 As you already know, some countries adopted this <Licensed Prostitution> like Netherland, Swiss, Germany, Austria and Belgium etc.

 그렇다면 이 <공창제>를 과연 국가가 허해야 하는 것일까?
 How do you think about this law? Should Korean government allow this new policy?

‘현재 성매매특별법을 폐지하고자 하는 성매매 관련자들의 시위, 그리고 성산업의 노동자로 인정해달라고 하는 목소리들이 안팎으로 나오고 있다.

< We are not whores. We are Sex Workes. >

 사실 <공창제>, 제도적 장치를 만들고자 하는 노력은 국가가 직접 나서서 할 수 있는 성질의 것이 아니라 우리 국민들이 성에 대한 사회적 논의를 통해 합의를 이끌어 내야 하는 문제라고 생각한다. 분명 <공창제>는 한국의 사회속에 뿌리 깊게 박혀있는 음지영역이었던 성매매를 밖으로 끌어 낼 수 있는 확실하고 빠른 방법일 수 있다. 벨기에의 엔트워트시의 경우에서처럼 공창제를 시행한 이 후에 마약, 인신매매, 성폭력, 살인등과 같은 범죄율이 40퍼센트 이상 줄어들었으며 세금도 증가하는 효과를 이뤄냈다고 한다. 또한 종사자들의 대우 역시 매우 개선되었다고 한다. 이는 지난 2010 7월 시사르포에서 다루었던 경북 포항 성매매 종사 여성들의 열악한 환경과 그들의 죽음은 투명하지 못한 환경 속에 재화와 권력의 틈에 끼어 사회의 보호도 받지 못한채 죽어간 성매매 종사자들의 안타까운 현실들을 미루어 볼 때 <공창제>의 기대감을 엿 볼 수 있다.
Some of women who work at the sex industry try to change the name as sex workers. It means that they had decided to be sex workers voluntary. However, there was a TV program dealt with these women who were killed by pimps or sex trafficking in Pohang. Some of women unlike voluntary women who wanted to do still are suffering from serious sexual abusing. We can see this industry is not transparent. That is why a lot of people want to talk about <Licensed Prostitution> as an alternative.  

하지만 남성연대의 주장에서는 성매매 종사자 여성들의 인권적인 문제들 보다는 잠재적 범죄자로 보여지는 남성들의 전체를 대변하고 있는 듯 보인다. , 성폭력, 성범죄, 인신매매 등과 같은 근원적인 문제에 대한 원인을 찾기보다는 모호한 피해자와 가해자사이의 구분 짓기에  초점을 맞추어 빠른 결과만을 찾고자 하고 있다.
However, I think Korean Union’s opinions and suggestion seem look like for only males. They did not mention about fundamental issues like sexual abusing, sex trafficking and sexual crime etc and just explained why we need this law. They explained that current prostitution law cannot protect the women and also men who got prostitution. They said this current law just makes the guys as potential perpetrators and victims.

사실 성매매에 있어서는 피해자와 가해자의 공식은 성립되지 않는다고 생각한다. 우리 사회에서의 성매매란 동시에 피해자이며 가해자이다. 아마 이는 남성연대의 주장과 비슷하게 과거의 성매매와 현재의 성매매의 차이가 존재하기 때문이다. 당연히 인신매매나 성폭력등과 같은 극단적 형태의 성매매는 피해자와 가해자가 분명히 존재한다. 하지만 현재에서 주로 이루어지고 있는 성매매는 그 형태가 자발적이든 그렇지 않든 아직까지도 이 사회가 성에 대한 담론을 두려워하고 있으며 이를 성숙하게 대처하지 못했기에 생겨난 것이다. 그렇기 때문에 나는 남성연대가 근거로 제시하는 자발적 성매매를 하고 있는 여성들에 대해 과연 조금이라도 머리로라도 이해를 하고 있는가에 대한 질문을 던지고 싶다.

 <공창제>는 사실 쉽게 결론을 내릴 수 있는 간단한 문제는 아니다. 이 제도를 찬성하는 사람들이 생각하는 것처럼 이 제도가 시행되었을 때 과연 성매매가 근절될 수 있을지 또한 성범죄등과 같은 문제들이 완전히 제거 될지는 아무도 예측할 수 없다. 또한 성을 사고파는 행위를 국가에서 관리 감독하는 일들이 누구를 위한 일인가에 대한 문제에 봉착할 수 있다. 그것이 사실 여성인지, 남성인지에 대한 구분 역시 모호해진다. 또한 이 제도가 인권에 대한 제반적인 문제들을 통제 해결하고 사회를 설득 할 수 있는가에 대한 의문도 든다. 당연히 상대적 약자를 위한 장치들이 마련이 되어야 하겠다. 이렇게 이야기를 하자면 필자가 <공창제>를 허해야 한다는 남성연대의 논조에 찬성하는 것처럼 보이지만, 사실 필자는 허하자 허하지 말자에 대한 이야기 보다는 성숙하지 못한 성적 담론에서는 <공창제>에 대한 문제를 깊이 이해하지 못한다는 것을 말하고 싶다. 우리는 가끔 재화와 서비스, 폭력과 권력, 피해자와 가해자 등과 같은 것들에 집중한 나머지 여성과 남성, 사회와 개인처럼 근본적으로 서로를 이해하고 보호하며 협력해야 하는 큰 틀을 간과하는 경향이 있다. 아무리 좋은 법률과 법제를 제정한다고 하더라도 과정의 꼼꼼함이 없이 결과만을 우선시하는 풍조 속에서는 분명히 소외되는 것들이 존재한다. <공창제> 역시 그러하다. 만약 <공창제>에 대한 심도 깊은 성적 담론과 문제의 이해없이 단순히 정책적으로만 밀어 붙인다면 과거에 그러했듯 소수만을 위한 제도로 남겨질지도 모른다.

<Licensed Prostitution> is not easy problem to solve and talk. I am not sure this <Licensed Prostitution> can be a good solution to protect the people who live with us. And also we don’t know government manage and control this industry fairy if we decided to make <Licensed Prostitution> law. Because we are not sure, we should think about various discourses related gender issues more seriously and carefully. Sometimes we just focus on the result to solve problems. Then we are trying to make a new law to solve the side effects made by previous law.

<Licensed Prostitution> is not simple. We should focus on human rights for minorities. Without understanding sexual discourses and gender issues, we cannot help them and also ourselves.   
How do you think about <Licensed Prostitution>?


PSY (ft. HYUNA) 오빤 딱 내 스타일 "Oppa, you're my style"

Last week we asked, 

What exactly IS the message of PSY's "Gangnam Style" and what does it say about gender or dating? 싸이의 강남 스타일은 젠더나 데이트문화에 대해 어떤 메시지를 전달하려고 하고있습니까?

Today Psy released a follow-up video, "Oppa, you're just my style" and after watching the video, I feel that Psy's "Oppa you're just my style" (ft. HYUNA) 오빤 딱 내 스타일 is making a parody of gender roles and behavior. Watch the video here:

싸이에 따르며 "'강남스타일' 뮤직비디오 제작 당시 함께 기획됐던 '오빤 딱 내 스타일'은 여성의 관점에서 '강남스타일'을 재해석한 것으로 걸그룹 포미닛의 현아가 주인공으로 출연한 사실이 알려져 화제를 모은 바 있다. 싸이는 '오빤 딱 내 스타일' 뮤직비디오 공개로 전세계인들과 다시 한 번 즐겁게 이번 '강남 스타일'의 열기를 이어나갈 계획이다!"

First, Kpop fan reactions:
Let's take a look at the reactions of some Kpop fans, and pay attention to what they notice about the video.

Kpopstarz describes the video:
"HyunA sings the song from a woman's point of view, claiming that Psy is 'just her style'. HyunA is wearing a cute yet sexy white dress as she dances a sexy dance instead of the usual 'horse-riding' move." [Emphasis added. Good description of the aegyo styling for Hyun-a in the video -CBM]

OhKpop has this to say:
"HyunA sings the song from a woman’s point of view, claiming that Psy is ‘just her style’. HyunA is wearing a cute yet sexy white dress as she dances a sexy dance instead of the usual ‘horse-riding’ move." [Emphasis added. Those living in Korea often refer to 'sexy dance' which highlights that the performance of 'sexy' contrasts everyday life, where women are typically expected to confirm to the 'sensible' behavior mocked in the first Psy video, however 'sexy dance' creates a sanctioned space for performance of sexuality - or consumption of sexuality. -CBM]

In this reaction video rimmygee asks "Is this a parody?" [YES~ Somebody else sees it! -CBM]
rimmygee notes Hyun-a's sparkly makeup, and comments that Psy is married (because of the sexualized dance?), and asks "Is she gonna perform, too?" [It seems that Hyun-a is performing a parody of women's aegyo cuteness norms throughout the video. -CBM] rimmygee notes how close Psy and Hyun-a dance, and seems a bit shocked. As the video ends she concludes, "Oh that's so cute." rimmygee adds, "Her voice isn't that annoying." I really appreciate rimmygee posting such an immediate response and for raising the question of parody. This reaction seems to center on Psy, so let's take a look at a reaction that centers on Hyun-a.

Finally, Bluuuue makes the following comment, more explicitly identifying the song and particularly Hyun-a's voice as parody. Posted by Bluuuue in [RANT] Hyuna and the "Oppa you're my style" MV...
"So i was surfing through some YG fanpages and forums in Vietnam. It turns out that they are all trippin' over this MV
I'm sorry if Psy picked Hyuna over your "much more beautiful YG unnies"
I'm sorry if her voice in the chorus is too pitchy and annoying, because it's Psy idea and for the entertaining purpose, which is the main goal of the song and Psy's strategy himself
I'm sorry if you think Psy and YG have lost their mind
I'm sorry if you think this version is not as good as the original. Everything, including films and MVs, work that way, you just can't expect anything high from a sequel.
I'm sorry if you are going apeshit because of a PARODY, yep, a PARODY"

Now, some analysis on the image of women:
In  my view, Hyun-a's voice is is dripping with aegyo sweetness, and the reaction of viewers to her voice may show some subtle discontent or unease with this challenge to behavioral norms. Her poses tease the typical aegyo stances at 0:52, 1:09, 1:49, 2:33 2:43 (and others) and her dance replaces the horse riding move with Hyun-a;s pointing finger, poking fun at the stereotypical portrayal of women in media (especially advertising).

The short skirt - long leg pose.

The blinking cute pose.

Note how seeing Psy strike the pose helps point out the sexual objectification of women in the media, and helps parody.

The cute lip-touch pose.
I think viewers regard Hyun-a as 'annoying' because Hyun-a overdoes the aegyo act just enough to satirize it. Finally, I love the final scene where they break the act and Hyun-a jumps on Psy's back and they laugh, the scene let's you in on the joke, and also breaks the aegyo act to confirm that this is parody.

See last week's post and discussion of "Gangnam Style" here... 


Asia's Next Top Model 도전 수퍼모델 와 아시아의 톱모델

도전 수퍼모델에 대해 어떻게 생각합니까? 새로운 아시아의 톱모델이라는 프로그램 시작하는데 아시아의 현대에 있어서 (美)의 표준에 맞이나 그 의미가 변화될까?  
Quick summary of the comments Tyra Banks makes about Singapore:
Tyra mentions that she exited the airport to see Singapore, loves the architecture in Singapore, notes beautiful flight attendants on Singapore Air, and emphasizes the global phenomenon of Next Top Model - which have brought her to discuss the upcoming program Asia's Next Top Model

Meet Judge Nadya:
One judge makes a strong statement for women's education. Singapore-based model-actress-host Nadya Hutagalung dropped out of school at 12 to model, however she strongly urges other girls to complete their education, saying:
 "I really don't advise the models of today to follow in my footsteps.
"They should definitely get an education when they can. An education can be critical.
"Out of 100 models I see, not many have the potential to make it big in the business.
"If they don't make it, at least they'll still have an education to fall back on.
"School wasn't the right thing for me then, but it's a different world we live in now. I'm blessed to have landed on my feet."

Why Asia's Next Top Model? 
Tyra says that 'it's sad that women can not just be beautiful in our differences, that there have to be these different standards that change' & Tyra hopes to expand the definitinon of beauty. 
"I think the rise of Asian models is an absolutely beautiful thing, what I don't like to see is when models of different races come in and out of fashion, like 'Oh it's an Asian model moment' No, it's like Asian people are here forever and not going anywhere, it's not a moment, it just should BE." -Tyra Banks

The application guidelines state: "The reality model search is open to all female models aged 18 to 27 years old, at least 5-foot-7 in height, could speak and understand English."

The average female height in South Korea is just over 5 foot 3 inches, Philippines 4 foot 11.5 inches, Vietnam/Cambodia/India/Malaysia all come in at around 5 feet, the average Japanese or Chinese woman at 5 foot 2 inches. Both Korea and Taiwan are in the top 7 nations in the world for plastic surgery. So, what signal might these kinds of competition regulations send for diversity in beauty in a context where height lengthening surgeries cost time, pain and money as some seek 'beauty' specified by height or long legs? 

On the other hand could the promotion of an Asia-Pacific region beauty competition counteract the plastic surgery boom as Asians seek 'Western' look? Could this address inter-regional attitudes toward race, sexism and commodification of the 'other' or fuel these disputes? Could the broadcast in English affect norms of beauty outside Asia, or will it add to the pressure to be beautiful, tall and a perfect English-speaker to the long list of perfections women are evaluated by in some societies? 

What does it take to be Asia's Next Top Model? 
What do you think about Tyra Bank's goal to expand the notion of beauty? What do you think about the judges' explanation of what it takes to be Asia's Next Top Model? 

도전 수퍼모델에 대해 어떻게 생각합니까? 새로운 아시아의 톱모델이라는 프로그램 시작하는데 아시아의 현대에 있어서 (美)의 표준에 맞이나 그 의미가 변화될까?  


‘남성연대’, 페미니즘 그리고 여성가족부의 대안 “Korean Male Union”, Feminism and Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family

 이번 블로그에서는‘남성연대’가 만들어낸 최근 일련의 여성 또는 성과 관련된 문제와 사건들에 대하여 웃지 못할 해프닝들을 이야기 하고자 한다. 가수 백지영의 음악 <굿 보이>의 가사의 표현을 가지고 최근 남성적 가치의 회복을 내세우는 ‘남성연대’라는 모임이 유통가처분신청을 제출했다는 이야기는 인터넷상에서 오랫동안 회자 되었다. 그러나 이 모임이 고려대 성추행 의대생에 대한 옹호에 직접 나서는 등 페미니즘 진영의 정반대에 첨예하게 서서 모든 여성적 가치에 대응하는 행동에 나서고 있다는 사실은 아마 많은 사람들이 모르고 있다. 사실 ‘남성연대’라는 조직 자체가 있다는 사실도 모르고 있는 사람들이 더 많다.

 I want to talk about ‘Korean Male Union’ which is trying to do some activities for male society against women’s side like Feminism and Korean Ministry of Gender equality and Family. But you can notice that actual Korean meaning about Ministry of Gender equality and Family is Ministry of Female and Family.
 사실 여성운동 일명 페미니즘이라는 부르는 운동은 처음에는 여성의 사회적 차별에 대한 문제의 인식에서 시작되어 민주적 투쟁으로 발전 그 후에 성해방과 성평등과 같은 보편적 인류, 인간의 가치로 옮겨진 사회운동이라 볼 수 있다. 우리가 흔히 말하는 페미니즘의 본질적 가치의 목표는 성적불평등에 대한 저항이라고 볼 수 있다. 하지만 이러한 본연의 가치에 대해 한국이라는 이 조그만 나라에 사는 한국인들은 제대로 오해를 하고 있다. 아마도 우리 대한민국 대부분의 국민들은 페미니즘, 여성운동이란 단지 유교사상과 대치되는 반남성운동이라는 측면으로 생각하는 경향이 더 강하다. 사실 안타까운 현실이다.

We already know about Feminism related to Gender Equality movement not only for just female. And this movement is a kind of social and political movement for human right and value. But some of Korean people still misunderstand that Feminism is anti male movement just for female opposed to Confucian based on male.

“인간은 누구나 평등해야 합니다.”는 아주 기초적인 명제 아래에서 우리의 여성가족부가 행하는 행태들은 어떻게 보면 이 명제를 지키기 위한 국가기구가 아니라 소수의 여성과 그들의 가족을 위한 또는 그들만의 가치를 위한 귀족적 페미니즘 더 나아가 다른 이들에게 페미나치로 비춰지도록 보여진다는 사실이다. 그런데 사실 어느 일부분은 여성가족부가 행했던 정책에 둘러싼 오해로도 볼 수 있겠지만, 그들이 보여준 결과에 대한 그리고 과정에 대한 국민들의 실망감은 오해라기 보다는 진실이다. 어떻게 보면 남성연대가 출몰한 이유도 기존 과거의 여성부가 행해온 페미니즘의 외피만을 둘러싼 여성만을 위해 움직이는 그들에 대한 극단적인 반대의 자연스러운 현상이라 볼 수 있지 않을까?

 Rising the ‘Korean Male Union’ looks like a natural birth in Korea to suggest some discontents about Ministry of Gender equality and Family, which have just focused on Cultural industry related to invisible and short term policy not for Gender. Some of Korean people are disappointed what this ministry is doing.

 우리가 알아야 할 점은 과거 여성부가 단순하게 페미니즘, 여성들의 요구로 설치된 것이 아니라, 대한민국의 법과 집행에 있어서 성적불평등이 발생하는 것들을 예방하고 감독, 자문하는 기능을 담당했던 기관이 세계 여성의 날이 선포된 이후 세계 각국의 나라에서 여성 전담 기구의 필요성이 대두되면서 이 기관이 현재에 이르게 된 것이라는 점을 알고 있어야 한다. 그런데 현재의 여성가족부가 이렇게 변질(?) 된 이유는 우리 이명박 정부가 보건복지가족부에서의 청소년 보호 및 다문화가족을 포함한 건강가족 업무를 여성부가 담당하도록 하면서부터 여성가족부의 본래와 다른 기능에 더 치우쳐 지도록 환경을 조성했다는 점이다. 어느 교수님에 따르면 여성부가 가족의 업무를 이름에서부터 담당하게 되면서 여성부는 더 이상 성평등과 성해방을 위한 기능을 담당하지 못하게 되어 버렸다는 한탄을 하셨다. 사실이다. 여성가족부는 가족이라는 이름을 가지면서부터 여성이 아닌 권력의 안사람이 되어버렸다.

When Korean Ministry of Gender equality at Lee M.B regime had a responsibility for the Family policy, this ministry might be lose their own purpose to improve gender equality. Even though there are several sexual crimes happened to young children, this ministry barely reacted and mentioned tragedy things.

그런데 더 재미있는 사실은 여성가족부가 청소년 보호 정책을 위한 예산을 삭감하고 현재 아동성폭력, 성폭행과 같은 문제에 대해서는 적극적 태도를 보이지 않고 있다는 점 그리고 아동과 여성 피해자들을 보호할 수 있는 제도적 장치에 미온적인 입장을 취한다는 점에서 현재의 여성가족부에 대한 국민들의 불만은 자연스러운 결과로 보여진다. 사실 ‘남성연대’가 가수 백지영의 <굿 보이>의 가사의 표현이 남성들을 비하한다는 내용을 품고 있어 유통가처분을 신청한 것은 지금까지 여성가족부가 보여주었던 우스운 해프닝을 단순히 모방했다고 밖에는 볼 수 없다. 지금까지 여성가족부가 청소년들과 아동들에게 잘못된 영향을 줄 수 있다고 공표한 유해매체로 규정한 게임과 음악, 영화, 드라마 등등의 이유들을 보고 있으면 여성가족부는 정작 중요한 여성과 아동, 가족처럼 돈이 되지 않는 사업에는 관심이 없어 보인다. 오히려 돈이 되는 큰 사업에만 유독 관심을 보이며 개입하고자 하는 열의를 보게 되니 우리 국민들이 화가 날만 하다.

 페미니즘이 단순하게 여성운동을 위한 것이다라는 오해에서 시작되어 국가의 일련의 정책들이 남성적 가치 또는 남성적 평등에 위협이 되고 또한 남성들을 사회적 약자화로 전락시키기 위한 장치들이다라고 주장하는 남성들이 결국은 남성운동이 필요함을 역설하고 있는 것이 현재의 ‘남성연대’가 등장한 이유이다. 또한 제 기능을 하지 못하는 여성가족부에 전통적 가족의 가치의 회귀를 외치며 비판하고 있는 것이 ‘남성연대’가 하고자 하는 목표이다.

 오늘날 개인적으로 생각해보면 한국의 페미니즘은 남성과 여성 그리고 성적소수자들을 위한 운동이 아니라 이상하리만큼 기형적으로 그들을 위한 그들의 기호에 맞는 그리고 권력과 정치에 퇴색되어 버린 그들만의 장이 되어 버렸다. 그들이란 당연히 페미니즘이라는 외피만을 둘러싼 소수 권력층들을 의미한다. 하지만 귀족적 페미니즘에 반동적으로 극단에 선 남성연대 역시 사실은 남성적 가치의 권력화라는 목표를 위해 움직이는 집단임에 틀림없다. 성적담론화를 위한 창구들은 막혀 버린지 오래되었고 성에 대한 진정한 인류애적 가치에 대해 이야기하고자 했던 것들은 우스꽝스러운 서로에 대한 비방과 비난의 장이 되어 버린지 오래다.

 사실 여성가족부 또는 외피만을 둘러싼 페미니즘집단이든 남성연대든 그들은 다르지 않다고 본다. 상대진영을 적대화하고 잠재적 범죄화를 이끄는 존재라고 서로를 인식하는 둘 사이에서 그들은 성이 다름에 대한 입장차이만 있을 뿐이지 그들은 같은 존재이다.

 남성연대의 창립선언문을 살펴보면 그들은 세계 최저의 출산율, 최고의 이혼율, 가족의 해체, 한국남성의 가족 부양 경제생활비 부담률 세계 1위, 가족에 대한 한국 남성들의 의무와 책임은 다양화 되어가고 있으나 가정은 오히려 붕괴되고 있다고 말하고 있으며 이러한 원인은 모두 페미니즘 때문이라고 주장한다. 나는 이해의 부족과 극단적으로 오해를 사는 페미니즘이라 칭하고 싶지만 여하튼 그들 역시 과거에 그리고 현재 남성들을 잠재적 위험요인 범죄자로 취급하면서 모든 문제의 원인은 남성이다라는 주장과 일치한다는 점에서 그리고 그들이 서로에게 향하는 비난이 완벽하게 일치한다는 점에서 그들은 한 배에서 태어난 성별만 다른 쌍둥이라고 생각한다.

As we look at the declare statement for foundation of ‘Korean Male Union’, they want to get back original Korean family value and structure similar to Confucian. And this union has blamed some female organizations like Ministry of Gender equality and Family and Feminism made a lot of tragedy things such as a nuclear family, high divorce rate and the lowest birth rate etc. Korean Male Union has thought that these social problems occurred because of female organization.

 과연 ‘남성연대’, 그들이 주장하듯 자신들이 새로운 대안으로써의 가치를 대변할 수 있는가에 대한 답변에 나는 회의적이다. 하지만 이전 블로그에서도 언급했듯이 ‘남성연대’가 현재의 페미니즘에 대한 회의적 입장, 여성가족부에 대한 비판적 태도를 보여줌으로써 다양한 담론들을 통한 우리가 고려해볼만한 고민들이 있다고 생각한다.

However, I think this union cannot be an alternative organization to make real gender equality. This union also has same wrong ideas like they judged what female organization did. Even though this Korean Male Union cannot be the one, this union has some potentials to make some discourses and ideas about gender we can consider though those things are ridiculous.