9.21.2013

Kpop Rape Culture "Inconvenient Truth" "불편한진실": A Petition to Infinite and Woolim


Angry K-pop Fan writes, 

"Inconvenient Truth" ("불편한진실"), a track performed by Korean male pop group Infinite, is a production embedded with misogynist messages and triggers for gender-based violence. The lyrics promote victim-blaming and gender oppression, while the music video depicts rape culture and undermines its severity. The video is currently being screened in all 31 venues of their world tour "One Great Step."

As much as misogyny in any form should immediately be confronted, there is great concern about the effects this will have on the thousands of fans who will attend these concerts, most of whom are female and in their critical years just before adulthood. As a pop culture product, it stunts efforts against gender inequality and violence by misinforming about sex, interpersonal relationships, and individual liberties. As a production undertaken by Infinite, young men whose voices thousands listen to, it is a betrayal to their obligation not only as role models, but as influential members of society.
The lyrics promote victim-blaming. Reprimanding a woman because of her decision to wear the clothes she chooses justifies that it is her fault she is attracting unwanted attention. This is wrong because it encourages the idea that the reason behind potential violence and abuse is because she is a woman; the acceptance that women will always be violated because they are women; that there is something inherently wrong with being a woman. This is not a healthy message. It steers the blame away from those who are truly responsible: the people who leer at her and the people who violate her. Some examples in reality include this case of an 11-year old Texan girl who was gang-raped and blamed; a 23-year old woman in India who was also gang-raped and continually shamed even after her death. In South Korea, a 29-year old woman who took her own life after being insulted by the court judge; and a 12-year old whose assailants have been excused from certain criminal laws because 'they thought the girl was older.' The ones who commit such horrid acts are sympathized with at the expense of their victim's dignity and self-worth; and the ones truly prosecuted are those who were hurt and abused. This is unfair.

The lyrics promote the assumption that women ought to fear men. The line “men are wolves” (”남자는 모두 늑대야”) is the center of this concern. To accept this as fact is extremely dangerous for a number of reasons. First, this is merely a gender construct and serves to strictly define what being a 'man' really means. Gender constructs buttress power inequalities between sexes because what a man is 'supposed to be' is often a more privileged and advantaged position than a woman. On an individual level, this encourages men to be forward in their approach, as it is an expression of their 'masculinity', even at the expense of a woman's comfort zone. At its extremity, it gives the go-ahead to sexual aggression. Second, men themselves are pressured by definitions of masculinity, thus such characterizations are very reductionist and dismissive of the myriad of ways men choose to express themselves. Third, because it is seen as part of ‘man’s nature’, it is rendered into something that can not be helped. It thus allows for women to be dictated by male-defined standards in how they should behave in society, completely disempowering them from carving out their own individualities. Fourth, it reiterates that the cause of rape and forms of sexual violence and harassment is because, again, a woman is a woman, not because a man violated her. Are women are the ones who need to ‘restrain themselves’ in this situation? This discourages proper prosecution against sexual aggressors, the real instigators of violence and abuse. Finally, as men are reduced to merely their sexual urges, women are desexualized. Women ought to be allowed to express their sexuality (responsibly and consensually) as much as men do; but instead they are discouraged as they are shamed, ridiculed, and automatically thrown under the threat of violence. Men are not told to think they are in danger of the opposite sex, but women are. Men have the agency and a voice that is heard when they fight against harm, but women don’t. This is unfair.

The music video not only depicts patriarchy and rape culture but undermines the severity of it. Rape culture describes our society today: the normalization and perpetuation of violence against women through images and language in advertising, music, movies, TV, books, politics, and personal, everyday life. It is so ubiquitous that we ourselves do not know we allow it to continue through our own experiences, through the words we say and the decisions we make. Portrayals of the Infinite members staring at the woman’s breasts and attempting to look up her dress to the backdrop of lyrics that put the responsibility for these behaviors in the hands of the woman alone - this is rape culture in action. The woman is not communicating any consent whatsoever to being stared at and eventually harassed. “But her clothes?” This communicates the flawed belief that all there is to a woman is her physical beauty, and that she is nothing but a object for men to gaze upon. This arbitrary deprivation of her liberty, the subjugation of her individuality to men, is violence. Furthermore, all of this placed in a humorous light that plays to the affection of Inspirits minimizes the gravity of this issue and impedes them from knowing how to properly identify abuse and violation. Rape culture and patriarchy is the reason why women feel inferior and constantly threatened out in public, and even in their own homes. It is the reason why women experience higher rates of sexual assault than men; why you see on your local news reports of rape incidents in which the victims are women; why a close male friend, acquaintance, or relative are among those who are likely to assault a woman. This is unfair.

We call upon not just the K-pop community but anyone who stands against any form of misogyny to sign this petition to request Infinite, Woollim Entertainment, production and management teams to 1) re-evaluate the concept and execution of "Inconvenient Truth"; 2) consider canceling screenings of "Inconvenient Truth" at upcoming world tour venues and plans for any official release; and 3) acknowledge and understand the reasons behind these requests. We wish not to pin ourselves against Infinite and Woollim Entertainment, but rather work with them as a community in sincere and mutual interest to foster genuine understanding of our plights as young men and women in today's society. Because we are all affected by the implications of a thriving rape culture, we strongly believe that this is a responsibility that requires as collective of an effort as possible.

This may be against one pop culture product, one of which may not be widely known. Regardless, celebrities and figures in entertainment have a voice many of us wish we had. The thousands of fans we are hoping they will feel obligated to enlighten equates to the thousands more these fans will influence at several points in their own lives. Our wish is that this petition be the rock that instigates that powerful ripple effect."