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361. Hatred Breeds Hatred

How to Achieve True Gender Equality

Jang, Su-jeong, Lee, Yu-jeang, Lee, Dong-eun 기자2016.03.02 00:00:00

It seems like Internet websites are filled with hatred against numerous groups. Among them, misogyny, which means the hatred of women, has been a dominant force to be reckoned with as many misogynous words can be found. Negative images of women given by misogynists on the Internet have been reproduced in Korean society until recently. For example, many advertisements depict women as individuals who shift their responsibilities, such as paying bills in particular, to their boyfriends. A wallet application company, in their advertisement, even said “It is our car when going on a trip and it is oppa’s car in a gas station”. They depicted women as using the car of their boyfriend when they are traveling and not paying the bill when they are in a gas station. Due to misogyny in Korean society as these instances shows, Misandry, which is the hatred of men, has appeared, claiming to be hatred of Misogyny.


 

[Online Misogyny in Korea]

In Korea, the abbreviation ‘Yeo-hyeom’, meaning misogyny, has been famous since 2014. Before then, there had been misogynistic contents on the Internet, but they could not draw enough public attention. Ilbe (www. ilbe.com) is one of the misogynistic websites in Korea. The site is notorious not only for misogyny but also for insulting people of political progressives, and giving sexual harassment to socially disadvantaged people such as women and children. The users of this site swear at women with unspeakable and violent words. They even use certain words including genitals to put women down. In addition, they post false stories about women that they think deserve blame in order to promote misogyny. Their postings are so provocative that they create much controversy even after they turned out to be false.

 

[Characteristics of Online Misogyny]

Misogyny on the Internet can be seen easily, with certain words referring to a specific woman. There are many misogynistic terms, including ‘X-nyeo’, such as Doenjang-nyeo and Kimchi-nyeo. Nyeo can be translated into a girl or woman in Korean. Doenjangnyeo is used to describe a Korean woman who spends too much money on luxury products compared to their income. Kimchi-nyeo is used for to call a Korean woman who financially relies on men and spends most of her money on beautifying herself. It is also generally used to look down on all Korean women. Some words like Doenjang-nyeo have become so well-known that even women use them. What matters is these kinds of misogynistic terms are used too often as a way to belittle women for no special reason and make generalizations about all women. By contrast, there are no terms for men who do the same actions as mentioned above. They are used seldom, if ever. It is a kind of social phenomenon that a social majority or dominant group constructs a social prejudice against a social minority.

 

[Why Do the Misogynists Hate Korean Women?]

There are always some people who behave oddly or badly. They are distinctive because of their behavior, not because of their gender. Then, what have Korean misogynists got against Korean women? It is because they think women deserve to be blamed by men. The reason why they hate Korean women is that in today’s society, it is important for women to gain more rights whereas the duties of men are taken for granted. They hate certain women who they think disregard their duties but claim their rights. In addition, they think there are double sexual standards and practices in favor of women such as gender quotas, which represent reverse discrimination against men. However, policies for women are needed in order to give equal opportunities to both men and women. Social activities of women are still restricted in a patriarchal system where women are considered incompetent. This system are also against men because it demands men be better and do more than women. Misogyny cannot be a solution to get rid of unfair political and social structure, but rather can incite both men and women to fight. The solution can be sought in gender equality and a collapse of the patriarchy.

 

[Creation of Megalia]

The biggest Misandry website is called Megalia (www. megalian.com) which is a compound word of MERS[1] and Egalia. Egalia stands for a virtual world in a book called “Egalia's daughters: a satire of the sexes” where gender roles are reversed. On March 29, 2015, when MERS spread in Korea, a MERS Gallery was created as a sub-website of DC Inside (www.dcinside.com). Before long, the press carried a false report about two Korean women, saying they needed to be quarantined because they could have been infected by MERS but they refused to be isolated. After this false report has been released, the MERS Gallery was filled with various hate posts against women such as “I am shocked to know how selfish Kimchi-nyeos are.” Eventually, it was confirmed that the article was misinformed, and many women expressed anger because they thought those two women would not have received so many hate comments if they were men. Fueled by their anger, in the MERS Gallery, women started “mirroring” misogyny of men in similar sexual, aggressive, and hateful ways that men have been expressing about women. Soon afterwards, they made a new website called Megalia because they thought they could be free from the disturbance DC Inside gives— which is a quite macho website—by erasing their postings.

 

[Characteristics of Megalia]

Megalians have mostly been radical feminists who criticized traditional feminists by calling their feminism “pretty feminism” or “feminism allowed by their oppa”. This quote means “feminism not offensive to men”. What Megalians think is that just as there is no black rights movement that is not offensive to whites, so there is no women’s rights movement not offensive to men. They believe that aggression is the only way to go because they think traditional feminism has not worked. “Mirroring” is the most important factor in their aggressive ways. For example, they do “mirroring” of Kimchinyeo by saying Hannamchung, which means Korean men are like insects. Some men do sexual objectification on the female body and they do “mirroring” by being judgmental on the male body. For example, their logo means that the penises of Korean men are too short and all genders should be equal at the same time. They swear a lot using unspeakable words and use certain words people in Ilbe would use which are considered socially inappropriate. The administrator of the Facebook page of Megalia claims that they do “mirroring” because they want to make people realize that hate speeches against women hurt. In spite of the displeasing behaviors of Megalians, certain acts conducted by them are considered to be helpful in improving the human rights of women. They have raised money for victims of sexual violence and changed misogynistic comments of Internet news into neutral ones. In addition, they carried out a campaign to remove illegal hidden cameras in restrooms for women installed by Soranet, a pornographic website.

 

[Positive and Negative Opinions of Megalia]

Megalia and Megalians have been highly controversial from the very beginning. Some critics say women always had difficulties with speaking up even on the Internet and had to make exclusive websites only for females to talk freely, but now Megalians are resolving it gradually by wildly speaking up. In addition, they say Megalians have succeeded in raising huge attention to misogyny and improved rights for women in real life. On the contrary, many people are against Megalia and say Megalians are nothing more than haters and Megalia is a female Ilbe. Many people have trouble with their swearing, and use of hateful words. In addition, some critics depict “mirroring” as tightrope walking. They think, with the slightest slip, “mirroring” could turn into saying hate speech for fun which is what Ilbe does. They are worried about Megalia because Megalians classify people in only 3 groups: Megalian, Hannamchung, and Corset which means they are women who have misogyny. This is dangerous because individual characters are all different.

 

[Misconception about Feminism]

In Korea, many people think feminism is a bad word. Feminists are considered to have complaints about men and a society in which they think men have more power and opportunities than women. It means many people in Korea do not know about true feminism. is because all the feminists they know about are female chauvinists who want to enjoy their rights but disregard their duties, and feminism is seen as discrimination against men. Many female chauvinists or feminazi easily get media attention as feminists. Furthermore, what some feminists claim is different from what most women think. Most women as well as men are indifferent about feminism.

 

[True Feminism is about Equality for both Genders]

What is true feminism? There are a number of different views on feminism, but they share a common view that feminism is about ‘equality for all genders’, not a man-hating movement or discrimination against men. Bell Hook, the author of Feminism Is for Everybody, offered a definition of feminism: feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexual exploitation, and oppression. Her definition showed that the stereotypes about feminism in Korea are wrong, and that feminism can also solve problems in men, who are also victims of fixed gender roles and patriarchy. Feminism seeks to abolish patriarchy which limits the rights of women and also challenges the notion of traditional gender roles which burden men with more duties than women. It means gender equality is necessary not only for women but also for men. There is criticism that current feminism is focusing on the problems of women, but neglecting ones of men. However, this can be changed as time goes by. Increasing the rights for women is about achieving gender equality, not making men a social minority.

 

[Why Feminism Still Needs to be Called Feminism]

Feminism has the prefix ‘femin-’ meaning ‘female’. It is no wonder that people may ask whether it should be called something broader if feminism is really about equality. Why ‘feminism’, not ‘equalism’ or ‘humanism’? This is because the historical and current meanings of the three terms are different to be more exact. Equalism or humanism does not specifically focus on gender equality issues. Equalism has a broader meaning than feminism because it claims not only gender equality but also racial equality, social equality, and egalitarianism. The term humanism arose during the Enlightenment in the 18th century and referred to a movement promoting reason, ethics, and justice while rejecting religious dogma and the idea of divine and supernatural powers. On the other hand, feminism, which started as a movement to extend the rights for women, has fought for gender equality and fairness for more than 100 years. In other words, we can say, “If you are against sexism, then you are a feminist. Of course, your gender does not matter!”

 

We should step back and try to see something beyond the “seemingly gender issue”. The behavior of the individual should not be generalized and considered as a representative of a group. However, these days on the Internet, there are too many netizens who are generalizing, writing hate comments, and discriminating against a specific group just because some of them showed ill behaviors. We should avoid that because, under any circumstance, hatred could be dangerous since it engenders hatred. For such reason, reacting to hatred with hatred could be even riskier since it forms a vicious circle of hatred. That is to say, to go toward gender equality, we should avoid categorization and broaden our perspective.

 


<Interview> Professor Chun, Sun-young (Dept. Sociology)


Professor Chun majored in Sociology of Culture and Social Theory. She teaches 'The Understanding of Women's Studies' as a general education class and told us, "As a professor, I want to help students notice the limitations in their perceptions."

 

I do not know much about misogynistic or misandric websites like Ilbe or Megalia, but I think a more fundamental issue than misogyny or misandry is ‘categorization’ based on inborn peculiarity which cannot change. We should raise a problem with regard to certain kinds of categorization which are unfair. If you cannot agree with these comments ‘You are timid because you are a woman’ or ‘you are not enterprising because you are a woman’, you should not agree with ‘You are so tolerant because you are a woman’ or ‘you are careful because you are a woman’. The sentence, “You are dirty or not intelligent because you are black”, is also unreasonable like the preceding one. We know there are many smart and clean black people. In fact, racism has not been a big problem in Korea yet. However, if the number of multicultural people in Korea keeps increasing, websites for racist discrimination are likely to be created in Korea like Ilbe or Megalia. These kinds of categorization are possible only if we put a person into a group based on just one characteristic. That is why students should not use the words that encourage generalization, such as 'all', '100%', 'never', and 'not at all' during my class.

 

Taking a step forward from 'categorization', people usually tend to simplify the problems. This is because the more simple the problem, the lower its ignition point. In other words, it is easier for people to take action against uncomplicated problems without considering the numerous factors. However, simplifying can make people blind to other fundamental aspects. As a representative example, there is the 'Extra Point System for Military Service[2]'. It became an issue only as a matter of gender although it has a lot of factors such as national obligation, the gap between social classes and so on. It shows that the 'Extra Point System for Military Service' turns into a matter with a low ignition point. This problem seems as if men and women are fighting against themselves, but questions like “what is mandatory military service?” could be more important. We should ask “Should military service be mandatory?” because most of the young do not go to army willingly. In addition, people in the high social classes circumvent the laws and they escape from going to the army, but the problems I mentioned are hiding behind the seeming “gender issue”. Consequently, the upper classes take advantage of dichotomy. Thus, we should analyze this military issue in detail because it is very complicated. I recommend you not to be buried under the opposition between two genders. You should try to see the bigger, the whole issue. It would be hard to find a solution, if you think this is a war between men and women. The same mechanism might be repeated and reproduced continuously unless our problem is solved epistemologically. Therefore, we should look into someone’s complex identity to be complex itself. Moreover, in order to practice that, it is necessary to think that “I am ‘not only’ a woman. I am ‘also’ a woman” or “I am ‘not only’ a man. I am ‘also’ a man.”



[1] ‘MERS’ is a viral respiratory infection caused by the MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) which includes symptoms such as fever, cough, diarrhea and shortness of breath

[2] 'Extra Point System for Military Service' means giving extra points in the civil service exams to those who have completed their military service.

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