Posts Tagged ‘gender/sexuality’

Spy Myung-wol: that one questionable scene

I thought in jest about writing a series called “Questionable K-Drama Male Behavior towards Females,” but I think I’m actually going to do it, and episode 13 of Spy Myung-wol is a good place to start.

Spoilers for the latest episodes, so read with discretion.

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Sungkyunkwan Scandal, episodes 9 to 14

These couple of episodes have been interesting because it gives me new things to think about. I’m not really clocked into what’s happening in the overarching political storyline, nor am I really invested in the romance between Seon-joon and Yoon-hee, but I think the side characters are shaping up to be more interesting than I thought they’d be.

First is the relationship between Yong-ha and Jae-shin, and then second is the relationship between Cho-sun and Yoon-hee. (The girl who plays Cho-sun was also in Bad Guy as the girl who jumped to her death, which I completely did not even realize until a second ago.)

Lots of gender/sexuality ramble after the jump. Yay!

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Kind of perverse

There’s a new SBS variety show called “Heroes” with an all-female cast (minus the MCs) — IU, Kara’s Nicole, After School’s Gahee, Shin Bong-sun, Lee Ga-eun, Yoo In-ah, T-ara’s Ji-yeon, BEG’s Narsha, Seo In-young, No Sa-yeon, Hong Soo-ah, Finkl’s Lee Jin.

The episode begins with the cast members arriving one by one to a remote location, inside a warehouse, where there are two tables set up. One table is labeled “popular team,” and the other is labeled “unpopular team.” As the members arrive one by one, they’re supposed to decide which table to sit at.

This is the awkward and stupid part: the sunbaes in the industry obviously feel like they belong at the popular table, and the eldest unnies who are also the most senior in experience feel even more of a reason to sit at the popular table. This leaves: jokes about Shin Bong-sun, and jokes about the younger members.

Seniority is a big deal in Asian culture, and I understand that. Women like Noh Sa-yeon and Lee Jin have been in the industry for forever, and do have a lot of work experience that people, say, IU don’t have. But the problem I have with Asia’s sense of seniority is that somehow it trumps everything (both seniority in age and in experience). Look, things in the industry are a lot different now than they were ten years ago. I know that the elder sunbaes have had to pay their dues many times over to be where they are, but it’s so embarrassing to watch them single out newbies like they o b v i o u s l y do not know anything or they can’t possibly be knowledgeable of this, this, or that.

So you get the younger girls being embarrassed to admit their popularity for fear of appearing haughty — because we know that it’s double whammy to be both haughty and a haughty female — when I’m sure audiences know someone like IU is sure as hell more relevant now than Lee Jin.

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Hmm.

Lee Min-ho gave an interview on MBC Section TV, he said,

I have an older sister and I don’t really like it when she wears short skirts. Even with any girls that have some sort of relation with me, even though they are my friends, I nag at them if they wear short skirts.

This quote bothers me and it adds itself onto a list of reasons why even though I like Lee Min-ho as an actor, I’ve always been kinda iffy with him. (During his BOF days, he was asked about his ideal type, and he said he replied with women with “really white/light skin.”)

Anyway, I think what he said about short skirts isn’t really an opinion that only he holds, so maybe it’s not fair that I hold it against him personally, but since he’s a famous actor and someone a ton of people like/admire, it’s relevant.

Just this more general statement of a man (sometimes a woman) projecting dislike over what he deems is appropriate attire is an issue. Other than the obvious fact that it really isn’t his body or his personal clothing choice, it gives off the idea that a woman wearing clothing a certain way is an invitation for something to happen. Like if she wears a short skirt, if she gets raped, well it’s her fault for wearing something sexually suggestive. Or if she wears a shirt showing a lot of cleavage and she gets thrown perverted remarks, she was asking for it.

This sort of stuff places all the responsibility of maintaining abstinence on the victim, and none of it on the attacker. It’s so completely ingrained into our culture that women are doing themselves some kind of disservice if they wear something suggesting promiscuity, but it’s entirely unfair because why do women have to go through several lengths to tamper down an image just so that nothing happens? How about the men just keep to themselves?

At the end of the day, you can argue that this is just Lee Min-ho’s preference and that he isn’t being offensive or discriminatory, but this type of opinion, voiced by a famous and well-liked actor, just perpetuates this stigma against women dressing a certain way because it’s an invitation for attack. I’m not saying I’m a fan of breasts hanging out of shirts or shorts that don’t cover anything, but it’s ridiculous how many things girls have to do in order to “feel safe” in an environment.

Some posts of relevance regarding news on a condom introduced pre-World Cup that was meant to “prevent” rape (but by doing so, placed the responsibility of preventing rape on the women, not the rapists. Ergo, if a woman was raped, she wasn’t doing enough to prevent it.):
- Rape-aXe Condom Distributed During World Cup
- Penis-Shredding Condom Can’t Actually Prevent Rape

Personal Taste, episodes 5 to whatever it’s up to now

Guess the title of the post gives you a sense of my feelings towards the show, eh?

I took it off my “Currently watching” list because I had a couple of problems with the show starting with episodes 5 and 6, and then they got to be bigger and bigger problems as the weeks went by. Maybe I just have slight drama ADD and can’t emotionally invest in more than one drama at a time, but it’s hard for me not to compare Personal Taste with Cinderella’s Sister at the moment — not because the stories or the actors are appropriate points of comparison, but it’s easy to compare the level of writing that goes into each and the direction that each story takes.

At the heart of it, both Personal Taste and Cinderella’s Sister have the standard story lines typical to both television serials and K-dramas in particular — PT harps on the move-in-male-who-falls-for-girl, and CS is a Cinderella story. But what piqued my interest is that both of those dramas try to subvert those norms by angling the story in a different light: PT goes for the sexuality factor and CS goes for the reversal of the Cinderella plight.

Surprisingly, it’s not how the writers chose to handle the sexuality plotline that I have a problem with — in fact, I think this show does a really good job illustrating sexuality in both men and women — but the problem I have is that there are some things that suspend my belief and makes me go, “Really? You’re gonna use that plot contrivance? Really??”

Minor spoilers ahead.

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