Some of you may know me. I’m Mama B from Kpop Mamas. I’m an American Kpop Fan; You Tuber of kpop music video reviews, blogger (or at least I try), I’m an A.R.M.Y./VIP/CARAT and most importantly to me a wife of 10 years and a mother of 2 young girls.
The first time my daughter started singing a Nicki Minaj song at 2 years old I realized I needed to seriously start monitoring what she was listening to and the example I was setting for her. Around that time I found Kpop and was immediately drawn to the fact that I could play these songs in front of her and the M/V’s could be part of our nightly “Dance Parties” in our kitchen.
So when I saw this Soompi article talking about my favorite group (Noona ARMY here!) and specifically Rapmon, being in trouble with ARMY (of all people) for misogynistic lyrics and comments I was interested to say the least. I do truly believe that there are misogynist and anti feminist themes running throughout the music industry and I was encouraged to find that people were finally talking about them. I was also at the same time confused on what BTS could have done that would get ARMY riled up. Possible lyrics and M/V’s started running through my head as I started making a list of what I was going to see as the “issues”.
And when I read what the uproar was over, I was immediately disappointed that THESE were the examples everyone decided to take a stand on. And now of all times so far after all of these songs have been released and statements made.
HERE ARE THE ISSUES AS SITED BY SOOMPI:
“Lyrics from the song “Joke” by Rap Monster, under fire for the implied sexual prejudice from the use of “gonorrhea”:
“Yea, you’re the best woman, being bossy. You do so f**king well, being bossy. But now that I think about it, you were never the boss. Instead of boss I’ll say gonorrhea.”
(Note: This is also wordplay, as the words for “being bossy” and “gonorrhea” are only different by one syllable.)”
My thoughts on this one… Misogyny inherently means that if I replaced a man in the sentence above it would no longer make sense as it’s directed solely to women. In this case I just don’t see how wordplay between bossy and an STD has anything to do with the persons gender. It’s like calling someone “Stinky Stanley” Stanley isn’t stinky because he is a boy; he is called Stinky because it rhymes with his name. Every elementary school child knows this is how you make fun of someone you don’t like… right? I mean this is a lesson I learned back in the “olden days” of playground bullies and mean kids. Now if anyone was going to be pissed about this lyric it should be how he calls a woman “bossy” like it’s a negative. Women who are “bossy” regularly get labeled as “bitchy” while men are called “tough”. THAT is where the objection should have come from, but here we are upset over a “Stinky Stanley” situation.
“Lyrics from “Converse High,” under fire for objectification:
“I like you. But don’t ever wear Converse lows.”
Ok so I almost laughed when I read this originally.
The first thing that came to my mind is a conversation I had about 6 months ago with my 3 yo daughter who came to me almost in tears during one of our “Dance Parties”. She was watching the music video to a song she really liked, “Boy In Luv” by BTS.
Her urgent and distressed question “Mama!! Are they BAD guys now?!” utterly confused me. So we sat down and I asked her why she would think BTS were suddenly “bad boys”? Her response was and I will never forget “Well mom he is pushing her against the wall and pulling her and mom we DON’T do that to people! Why is he taking her away?” If you’ve never seen the video this is what she is referring to.
My first thought was, “my god I can’t believe I let my daughter watch this” and the 2nd was “but look at the conversation we just had” and I had what was a very basic yet profound conversation with her about how we behave toward others and why sometimes what we see on TV is not true or right.
But it got me thinking, and THIS is where I think the conversation should be. WHY IS IT OK TO LAY YOUR HANDS ON A WOMAN IN KPOP? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen in American music videos, it does. However in Kpop it is routine to see a girl being dragged off against her will. And she is rarely if ever putting up a fight or defending herself.
If anything I find this line from Rapmon to be more of an example of gender bias toward men. It is routine for women to tell their significant others not to dress a certain way or wear certain clothes and it’s no big deal right? I mean men don’t have fashion sense (heavy sarcasm here) and they need our help. But a man tells a woman what he likes her in and we suddenly have a very taboo subject.
Lyrics from “War of Hormones,” under fire for objectification:
“A woman is the best present.”
If he had said “a woman is the greatest gift in the world” no one would have batted an eye. C’mon people. This one is a stretch at best.
But while we are on the subject let’s talk about a group of people that are routinely objectified. Touched without permission, physically assaulted and the object of extreme and dangerous stalking by so called “loved ones”…. The members of BTS and MANY other groups are regularly treated as though they are objects. Are seldom given the respect they deserve as fellow human beings; and this treatment is almost always at the hands of the “fans” they are supposed to be grateful and thankful to. When BTS is no longer hunted down in the streets, knocked down in airports and stalked (all in the last 3 months) by their fans, is when I think ARMY can start talking about how a silly comment about shoes “objectifies” them.
Here is the tweet from Suga — from May 16, 2013 — and the lyrics that were brought into question:
The Tweet, under fire for its aggression:
Suga says, “I’m watching you all. If I catch you looking elsewhere, I’ll [take a photo/hit] with my camera. ^^ With the corner. ^^ On the crown of your head ^^”
(Note: The tweet uses a play on the Korean word jjikda, a verb which can mean “take a picture” as well as “hit a point with an object; stick; hack (with an axe).”)
This is the only one that I actually think is moderately inappropriate. But the first thing I thought when I saw the original Tweet?
“Suga was performing some serious fanservice for ARMY they are going to love it.”
Y’all I really am A.R.M.Y. and I love these boys. I am in BTS fan groups on several social media platforms and I think we can ALL agree that it is not in any way unusual for someone to say “My husband Yoongi better NOT look at another girl like that!”. Or earlier this year when Twitter ARMY thought they saw a pic of Jungkook with a “girlfriend” (it wasn’t him in the pic by the way) and the hashtag #CuttingForKookie sprang up over night. Y’all I cried when I saw that… really shed tears for those girls, for the girl in the pic that was misidentified, and for Jungkook. I find the entire “He is mine” talk very uncomfortable. It directly leads to the sasaeng culture that is so prevalent and many of the obsessive fan issues we see everywhere. Taking this fan behavior into account I honestly never thought twice about him saying something possessive like that that to his fans… I mean they say it to him ALL THE TIME. It’s like when Jungkook looks into the camera and says “ARMY I’ll be your boyfriend”. Fan service is everywhere. Was this done poorly? Yeah probably shouldn’t talking about knocking girls over the head Suga… but is this worthy of all that’s been said and done so far? I don’t think so.
I truly believe there is a difference between
- Outright misogyny on a repeat basis that is followed up with action… Like we see in American rap culture, or even in Korean Rap at times.
- And artists taking some license while talking about the very real issues and differences between men and women and their experiences.
To me this whole BTS experience is clearly the 2nd.
I am proud of BTS and Rapmon for standing up for their ideals and feel those far outweigh any perceived negatives from over 3 years of successful song writing.
Let’s instead talk about the serious issues that these girls and young women will be dealing with for the rest of their lives. How at Kcon NY the most popular and largest booth was giving away free BMI checks to teenagers and giveaways of “plastic surgery trips” to Korea.
Education starts at home in how we teach our daughters to value themselves and understand their own unique beauty and self worth. So that when a man tells them “don’t wear those shoes” they do what I did. Laugh at the thought of a man telling her what shoes to wear. THESE are the deep seeded and negative images that girls all over the world are dealing with. Fat shaming of the beautiful and talented girl groups. Not this nit picky report of misogyny. Lets give these young men a break and put this effort into talking about the REAL issues and problems.
I think it is a testament to how POWERFUL and AMAZING A.R.M.Y and the fandoms of Kpop are that they could turn a simple question into a full-fledged conversation and apology in less than 60 days. You all have POWER in your voice. Especially in this day and age of social media and technology. We can come together and talk about issues that we all face as women no matter what our age. And demand the fair treatment of women in music, especially kpop. So while I don’t agree that this was the right place to start… it WAS a start. And I hope the conversation continues and grows and moves on to bigger and better outcomes. In the meantime love to all of my fellow ARMY and of course one of my favorite lyricists out there bar none Rapmon. Do you RM it’s a great thing you are doing and accomplishing in your young life.