Petty-minded satirists crossed the line

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Petty-minded satirists crossed the line


A few years ago, excessively revealing clothing and lingerie-style fashion became the controversy of the summer. I couldn’t help but laugh while watching a televised news segment on the issue. A young reporter who was interviewing people on the street in downtown Seoul asked an old man, “What do you think about the revealing outfits fashioned by young women?” The reporter expected the man to be disapproving of the trend. Much to her dismay, the interviewee said, “I am grateful.”

The controversy over scanty fashion resurfaced when the hosts of the popular podcast “I’m a Petty-Minded Creep” urged female listeners to send in photos of themselves posing in bikinis. “Former lawmaker Jeong Bong-ju is spending lonely nights and taking sex-drive suppressants,” they said on the program. “So please feel free to send in your bikini photos.” Some female supporters posted photos with messages like “Free Jeong Bong-ju” written on their partially revealed chests. To be frank, I was grateful.

But the reality is that these photographs went too far. While there is room for these satirists to work, they have crossed the line.

They may think that anything is justifiable because they have a political message and countless supporters.

Or they could be modeling after the SlutWalk protests against excusing sexual offenses based on women’s appearances, or the nude anti-fur protests. At any rate, if they call it freedom of speech, those lawmakers criticized for inappropriate comments may feel wrongfully accused.

A sense of mortification followed immediately after viewing the photos because I belong to the general group of offenders. In fact, feminist scholars have been discussing the female body as a commodity and object. Two contradicting responses have been proposed, refusing to be a beautiful woman and considering beauty as a privilege. However, both stances are not free from a patriarchal perspective, so other ways are being actively discussed to improve the status of women (Lee Yeong-a, “Making of Beautiful Women).

Gender issues are a minefield with complicated clashes of interests. There is no one clear solution. “I’m a Petty-Minded Creep” should sincerely apologize. And the apology should be shared by all men in the country, whether they like the show or not.

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo

by Noh Jae-hyun
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