Hello, my Blogspot darlings. I know I've not been very good. But, to be honest, these days it's just kind of one foot in front of the other. There hasn't been too much to say, or too much I've felt like it was even worth it to try to say, depending on the day.
But I've just about had it tonight. And I'm not going to link to anything, or cite any sources, because I'm tired of dealing with all of that. If you know where I'm getting it from, that's great, and if you don't, you'll just have to take my word for it.
When I came to Korea, it was hard to be a Western woman here. Every morning when you woke up and turned on your computer, you were bombarded with messages about how Western women could never measure up to Korean women, how they didn't put in the effort with their physical appearances, how their bodies were lax and sloppy in comparison, about how Korean women in fact preferred Western men, because they were less demanding and abusive than Korean men, from whom they wished to escape. About how Western men also preferred Korean women, because they were also less demanding than their Western counterparts. About how Korean men, in turn, couldn't possibly be expected to prefer Western women, given all of the areas where Korean women had them so sufficiently outdone.
And the descriptions of what made a K-girl. The men who walked down the same streets where I saw Korean women of all ages, sizes and varieties dressed in all ranges of styles, and somehow managed to come to the conclusion that the one out of twenty between the ages of 18 and 28, with high heels and a mini skirt and perfectly applied makeup were the entire definition of Korean women. Or, rather, K-girls.
Western women in Korea slowly but surely began to rally together to try to deal with all of this. The blatant misogyny and, at times, racism of it all, and piece by piece started to deconstruct the behavior and break it down for what it was. The platform Tumblr, in particular, provided for bloggers made it easy for one person to link to a blog or forum post of a particularly nefarious nature, and pass it along, adding comments and creating in depth conversations out of thin air. A community was formed, and although there were disagreements, it was nice. It was nice not to feel like the sole female voice being dropped into an ocean of shouting men, for once, whether those men be on an internet forum, or forming a circle around you in a bar.
And we found men who agreed, and who shared our views of the situation, and who had no problems breaking from the old school boys' club mentality, and pointing out that they had been there all along, not saying those things, and being just as incensed by them, in fact.
For about a year after the first wave of Korean dating blogs penned by women appeared, nothing happened. There was the occasional mention on Dave's ESL, either being cited as a source for people who had never heard of Western women dating Korean men before, or being linked to as a source of curiosity and humor, an oddity or a chance, as some men put it, to imagine the entire wide world in reverse. How novel. I, and a few other bloggers, eventually perked up and took notice. Something very interesting was happening. After a while, it eventually became common knowledge, in certain circles, that this was a thing that was going on.
When the second or third wave of Korean dating blogs started to pop up, my friends and I started to nervously make jokes. And they were jokes, but they were nervous, because we saw some turns that were being taken that made us feel just that -- nervous. This thing was catching fire, and fast. It seemed like there was a new dating blog -- no exaggeration -- every week. And the tone had changed, as well. It started to shift from, "Hey here we are, doing this thing that everyone is trying to insist doesn't happen," to, "Oh yeah, I do that, too. We all do that." And that was a great thing.
In a lot of ways, either because the dating dynamics in Korea with foreigners have actually changed, or because it was revealed openly on the internet, one way or another, it does feel these days as though the myth has been debunked, and the taboo has been broken. It's not like it was when I first came, when seeing a Western woman holding hands with a Korean man on the street was the equivalent of a unicorn sighting, and when that one guy who is late to the party starts in about how Korean men don't go for Western women, or the reverse, everyone seems to kind of take a deep breath in and exchange knowing looks. Whenever I am out in public with my boyfriend now, and we happen upon another group of foreigners, nobody can be bothered to even look twice. I certainly don't feel like the walking freak show I once did in the same situation before.
And that is fucking fantastic. I honestly had no reason to expect I would ever see the day.
But the nervousness came in when we started to see the tone shift a little further. Suddenly, there were little comments here and there every few months about white guys not being attractive, or about Korean girls being too interested in a man's money. And there was even this new phrase being bounced around from here to there -- K-boy.
Surely not, we thought. Surely not, after all of the conversations we've had, after all of the posts that have been made dissecting the blog posts and forum posts and casually rude comments we've had flung at us out in public. Surely we are more aware than that.
And I think for the most part that the women who were around for long enough to remember were (and are). But there are women here now who don't remember, who weren't here to see the way that it was. Or who were, but who somehow haven't noticed the correlation.
And it's not really just the occasional comment, anymore. It's starting to grow and morph into something more than an off-hand comment that could be taken in a certain way, if you really tried. More and more every day it seems to be becoming an issue of status and competition, of comparisons that never really needed to be made in the first place. Korean women. Western men. It's starting to feel a little like I'm slipping into a Bizarro World of the one I entered when I first arrived in Korea.
It's really starting to piss me off, frankly, and not only because I feel like my feminist club membership card might be demanded for inspection every time I go to say something about it. Because it's not okay to classify all Western men as gross and sloppy, or to pigeon hole Korean men, the category, into the ones that you personally find sexually viable, or to put down Korean women in an attempt to explain why you are the better option. And saying so doesn't make me jealous or petty or destructive toward other women, or our community as a whole. Does it?
Maybe it does. But that's not the way we felt toward the men who pointed it out when the exact same thing was happening in reverse. And I'm still trying to figure out how or why it's okay, just because we're women. Why we shouldn't hold ourselves and our community to higher standards than that, especially given the first-hand experience we've had being on the receiving end of it.
I just wish everyone would be careful. To remember where we came from, and to try to be as respectful toward others as we wished they would have been, when the shoe was on the other foot. No "community" is exempt from its questionable moments or members, but I did wish at the time that other men would have done more to speak up, when our female voices mattered very little.