I got a little nasty about this while I was home on my other blog. I was home. I was dealing with a lot of serious issues at home. And I wasn't taking things as well as I usually do. Korea was, a little bit, the furthest thing from my mind. What happened? I got some emails. I always get these emails. Every few weeks or so, a few of them will drop into my inbox. I'm normally a little 'urgh' about them, but I understand that people's intentions are not bad, and I don't usually overreact to them.
I may have been a little bit out of order with making the post in question, although I did resist putting it up here, and stuck it in my 'personal' blog instead, because I understood at the time that it was a 'personal' reaction. I would like to take the chance, before continuing on, to apologize to anyone who I may have unintentionally offended. I don't want anyone to ever feel like they can't email me about literally the most mundane of subjects, because they're afraid I might bite their heads off. I've had a lot of foreigners help me in a lot of ways since coming to the ROK, and I want to make it clear that, although I'm absolute shit at getting around to responses at times, I don't in any way resent being contacted.
That having been said, I would like to explain what part of my issue was a bit more clearly. And less bitchily, if at all possible. I'll get to what the other part of the issue was when I get into what I see as some issues with fetishization in a future post.
The number one subject that leads anyone to this blog through googling is anything related to dating. Why? Those stupid ass posts I made regarding Korean dating culture. They've been linked to death, on all kinds of different websites, a number of which seem to cater to foreign girls who have a thing for Korean men. It's understandable that someone coming to this blog from such a site would also be viewing me through a certain lens, and would then somehow feel compelled to email me about how _________ Korean men are. I get that. And I don't resent it.
I've also become quite chummy with a few of the original 'Kboy bloggers'. We often "reblog" each other on Tumblr, and I've personally met, so far, three of them. They are absolutely lovely people. All three are beautiful, insightful, funny women. Because of the reblogging that goes on, and the more recent mentions of us spending time together 'in real life', I think there's also been some confusion relating to the nature of what I do.
I understand all of this, and wanted to make that clear before I say what I'm about to say. Because I don't live in a vacuum, and I know where some of it is coming from.
That having been said. Do you remember the last time I blogged about a date? I do. It was the last time I went on a date -- in July. And it wasn't in this blog. It was in the other one. On purpose. Do you remember the last time I blogged about my sex life? No. You don't. Why? Because I don't blog about my sex life.
So. What the fuck, then? Why? I was talking about this with Hot Yellow Fellows and Dating in Korea at dinner on Saturday night, and they're just as baffled as I am. They know I'm not a dating blogger. They also know, in far more detail, how hilarious thinking of me as one at the moment is.
Here's the thing -- I'm not going to pretend to know everything about the blogging community in the ROK. I've only been here for two years, and didn't actually read any blogs regularly, other than those of my personal friends, until about a year ago. When I sit around with other foreigners and somehow the subject of blogging comes up, I'm the one who's usually sitting there going, "Wait... what? Who is that?" But it doesn't take an expert to notice how male-dominated the Kblogging world is.
Why is it male-dominated? I could muse on a million reasons, but I think it's mostly that the ESL world in the ROK is a bit male-dominated. At least it seems to be to me, as I've had trouble meeting any women foreigners at all. The foreign women I encounter in Korea tend to be more introverted, mostly keeping to themselves. And it seems that more men are taking the initiative to write in a less personal (ie more public) way about their experiences here. I don't know that for a fact -- there may be dozens of women bloggers out there who are writing fascinating things about their time here that relate to a lot of other people, and maybe I've just missed the boat. Or maybe they simply don't get linked as often, because men can/do relate more to other men. Either way, I think we can all agree that big names in Kblogging have almost always been male. For whatever reason.
And then the Kboy bloggers happened. And what they did was revolutionary in the moment when they did it. Western male readers will almost surely all disagree with me on this, and that's something I will get into in the next post. But the point is, suddenly there were female bloggers in Korea who were pulling in as much (if not more) attention than the male bloggers. And they were blogging about dating.
Now. It's not fair to say they were the first. Among female bloggers in Korea, when the subject turns to other women they looked up to when they first arrived, two names do come up again and again, those being Going Places and Amanda Takes Off. Now. Both are married to Korean men. And they blog about that, as they blog about all kinds of other various aspects of their lives. As many of the male bloggers also blog about their Korean wives/girlfriends. So why is it that nearly every time someone makes a reference to GP or ATO, it's quickly followed by a description about who they're married to? When I've never once heard that happen when someone mentions, say, Roboseyo or The Grand Narrative, who also have Korean spouses?
You know. I would love to be able to blame this all on men. I really would. I would love to say that men have been somehow 'keeping us down', repressing our voices, pushing us into boxes that allow us only to exist in relation to who we are dating, or fucking. But it's simply not true. There are fair enough arguments about the male-tilted aspect of blogging in Korea, which have been brought about by the male population, which I'll get into in a minute. But the truth is, I believe this has mostly been done by women. And it is almost always women who refer to me as a dating blogger, or who email me about Korean men.
Ladies, my question is, what are you doing? I know you're out there. I know you are insightful and intelligent and well-spoken. I know you have valid things to say about your experiences here in the ROK. Which is not to say that the dating bloggers aren't doing that -- they absolutely are. But that's only one aspect of our experience here. Don't tell me that it's the only way we're capable of expressing ourselves, or that it's the only source of interest we have in paying any attention to each other. Community is what you make of it, and so far, ours hasn't been very strong.
Not that it's easy. You'll all (the women, I mean) know exactly what I mean when I reference the boys' club aspect of life here as a female expat. Especially if you're in an outer-lying area, as I am. And I don't even need to point out how many times someone (a man) has linked to something in my blog, using male pronouns to describe the author. Back before I was fucking banned from Dave's, I was constantly being confused for a male poster. Unless I was posting in response to something derogatory someone had said about Korean women, Western women, or Korean men. Then I was just called a lesbian. Anytime I said anything they agreed with, I was greeted with a fresh batch of "he"s the next time I logged on.
Even in this very blog, when I try to say something about women, the comments area can quickly degenerate into an argument amongst men about men. And randomers will sometimes stop by to leave a comment "agreeing" with me about one thing or another, that can be disgustingly misogynistic. Or they can leave hate-filled comments that run much along the same lines. Talking over me, in my own fucking blog, as though they were born with a microphone shoved up their asses, which the whole world is obligated to be quiet and listen to.
And then there was the time someone anonymously asked me if I'd ever had sex with a Korean man. Which I found incredibly inappropriate. And I genuinely wonder if any of the male bloggers have ever had something like that asked of them. Because I have my suspicions that, for whatever reason, it was asked because I am a woman.
I'm not a dating blogger. There's nothing wrong with being a dating blogger, but there is something wrong with relegating any woman who speaks up to her position in relation to men. Especially when she hardly even mentions them, anymore. I've dated in Korea. I've made posts about Korean dating culture. But just because I'm a woman, and I discuss my ideas and impressions about these things, doesn't mean that that's all that I am. And it's not the only thing, ladies, that we can be.
The big name male bloggers have mostly, from my perspective, done an excellent job being respectful of their female counterparts. But the other men who wander about leaving comments can sometimes be fucking atrocious. Nearly every time someone links to something I've posted on Dave's, I want to turn off my comments forever, for all the riff-raff it can bring over.
Men, what I want to say to you is this: please try to remember that you are not the only ones here, even if you only ever spend time with other men. And you don't need to stumble in to female discussions and shout loudly about how your experience is not our experience, and you are obviously the center of the universe, and therefore right about everything. We know we're not the same as you. Newsflash: you are not the standard. And you don't need to interrupt every conversation to redirect our attention to you, you, you. I'm sorry that it's hard for you to endure someone's attention not being focused on the male experience anywhere on the internet, but that's why God invented the little red x -- if you're really suffering, just make use of it. Our conversations will continue on and you will be left peacefully in the bliss that is your own ignorance. It's going to be okay. Don't panic.