Ever since the feminist movement has gained more and more young supporters, as fans of different artists sometimes we push an erroneous idea of what a powerful woman is like. We imagine that the only way a woman can show her power is by defying norms or acting differently than the others when in reality femininity has many forms of showing strength.
Some K-Pop fans get this absurd idea and practically ignore groups with good music just because they don’t like their “concept” or don’t “find it empowering” and even think their songs are “generic”. I wanna emphasize the fact that there is not a “concept” for power and for what a female should represent: with solo artists like CL, Hyuna and Jessi, and groups like 2NE1, 4Minute and EXID, just to name a few, the strength of a woman is being well represented, but that doesn’t mean groups like Twice, Gfriend or the veteran girl group Apink are not empowering.
Twice, a nine-member South Korean based group consisting of members from three different countries, is the biggest South Korean girl group and unarguably one of the biggest girl groups of this generation worldwide in terms of sales and success and of course they’re not an extent of hate comments: they’re called “talent-less” just to name some of the comments I encounter online. For people in general who want women to “succeed” it’s highly hypocritical to constantly try to bring down the biggest female representation the whole South Korea possesses nowadays.
Gfriend, on the other hand, is also one of the top groups in South Korea, consisting of six members. They debuted in 2015, the same year as Twice. With only two years in the industry, both Twice and Gfriend have outstanding numbers in terms of sales and the famous music show wins. Gfriend is usually insulted with comments that state “their songs sound the same” when in reality that is a good thing since it means even if their career is short compared to other groups they already have their own sound and it is recognized by the public. They are also known for their powerful choreography. Here is a high note compilation video showing the vocal capability of Gfriend’s main vocalist Yuju, make sure to be ready for 1:33.
Twice’s main vocalist, Jihyo, was a trainee for ten years -practically half of her life- and before debuting the whole group appeared in a survival show called “Sixteen”. There she was harshly fat-shamed by one of the judges and has since then lost weight, but during that time she performed “All About That Bass” –a clear clap back to the haters.
Now let’s talk about the real issue here apart from the senseless hate: it’s our bad perception of what a female musical act is supposed to do. The following tweet states that “they would like to see Twice singing deep lyrics, far from superficiality and what ‘girls always do'” and also says “they have the potential to speak of most important things that are useful for the youth nowadays”.
Quisiera ver a Twice cantando letras profundas, alejadas de la superficialidad y lo que se supone que “siempre hacen las chicas”
Me gusta Twice, pero creo que tienen el potencial para hablar de cosas más importantes que sirvan para los jovenes de hoy en día.
— Mochi 🇨🇴 (@astrology_tae) December 30, 2017
Celebrities are not activists. That doesn’t mean you have to excuse celebrities’ shi**y behavior, it just means music can be about anything and not specifically a speech about global issues; for example, if you listen to “Sweet Creature” by Harry Styles, a cute heartfelt song about love, and “I Want To Be Well” by Sufjan Stevens, a song that describes the desperation of going through mental illness, there are in no way comparable, no song is better or worse, they’re just music, and even if we agree that Sufjan’s song gets deeper, music can be about everything and it will still be good music to the listeners.
Talking about deep things and dressing a certain way isn’t a way to be empowering. Twice’s song “Likey” talks about the struggles of being beautiful in front of a camera. The problem? Their “concept”.
Its internalized misogyny🙄 they can talk all they want about female empowerment but in the end their idea of female empowerment is masculinity, any feminity is "weak" and too "girly"(whats wrong with being girly??? Whys manly good but girly bad?? Fake asses) 🙄🙄
— Yilin (@domykyungsoo) December 23, 2017
Twice are already empowering women just by being who they are: successful.
TWICE literally took everything 😌 pic.twitter.com/og6SkmWMKV
— SK (@SubjectKpop) December 30, 2017
They were recently at number #3 on the monthly South Korean ranking of kpop groups, the highest girl group just after the highly popular Wanna One and the global sensation BTS; they also got their 36th win on music shows in 2017, making them the group (including both male and female) with most music show wins and ranked #1 on three categories on the annual Oricon Chart ranking in Japan.
Another example of how femininity is limited by a concept is the case of CLC, a seven-member group that debuted in 2015. Their concepts have been varied, but when earlier this year they released their title song “Hobgoblin” with the help of Hyuna, who I previously mentioned before as a fierce example of power, they gained many fans internationally and even made their first appearance on Billboard charts such as the World Albums and World Digital Sales charts. But where were they before their international, massively hyped hit Hobgoblin? They were right there. What was it that made people notice them? Their concept. Were they always empowering? Hell yes.
CLC have a song about the sexualizacion of minors and sexual harrasment but ofc it isn´t empowering nor about something important because their concept is "cute"
— Soraya (@Purpleikon) December 22, 2017
Finally, the case of DIA also got my attention. They’re also a nine-member group that debuted in 2015 They literally composed the lyrics and music for their whole album called “YOLO”, and are one of the girl groups with the most credits as a songwriter or composer in the K-Pop industry with just a two-year career, but somehow they’re not “hyped” for that when this tweet exists:
Why is it? their concept.
It’s time to stop limiting the success of women in the music industry. I always see tweets about supporting women but somehow it feels as if women ourselves always find a way to constantly limit each other. All of us are different from each other, music itself is diverse.
Let’s cheer for the women who are leaving a footprint in the music industry, support them instead of constantly comparing them. Respect them instead of bringing them down… it’s not that hard.