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In Session: Rewriting a Korean Feminist History: Gender, Sexuality, and Media in Motion
2: Viral Feminism of Korean “Female Troll Groups,” Megalia and Womad
Monday, March 22, 2021
12:30pm – 2:00pm EDT
University of Minnesota, United States
Often accused of “mentally deranged,” “not worth living,” “worse than a murderer,”and“dirty,” Korean extremist feminist online collectives, Megalia (2015) and Womad(2017), are envisioned as “hikikomori,” a disparaging Japanese term for social misanthropes and recluses, often used in reference to internet addicts, internet trolls, and sociopaths. Although pointing to a more complex gender dynamic, the blurry line between who the real victims and perpetrators are in the case of the “female trolls”evokes a similar type of social paranoia as male trolls do: whether they are, as Whitney Phillips maintains, “a grotesque pantomime of dominant cultural tropes,” or fully culpable of initiating a new type of cybercrime. Instead of reinforcing the mystifying rhetoric around “female trolls” as an uncharted social phenomenon, this paper corroborates the mutually constitutive relation between the ever-mounting cyber harassment, which predominantly targets women, and the vexing coinage of the neologism, “female trolls,”in order to foreground deeper structural problems of South Korea: Korea’s prevailing misogyny through online platforms as the flip side of the coin of the utopianism around the Internet that it is an embodiment of the democracy, which the Republic of Korea (1948-) has achieved as a crowning achievement after its independence (1945).