Critical Discussion: “SNL Korea and Meng Jia’s ‘Drip’: A Casual Conversation on Double Standards and Equity”

“SNL
Korea and Meng Jia’s ‘Drip’: A Casual Conversation on Double Standards and Equity”

Posted on December 1, 2016

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Personal
Message:
I have
never felt this disorganized in quite some time, but it is time I clarify what
this post is. As some readers may know, similar past posts have been titled with
“Blog Opinion” or in fact, similar discussions have taken place directly in
reviews themselves. However, I have decided to change all of that: very lengthy
social discussions will now have their own separate posts and reviews will now
be purely focused on music—unless if there are minor discussions that can fit.
Consider this new type of post, “Critical Discussion,” a way of combining “Blog
Opinion” and social discussions in reviews into one convenient place.

Doing this allows music reviews to
indeed maintain their pure focus on the song at hand, and furthermore, it
allows readers to better “balance” my content. After all, it is incredibly hard
to suddenly transition one’s mind to a social lens when expecting a purely
musically focused review, and then after the social discussion, to then
transition back into a music lens. Thus, separating the two, I have decided, is
the best route. Consider this—to be quite cliché—a new chapter on the blog.

That said, the following discussion
has been excerpted—if I may use that word—from the Personal Message of a review
on Meng Jia’s “Drip.” The actual review will be posted some time later as I
finish up on it. This separation of social and musical discussions came only
after I finished and realized how difficult even it was for myself to
transition in mindset.

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
(Note: As said above, this came from the Personal Message of
Meng Jia’s “Drip.” Thus, the language used reflects that and may come off as confusing
given the context was originally in the review post itself.)

Although the following may come off
as abrupt or even harsh, I will be clear with this specific Personal Message:
it might get very controversial. To that, if readers are uncomfortable with
discussing social topics, while I strongly encourage readers to stay for the
conversation, it is only right that readers have their own voices and
decisions. Thus, if this is the case, I suggest only reading the few last paragraphs
here where I discuss “Drip,” but more significantly, to skip to the review
itself. After all, I understand I have a relatively wide audience that ranges
from readers who care for purely the critical music discussion but also those
who come for that and a critical
social discussion. Either way, point is, readers should decide now on whether
they wish to read this Personal Message.

With that, no matter where a reader
is located in the world, given that every reader (yes, a bold generalization)
here is into K-Pop, I hope this following discussion is important and relevant.
After all, only through maturely and intellectually discussing social
topics—from gender, race, class, sexuality, and so forth—are we able to become
more loving, compassionate, understanding, empathetic and critically thinking
human beings. That said, for this review, I do wish to finally discuss the
topic of “double standards”—a topic I noticed gaining traction, but moreover,
becoming a completely complex topic that has garnered both support and
challenging as we will get into.

While I will focus on “Drip” in
relation to double standards, in terms of why I say it is a topic that is
gaining traction and attention, in the context of K-Pop this topic of double
standards has come to life outside of “Drip”: SNL Korea’s recent scandal. For
those unaware, I am indeed referring to how female staff members have sexually
harassed male idols as a supposed “welcoming tradition” in order to make the
men feel more comfortable. You read that correctly, and assuming one has basic
logic, a reader should be able to find the sweet irony: sexually harassing male
idols somehow makes them more comfortable on the show. Somehow.

Specifically for the actions
occurred, to be rather frank, the guesting male idols would be lined up and
then, for a surprise, certain female staff members would run up to them and
grab the male idols’ genital area. The worst news has yet to come, though: the
true horror is that these female staff members are facing no penalties minus
having to write apology letters to the public. Where does “double standards”
come in? Imagine if the genders were reversed: female idols having their
genital area grabbed by male staff members. Indeed, the staff members would
suffer much—and rightfully so. And yet, why do we socially turn a blind eye to the
male victims and excuse the women’s horrendous behaviors? Why? Why is this
double standard in place for male victims while everyone is suddenly rushing to
support female victims—again, this is a right action and I am not bashing that, but why is this “right
action” only applied to females?

I do not deny that males are still
socially privileged and that double standards is oftentimes when a marginalized
group is the one becoming even more vulnerable because of such. But, these
cases are still equally double standards at work, and I would argue that there are reasons for why male victims are
silenced—these reasons being tied into gender inequality and the dominant view
of masculinity being superior to femininity. For example, just ponder over
this: what happens to male victims when socially we regard men as “invincible” and
“tough” and “lacking emotions,” and that women are “weak” and thus “always need
protection” and could never be rapists or sexual harassers? What happens, then,
when those fictional standards are busted and truly occur: a woman does rape a man; a woman does beat her husband; a man does need help and protection and
emotional support.

Sadly, as this SNL Korea incident
reveals, perhaps when the realities conflict with our presumptions of gender
norms, we (“we” as in collective societies) do tend to ignore the believed “fantasy.”
We do ignore the men crying out for help; we do ignore the men who have been
raped by women; we do ignore the men’s voices and instead claim that they “should’ve
enjoyed it” or that “it is simply impossible.” And so, while male privilege is still
definitely in place, in certain cases where men are supposedly breaking gender
norms and falling into the socialized category of “feminine,” suddenly the
tables turn: men no longer have power in these scenarios because socially we
refuse to believe that a woman can overpower—physically, mentally,
emotionally—a man. But, the reality is there: that can—and does—happen, and for people who believe in gender equality/feminism,
social justice, and ultimately believe in treating humans ethically and to be
compassionate, men cannot be brushed out of the picture with blind bashing of
“but male privilege” or “but we should only care for women.”

Indeed our role as socially responsible
people is to side with the marginalized. If this means men in certain cases,
then indeed, I personally will stand by men and, such as in the case of SNL
Korea, I will be boldly critiquing the women’s wrong behaviors. Equally, while
Whites in the United States have race privilege, if I was in South Korea and a
White person there was being discriminated on her race by Koreans, indeed I
would side with her because in this case, she is the marginalized.

Overall, perhaps this is to be
reminded that these “double standard” cases of males being the victims and
women the perpetrators and getting away with such are not “feminazi” work (and
likewise we can apply this outside of gender). If anything, this SNL Korea
situation reveals we need feminism
now more than ever: feminism is here to stand by marginalized women and men (and, I argue, genders that do
not fall into the binary of man/woman). It is a shame feminism is misconstrued
as the “enemy” (being seen as anti-male or even anti-gender queer) when said
“enemy” is what true feminism and feminists fight against and more. There is so
much to discuss so let us just continue on with double standards as a topic
itself.

Backing up a bit, though I bring up
this atrocious news of SNL Korea, I will not dive too much into depth on it as
I do wish to focus on “Drip” and this song’s role with double standards, and
more importantly as said, I wish to discuss double standards in of itself. However,
for readers who are interested and perhaps as frustrated as I am at this
incident, I recommend reading Soompi—an English K-Pop news site—and their
articles on it. They have done an excellent job at actually covering the event,
but furthermore unlike other K-Pop news sites that are written too
simplistically and focus more on advertisements and click-baits, Soompi does
not withdraw when it comes to voicing out a strong push for social topics and
social justice—in this case, justice for male victims whether idols or not. That
bravery and care to see K-Pop beyond a superficial level is why I constantly
recommend Soompi as a reliable K-Pop news site (for English readers)—and of
course that they, as said, deliver news without emphasis on ridiculous titles
or poorly edited and written articles. Basically, shout-out to Soompi for their
great work. (And no; I do not work or write at Soompi or any K-Pop news site
for that matter. My reviews and social discussions are all of my own
independent thoughts—and of which should be openly challenged. Likewise, I make
no profit—and have decided not to after much thought—out of this blog.)

Now that said, yes, sometimes
entertainment media are seemingly only there for the entertainment, but as I
have argued on this blog for quite literally two years, we are all human
beings: sometimes, we have to put aside our artistic lenses and actually
critique the actual, inhumane treatments that occur in pop culture. We should
not dismiss the SNL Korea incident as worthless because it is pop culture and
not “real-life news”—a phrase that is already ridiculous as it implies that pop
culture is somehow fictional and a fantasy. We certainly have to care, and I
argue we might even need to care more
than “real-life news” because pop culture is something we all consume and feel more connected with (but of course, we still
need to care for “real-life news”).

Finally focusing on the topic of
double standards, I do believe readers have a general understanding of it—or so
I would hope otherwise the entirety of my prior points make no sense. In
summary—and apologies for not doing this sooner—the idea of double standards is
that one group can perform a certain act and have it be acceptable while, if
another group (typically but not always, a marginalized one) does the exact
same act, they are criticized.

Recycling the SNL Korea incident as
an example, the double standard is that the female staff members get away with
their actions because the victims are men. Reiterating what I said earlier, if
the genders were swapped, I am positive that the staff members would lose more
than just having to write apology letters: they would be fired, potentially
face legal issues, and so on. Likewise, another example is that a woman can
almost physically hurt her man in public and no one would bat an eye, yet if
the opposite occurred, many would stand up for the woman—again, that desire to
intervene is an appropriate act; the issue is that it applies only on one end
and not the other. It is these points that people have critiqued feminism as
“feminazi” as it is assumed feminism is being “anti-male” when it is not (but
understandably, I can see why people would believe so such as in these cases). Now
perhaps the more common views of double standard—of the minoritized being shut
down—is during, for an example, a case where a woman who swears a lot is told
to be “unladylike” while the man next to her is swearing equally and yet is not
reprimanded. Another case is where a woman is told she is being too bossy or a
bitch (and I do apologize for no longer censoring words; as this blog is an
open space for critical, mature discussions, readers need to recognize any
offensive word on my end is for an educational point and not to insult a group
of people) for being a leader and yet, a man doing the same is suddenly
respected as being “a true man and leader.”

Now that we understand what double
standard is, I want to address the “big question.” Although I have already
addressed why double standards can occur in the realm of gender, I think there
is still a question no one dares ask: why do we allow some double standards to
slide in favor of the marginalized? In the case of SNL Korea, I did address a
part of the answer: in the case of gender, we ignore male victims due to the
reasons I discussed above. But, what of other scenarios such as when a woman is
allowed to say “we need more woman power in this novel” and yet a man would be
heavily criticized for saying “we need more man power in this novel”? If I did
my job correctly, people should feel heavily conflicted. For one, it is wrong
for a man who is socially privileged with his gender to say that (and in this
situation, the one in “power” versus say a male rape victim), but yet a woman
can say the same and we would embrace her (and to that, I do say yes, we
embrace her words in this situation). Why? How does double standards play out
in this case? Is it about who has power? Is there more?

With this, let us turn to “Drip.” What
do we explain in the case of Meng Jia’s “Drip” and its music video? This is
where I wish to turn our discussion to, but thankfully, her solo debut provides
an excellent example of what I argue is not necessarily double standards, but
instead, is actually a case of “equity.” Certainly this is becoming a mess and
too many sociological/social terms are being used, so let us take this slowly. Let
us first focus on “Drip” ‘s music video so we can understand where the video
stands currently.

Critical viewers of “Drip” are not
wrong to point out that a double standard is being applied in favor for women.
For example, the man in the music video is explicitly kidnapped. If the
opposite occurred—that Jia was a man and a woman character was kidnapped—then
many would critique the music video. Again as repetitively said, that would be
a correct response—so why are we not doing it here for the man and, in some
cases, why do we even praise such a
plot? (As I believe in being truthful, I am that very person who praises this
music video’s plot—even if it is seemingly applying double standards or even
“anti-male.” I will explain why I still support the video.) Furthermore, the
kidnapped man is roughly interrogated and almost implicitly tortured by the woman.
Lastly, the lyrics do not help, either: assuming the lyrics are from a woman,
it appears that she wants to control the man in every aspect and wants him to
be a sweet, submissive and lovely boy who only adores her. Just imagine if the
lyrics were from a male perspective and talking about a woman—it would not get
far, but rightfully so.

As proven, then, it very much seems
“Drip” is one-sided and should be heavily criticized—and yet it is not. Is it
because of “feminazis” or is it, as I personally will argue, there are certain
cases where “equity” is in place? (Before continuing, though, this is not to
deny that this music video is completely innocent. I argue that it is a form of
challenging patriarchy with matriarchy via how women are the ones depicted with
power and men are submissive and at the will of women. But that said, it is
worth noting this music video still very much is worth critiquing from a gender
equality perspective, and considering there are marginalized men, we need to be
cautious of this music video in regard to that. We need to keep male victims in
mind, in other words.)

When it comes to equity, it is
perhaps best described as an “equalizer” versus of “equality.” In a very
rudimentary explanation, “equality” implies every person gets the same thing,
but in “equity,” it focuses that the outcome
is equal. So for a horrible example, if I was focusing on equality in a makeup
giveaway, I would make sure every man and woman got the same item. In equity,
perhaps a woman has no cosmetics at all while the man next to her already has
two. In this instance, equity would be giving the woman two cosmetic items and
the man being given none—there is no equality here, but there is definitely
equity.

For why this is important to
understand, equity is here for a reason: it helps reach equality as an outcome.
After all, to use the prior example, if I only focused on being “equal,” the
woman would still never have as many cosmetic items as the man: she would
always be one short since everyone would be earning the same amount and the gap
remains the same. Thus, equity is important in this regard especially when we
layer social statuses on one another—for example, that it might actually be
worth giving slight priorities to male makeup artists for hire or slight hiring
priorities for female engineers. Equality would mean everyone, regardless of
their social statuses (race, gender, etc.) would be picked and instead pure
characteristics are gauged (which should still be accounted for very much), but
equity is useful here because what if we consider that the female engineer who
is applying had to overcome obstacles that a male engineer had the privilege of
not facing? (Some examples of those obstacles would be how the female engineer
never had a “head-start” as her male peers since she was taught “females are
supposed to stay at home and not be into science and math.”)

All in all, in the context of jobs,
I like to consider equity what many term as the “language advantage”: if there
are two people with the exact
qualities and skills yet one knows a second language, it is realistic to hire
the person who knows the extra language. Equity for one’s social statuses is
similar: you have a man and a woman engineer who are exactly the same, but given how women have social barriers to
overcome in this field, a hirer could argue the woman has “a slight advantage”
since she needed extra work to make it through. And to not forget, she brings
potentially a new perspective to a predominantly male-dominated field.

But without getting off topic, relating
this discussion of equity to “Drip,” we could begin to view this music video
and song not as being “anti-male” and applying double standards unfairly—or
again, the silly phrase of it being “feminazi” messaging—but instead could
interpret the music video as an interesting form of equity. After all, it is
highly doubtful the directors would wish to antagonize and victimize males; if
anything, there would seem to be a more realistic idea: challenging the idea
that women always have to be on the “submissive end.” And how do the directors
perhaps go about challenging that very notion? Through flipping the script;
through swapping gender roles and showcasing a woman who is the one controlling
men and showcasing them as the submissive, powerless one in this case.
Especially given the music video is a form of art and therefore an expression—unlike
actual events of, say, SNL Korea—and factoring in the realities that women
acting in the way Jia’s depicted character in the real world would be heavily
criticized on a social level, “Drip” truly does begin to seem like a bold
social critique of gender norms. It is far from abusing double standards and
hating males.

All that said, however, as mentioned
earlier, even such an empowering music video can come across as offensive and,
if we are truly critically, it partially does play into double standards even
if its intentions and overall point is to challenge gender inequalities. And
so, this leads us to where the main discussion of equity is currently at: what
are the ethics of it? Equity indeed, I argue, needs to exist, but to what
degree? For example, until statistically huge disparities in jobs are
minimalized, I say equity in the workplace is acceptable and even welcomed.
But, when it comes to “Drip” ‘s music video, how far can the music video’s form
of “equity” go? It is highly unlikely that the ridiculous idea of “feminazi”
would truly exist—the idea that women would not become equal but instead surpass men as superior. However, it is
something to consider over as critical readers: what if we socially do reach a
point of gender equality, but interestingly enough, matriarchy for example
begins? I personally highly doubt that would ever happen because the whole
purpose of equity and feminism in general is to create that very equality
where, currently, males are the ones who are considered the “default” at with
privilege. To then subvert that and go further to the point of inequality once
again—for example, a rather ironic future of women catcalling men and how men
would be taught to “smile” or to “not get raped” instead of telling women not
to rape men (and as critical readers can tell, I am indeed using current
rhetoric that we tell women)—is not what feminism or equity is about. But, this
debate of “how far should equity go” is something readers have to decide for
themselves and I am in no role to dictate that personal decision; my role here
is to merely provide that seed for thought.

To perhaps tie up the discussion of
equity, to restate the biggest point, I will strongly assert that equity is
here to stay. The discussion of it should not be, in my opinion, of discussing
whether equity is to exist at all; the true discussion that needs to occur is
the degree of equity as mentioned earlier. What needs to occur is that from the
dominant social group is understanding. (In specific cases, it should be noted
that the “dominant group” may vary from the general. Such a case is with female
teachers in an elementary school being the “dominant group” despite how
socially women are marginalized in “main society” if we can term it as such. I
say this because male elementary school teachers are still much less in
comparison and oftentimes are marginalized with assumptions towards their
sexuality, for example.)

It is the failure of possessing that
very understanding that proves most concerning. After all, for a drastic
example, White supremacy in the United States originates from that lack of
understanding. To elaborate, it must be understood that White supremacists are
not holding their views out of pure “delusion” or “narcissism” (or at least, I
am attempting to give this admittedly disturbing view some fair spotlight);
while they absolutely must be challenged, one of the realistic roots of the
ideology behind White supremacy is that their perception of equity is that
equity brings threats: why should Whites have to step aside at times to let
marginalized members of society have priority when “true equality” ignores
social statuses? From these people’s perspective, equity is an attack on Whites
and a shaming of their race—a view they argue is hypocritical of what equity is
supposedly bringing. To this, what they do not understand is equity is to
combat a generated advantage Whites have garnered—and most of that advantage, at
least in modern times, is actually unintentional. However, because of lacking
that viewpoint and understanding and thus interpreting equity as a “shift in
power” versus an “equalizing in power,” White supremacy takes place as a way to
“regain” power (as ironic as it may sound)—and what better way to “regain”
power than to assert that Whites are the “naturally superior race” in the
entire world?

(As a side note, a different
discussion for a future review would be “systemic oppression”; in short, it is
the idea that certain societal structures are unfair on a social level even if unintended. I emphasize “unintentionally”
otherwise we begin tracking into conspiracy theories of how, for a random
example, Whites want to dominate the world. But, I very much doubt there is a
“secret plotting” of that very notion as do conspiracy theories argue is true.
That said, many social structures unintentionally
favor certain social groups and that
seems to be convincingly true and, to be humble, I believe many are against
this systemic oppression even if benefitting from it. Point is, no one
individually is to be blamed; we all have to collaborate to challenge the
societal structure itself.)

In the end, we truly have covered
too much in such a brief, rough frame. For those who are deeply interested in
these topics, personal academic research of equity and double standards (and
perhaps White supremacy) should occur. Besides, I am far from “correct” with my
opinions—music and social. I care more for beginning a discussion that readers
can later carry on for themselves and others, and if my words provide a perfect
starting point for those very discussions, then I will be satisfied. If
anything is to be gleaned—and admittedly given the huge length of this discussion
and poor organization, it may be hard to find any worth—I simply want to
emphasize that social topics are much more complex than they appear to be.
“Double standards,” for example, is not just a debate of “feminazi or
feminism”; there are much more complicated nuances in place. Being critical is
what is always necessary, and of course, to keep an open heart for others as
cliché as it may sound.

All that covered, let us now
transition to the review itself—a rather odd feeling after such lengthy
discussions. This said, I am considering potentially splitting these types of
discussions for perhaps “Blog Opinion” posts versus reviews themselves, but
time will tell. _______________________________________________________

While I normally formally conclude
every post, for this one in specific, I find that I have technically concluded
it already given that the content was originally in a review. As such, it will
end here but I do want to add the usual words: thank you for reading this.
Whether one disagrees or agrees (or both) is irrelevant; the fact that one engages intellectually with this post at all is what
matters most, so thank you for reading it or skimming it.