Friday, February 14th, 2020 The Ethics of the MeToo Movement--Political Transition-From Politics of Identity to Politics of Solidarity

Friday, February 14, 20202:00PM - 4:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place


The MeToo movement in Korea that happened for the past two years shows some fundamental differences from past political movements against sexual discrimination. First, the former takes on the form of a voluntary mass movement. The MeToo movement began due to the female audience’s active acceptance of the major head slogan of anti-sexual violence movements, “It was not my fault.” The growing feminist awareness of sexual violence and problems that surged after 2015 allowed the women to accept the slogan with all their hearts and launch the movement. Secondly, as testimonies appeared subsequently, the violence was seen as a communal affliction, different from the past feminist movements. In the past, sexual violence victims faced suspicion and criticism as soon as they open up about their experiences and to prove their experiences, they went through individual trials in court. However, the MeToo movement was different. As the name “MeToo” itself signifies, the sexual assault victims’ cases were not perceived as discrete or separate, or cause to socially ostracize the victim. Instead, the Me Too movement allowed more opportunities for solidarity and collaboration.
Lastly, the MeToo movement does not involve victim identity politics that responds to the demand to prove the assault and adheres to victim centricism that claims that women are disadvantaged. Rather, the movement demands change in socially mandated male-hegemonic, heterosexual normative, authoritative communal culture and behavior status quo. In this presentation, we will look at the hints of possibilities of change demonstrated by the MeToo movement and whether these possibilities will be held back by the process of court and bureaucratic procedures. Sharing these concerns about possible challenges to these new changes, I plan to discuss how sexual assault could be politicized as a social phenomenon.

Kwonkim Hyeonyoung is a Guest Professor in the Korea National University of Arts, South Korea. She sees herself as a research activist. She is a guest professor at Korean National University of Arts. She is the co-author of Analyzing the Korean man , Feminism of perpetration and victimhood and author of Will never turn back again. She also co-wrote twenty books, including The Politics of the MeToo Movement . Her primary interest as a researcher lies on exploring ways how gender politics of violence and power plays in today’s Korean society. As an activist, she reads written judgments in court, attends hearings at trials, protests in streets, and writes.


Hyeonyoung Kwonkim
(Art and Gender Institute, Korea National University of Arts)

Jesook Song
(Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto)

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