He Said/She Said: Is There a Double Standard for Sexiness in K-Pop?

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He Said – She Said is a special Soompi editorial that gives male and female perspectives on current topics and trends of the Korean entertainment world. 

For our first “He Said She Said” column last February, we discussed the recent trend of hyper-sexualized girl group concepts. As Soompiers offered their own opinion on whether these new girl group promotional tactics were actually sexy, more than a few asked about the sexy tactics of male idols and why they weren’t being scrutinized like the female idols. Which got this editor thinking: Why aren’t male idols criticized as much as female idols for their overly sexy promotional tactics? Are abs more socially acceptable than thighs? 

I started working with two of our writers, Hazelnutthursdays and Lordbordem, who had previously offered their female and male perspectives on the sexy girl groups in early March. Weeks later, we were still discussing this topic because it was a tricky one. We realized it wasn’t so simple as “Guys stripping is okay, girls stripping is not okay.” As we did research on different male groups with an emphasis on those “beastly idols,” we started to wonder if the double standard wasn’t as big as we had originally thought. Or, perhaps the double standard was so universally accepted that we couldn’t see it properly. 

We’re going to start off the discussion with our representative koala-fighter-turned-penguin-lover (I don’t know, this must be some sort of Australian thing), Lordbordem, who will offer his male perspective on sexy male idols. His excellently researched examples on shirt lifting and bathing suit wearing will make you question your own thoughts. Then, Hazelnutthursdays will take her turn talking about the problem may not be about the groups, but the audience receiving them. 

After reading through, we encourage you to leave your thoughts and questions below in the comments. 

Let’s start with Lordbordem and his answer to the question: Why aren’t male artists criticized for their equally sexualized promotions/songs?