IdolatorySelf-ReflectionToday I Learn

Sexism: Is it a Preference?

“Racists don’t think they are racists. When we try to tell them that what they do or say can be considered racist, some of them will be quick to defend believing and saying it’s just about preference. I thought it applied only to racists; I was wrong.”

I started this post with that caption I posted on my Instagram because I think it also applies to people who are sexist. But why did I decide to write about it here? Well, …

I guess I owe no apology…

The other day (it’s been a while now) I had this “discussion” with one of Lee Dong Wook fan accounts that I followed. They posted something about Lee Dong Wook co-stars and I commented that I want to see him co-star with Ha Ji Won and Jang Nara. You know that I really love these two Korean actresses, right? That’s why I felt a bit broken when back then Lee Dong Wook dated Suzy. Haha (You can read it here, by the way).

But they replied something like, “No, no more noona for Wookie. No more older actresses for Wookie.” Well, I forgot their exact words but the point was that they didn’t want Wookie to act or be paired with older actresses anymore.

But I was confused, like, why? I said that it doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship; they can be siblings or colleagues, or such. I just want to see them together. I mentioned Ha Ji Won and Jang Nara solely because I respect their beauty and acting skills. (You really must see Ha Ji Won in Secret Garden! It usually took me several movies and dramas to get impressed with a certain actress/actor, but it only took me one drama to be impressed with her! Jang Nara in Baby Faced Beauty is also great too! 🙂

By the way, I also pointed out that Ha Ji Won is only 3 years older and Jang Nara is only 1 year older than Wookie, and that it’s nothing compared to the 10-year age gap between Wookie and his current co-star. FYI, by the time this happened, Wookie was co-starring with Jo Bo Ah for the Tale of the Nine Tailed drama. Many people actually complained because they thought she was too young for Wookie. Just to make it clear: I myself had no problems with it. Both of them are adults. The characters they played are also grown up. And it’s fictional, too. They are professional people. So, really, I have nothing against their age gap whatsoever.

To my comment, they replied that it was okay if it’s not romantic relationship because Wookie had too many works with noona already. They proceeded to mention that maybe with Jang Nara is okay because she looks youthful like Wookie but maybe not Ha Ji Won. Am I wrong if I think they imply Jang Nara looks young and Ha Ji Won looks old? So they still revolved around age and looks. Unbelievable! I mean, both Ha Ji Won and Jang Nara still look gorgeous! Then they asked me if I was Ha Ji Won’s fan and said sorry if I was offended.

I said that I wasn’t offended. I said I just find it a bit sexist if people are okay with age gap when the men are older but they don’t feel okay when the women are older. I also mentioned that I don’t think Wookie has that many works with older actresses, at least to my knowledge because I’ve followed him since My Girl/2005. FYI: I needed to mention this because their previous posts seemed to be concerned about when someone started to love Wookie or how much fans knew about him. Personally I don’t think it matters much, though.

They said that they weren’t sexist and that it’s just a matter of preference. I said I don’t want him to be limited by fans’ preference and that we can agree to disagree. They said to not worry ’cause LDW doesn’t care about what fans say and won’t read their page either. (Can I laugh now?) LDW pays attention to what people say, that’s why he feels sad and overwhelmed when people who don’t even know him say bad things about him or hate him. But, well, (I didn’t say that, but) we can agree to disagree 🙂

The poll I made on Twitter…

But later, I found that they seemed upset and believed that I was judging them. What’s funny was suddenly there was another account with long comments asking me if I think they were sexist if they felt disgusted with a 50yo men paired with 25yo girl and asked me to reread their comment. I was confused because I believe I hadn’t exchanged any comments with this account, so which of their comment did they want me to REread if they had not commented on my comment before? I didn’t believe that they would gang up on me ’cause if it’s true, it would be despicable, right? So I thought that maybe they forgot to log out of their other account and forgot to login and use the same account that was exchanging comments with me, or maybe this other account was another account that somehow also commented in another section I didn’t know about, so I tried to explain what happened in what I believe a civil way, though it might sound firm (I love being nice, but I don’t like to ass-kiss or suck up to people sometimes). I added those smile emojis, said sorry, etc. too because I was genuinely trying to understand their points and I expected them to do the same. I said, “If you don’t like the way a 50yo guy paired with 25yo girl the same way you don’t like a 50yo woman paired with a 25yo guy, then no, you’re not sexist. But if you’re okay only when the men are older or vice versa, then it can be considered sexist.” Am I wrong? But guess what?

This account that originally exchanged comments with me made a new post saying there was a judgmental comment in the previous post. Their friend asked what happened, and they said I gave a long reply but they didn’t read it because it’s too long. Man, I was disappointed. Not that I expected a lot, but I still find it disappointing. So I commented on that new post, saying sorry if they don’t find my comment convenient and for giving a long reply, etc. I tried to re-explain in a shorter way, carefully, with all those sorry emojis, and smiley emojis and stuff. But guess what? They said they were disappointed because they thought we were friends, they didn’t expect a friend would judge them like that, and then they deleted my comment. I’m…

I mean, what kind of friend would tell everyone that their friend was judgmental when they were the one who didn’t even bother reading my explanation to understand my view or why I have that view? What kind of friend who used another account or asked another account or whatever – I don’t know why that account suddenly appeared – to “attack” me with their long comment, which I did read, and say I was judging them? What kind of friend who deleted my comments that I wrote with emojis and apologies? Tell me! If they thought we were really friends, they should’ve understood my points. Friends don’t just suck up to your ass, girl! Friends will tell you if they think you’re wrong, and friends learn and grow together. So much for being a friend, huh?

In my case, they don’t say I’m being sensitive. They say I’m judgmental. Well yes, I am. I judge people in my head all the time. But I filter my judgment if I’m to depict it in my actions or words.

I mean, it’s hard to deal with people who only want to be heard but are not willing to listen and not even willing to try, especially when you (foolishly) believe you can try to understand each other’s views. You might have your argument, even give some reference or resources to support it, and even try to explain carefully so you won’t be misunderstood and when they give you theirs, i.e. arguments, resources, etc, you do read them because you are genuinely trying to understand their view or why they have that view. But when you suspect or even find out that they don’t actually listen or read the resources you provide, somehow you feel kinda betrayed, ’cause you finally realize that the effort to understand each other is basically one-sided; it’s not mutual, it’s not even reciprocal. It’s like talking to a wall, you read the inscription on it and try to understand, but when u talk, nobody actually listens. U feel stupid about yourself thinking u should’ve known that it’s a wall, they wouldn’t even try to understand you. When I meet this kind of people, I am…well, actually I don’t expect much of them. I’ve learned to lower my expectation (doesn’t mean I look down on u, though, just so u don’t misinterpret or spin my words any way u like), but sometimes I still find it disappointing.

I mean, I said IF; it’s an IF. “If you’re okay only when the men are older or vice versa, then it can be considered sexist.” If you’re okay with both or not okay with both, why feel judged? I don’t get why some people get offended so quickly when it’s actually just an IF. Like, if u don’t think it applies to u, then it should be fine, right? But saying I was judgmental… Look, let me tell you one irony in life: When you say someone is judgmental, you’re actually being judgmental yourself. This applies to everyone, I make no exception. If you feel judged, however, it doesn’t mean that person is judgmental. It could very well mean that what they say is true but you just don’t like the truth and don’t want to admit it. But I get it, some people have a big ego, myself included. And learning is sometimes painful; i.e. sometimes u need to know that u actually are wrong to learn the right way. But some people, instead of acknowledging their mistakes n apologize, they would make excuses n think it’s ok because others make the same mistake. Because, well, some people hate to be wrong.

But, gosh, I was really pissed. I am pissed because every time I see Lee Dong Wook, it doesn’t feel the same anymore. Every time I see Lee Dong Wook, I’m reminded of this painful memory. I am pissed because I love Lee Dong Wook so much and I’ve loved him ever since before I knew this account. And they made me feel this way? I knew everyone has the right to love and fangirl over him. But to think I share the fandom with that kind of person? Gosh, I really want to leave. Well, girl, if more people leave Lee Dong Wook or start to dislike Lee Dong Wook, please know that it’s not necessarily because they hate Lee Dong Wook. It can possibly be because of fans like you. Their leaving the fandom is on you. And no, it doesn’t mean they aren’t true fans, not at all. They just want some peace of mind, which they deserve.

And, gosh, I really hope one day Lee Dong Wook has a project together either with Ha Ji Won or Jang Nara. I really want to know if this fan is going to go fluffy kissing ass pretending to ship or love their work or whatever. (I’m pissed, so excuse my language). I want it to happen because it must be painful and awful to be someone you hate. I mean, there’s this one time they opened QnA session and I asked which movie/drama of Wookie they would recommend to someone who’s skeptical about Wookie’s acting skills. And they said none. They said fans that were skeptical about his acting skills weren’t true fans. They said there was this fan who hated/criticized Wookie when he was starring in Life drama, but then they complimented Wookie in Stangers from Hell. They thought this fan was fake. FYI: I once wrote about Life drama before: here. And, Life drama happened in 2018 while Strangers from Hell was in 2019 after Touch Your Heart. At that time I kinda disagreed actually but I said nothing because I respected them and I didn’t want any argument. But after what they said and did? Let me give a piece of my honest thought on that: It’s normal for people to be skeptical about one’s acting skills. If they didn’t like Wookie in Life but fell head over heels with him in Stranger from Hells, it’s valid, it doesn’t mean they’re fake. It doesn’t mean they aren’t true fans. There are also people who didn’t like Wookie before but then came to like him after Goblin. Are they not true fans? Are they fake? Who are we to decide if someone is a true fan or a fake one? We’re just fans! There’s no such thing as superior fans or better fans. Knowing Wookie earlier, longer, or more doesn’t make you a superior fan. Buying more Wookie’s merchandise, coming more to his FMs doesn’t make you a better fan. Besides, people grow. People change. If someone didn’t like him back then or when he stars in a romcom but then likes him later or when he stars in a psycho drama, that’s perfectly fine. Now if you want to know what preference is, my friend, that’s one of the best examples. One might prefer phsycho drama to romcom or slice of life genre. But being okay with the age gap only when the men are older but not when the women are older is not preference, it’s sexist! If you think it’s a preference, at least admit that your preference is (a bit) sexist! But, well, what do you expect from someone who thinks they know Wookie really well and are often bitter about Wookie or his work not getting an award? 🙃

I posted the same pics I posted on my Instagram poll.

But, ok, I’m partly at fault. I shouldn’t have discussed serious social issues in the fandom. Some people just want to fangirl in peace. I get it. Sorry. But gosh, pardon me, I can’t help but compare this experience to my experience in Japanese fandom. They all are really learning beyond the fandom. When there is Black Lives Matter movement, for example, people do speak up about it, we educate each other. Even when one of the idols that we loved made a mistake by saying every life matters, they didn’t hesitate to call him out. Because yes, we agree that all lives matter, but it can’t be all if black doesn’t count. Well, there was a heated argument, though, but it’s more because some fans think some are too harsh in trying to educate the idol, and some think others are too soft in trying to educate a grown-up idol. But we don’t blindly worship the idols. We agree that while fangirling, we can also learn from each other about social issues and beyond and grow together. I really love that fandom (Yes, guys, I love you!) 🙂 Well, I’m not saying that everyone in my Japanese fandom is a good person, no. There are few bad apples too. However, in general, they are great. My experience there is amazing 🙂

And I actually asked them about sexism too. I mean, I made a poll about it, about whether it is sexist or not, or if it’s just preference. We even discussed it in the replies, saying that it’s understandable if some people think it’s not sexist because it’s been strongly rooted in the society especially within the patriarchy. People think it’s just preference and normal because it’s just the “norm” in society. Like, women are expected to give birth, they won’t produce as many eggs as they grow older while men can still produce sperms no matter how old they get, men are seen as more mature and trusted with work, etc, which might be why people think it’s okay if the men are older but not okay if the women are older. But if you think of it, it’s actually not fair. For example, women get badmouthed when they date or marry a younger guy, but men are praised when they marry a younger girl. Or maybe the opposite in some other places. But we can unlearn this if we want to. And in my Japanese fandom, we can really have a healthy discussion on this issue.

Going back to my quote in the beginning of this post: “Racists don’t think they are racists. When we try to tell them that what they do or say can be considered racist, some of them will be quick to defend believing and saying it’s just about preference.” And believe me, sexist people are like that, too. They don’t think they are sexist. They believe it’s just a preference, and I understand why, no judging. But at least, when someone tries to call them out and educate them on that, instead of judging that person as judgmental, they should’ve really thought and learned more about it.

Honestly, I don’t know what else they say or post afterward ’cause I asked them to remove me from their follower list if they’re not comfortable with me following them. Besides, I need my peace of mind. And they might need it too. If they want only followers that suck up to them and only comments that agree with their views, I’ll just let them live in their own bubble. But gosh, one day when they realize that they’re wrong, I hope that they won’t feel so bad about it. I know that the feelings of guilt are not nice. And the pill called truth is sometimes hard to swallow…

PS: Sorry if I somewhat sound harsh. When I’m pissed, sometimes I have no mercy. Also, some people simply don’t deserve me being nice to them.

PPS: Actually I managed to make a poll both on Instagram and Twitter. I took Hajiwon’s pic and Wookie’s pic from their official accounts (@/leedongwook_official and @/hajiwon1023, both were taken in May this year. Then I asked if she looked older than him. Well, honestly, I don’t really care about the results. Like, even if the poll resulted in with everyone 100% voting for her to look older than him, my stance will remain the same: I still want Wookie to co-star with her. But guess what? More people actually don’t think she looks older than him. Some even say that they look about the same age. Hence, their reason about not wanting Ha Ji Won because she’s a noona or because she looks older is somehow not supported, well, at least in my world, not sure about their bubble, though…

PPPS: Actually I feel stupid for having this kind of argument with someone I don’t even know in person. I mean, I just want to love Lee Dong Wook in peace. Maybe I should go back to fangirling on my own and disconnect myself from other fans. Sigh…

PPPPS: Actually, the other day, some time after that incident, I read that Lee Dong Wook is in talks to star in a romance film with Lim/Im Soo Jung, an actress from the same agency as his. He once became a cameo in her drama. So I checked this girl out. And guess what? She was actually older than Wookie. Hahaha I mean, I have no problems, of course. If anything, I’m happy. But gosh, imagine being someone who doesn’t want Wookie to act with older actresses anymore just to have and see him act with another older actress, AND in a ROMANCE film. Karma comes too fast in my favor, mon ami.

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