The Crucible of Sexual Violence: Militarized Masculinities and the Abjection of Life in Post-Crisis, Neoliberal South Korea

Citation:

Park, Youme. 2016. “The Crucible of Sexual Violence: Militarized Masculinities and the Abjection of Life in Post-Crisis, Neoliberal South Korea.” Feminist Studies 42 (1): 17-40.

Author: Youme Park

Abstract:

This paper explores the ways the “civil” society of Post-Crisis, neoliberal South Korea is constituted by a type of militarized masculinity that normalizes and even legitimates sexual violence. When the movie version of the best selling novel, The Crucible, written by Gong, Ji-Young, was released in the fall of 2011, it created a public outcry against the case of sexual molestation of handicapped children by their teachers and school administrators. On September 24 of the same year, a sexual assault inflicted upon a female high school student by a US soldier ignited a mass protest against what many perceive to be an insult against Korea’s national sovereignty. By exploring these two moments of cultural crises, I argue that in a militarized society like South Korea, 1) violence is routinized and normalized (while exoticized and sensationalized at the same time) when it is imagined in sexual terms, 2) sexual violence is naturalized when it is folded into masculine and militarized power, 3) militarism justifies its absolute power to adjudicate who to kill and to let live by resorting to the idealized form of masculinity that is based on the conflation of brutality with immortality, and finally, 4) a public outrage against sexual brutality can be easily co-opted into the reformist rhetoric that argues for a more benevolent form of patriarchy or neocolonial domination unless such outrage is accompanied by a thorough rejection of domination (and brutality) as an idealized form of political power and life itself.

Topics: Civil Society, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Masculinism, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Militarization, Sexual Violence, Violence Countries: South Korea

Year: 2016

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