Meet the Fellows: 2018 Women’s Studies Fellow Jinsook Kim
The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies is the only national dissertation award for doctoral work on issues of women and gender. The 2018 Fellows include Jinsook Kim, a Ph.D. candidate in radio, television, and film at the University of Texas at Austin. The award will support Jinsook’s final year of dissertation writing, titled Contesting Hate: Online Misogyny and Anti-Hate Feminist Activism in South Korea.
Jinsook recalls a particular instance that sparked her dissertation topic:
As a feminist blogger, I posted opinion pieces about reinforcing gender stereotypes during the 2008 candlelight vigils protesting the U.S. beef importation into Korea. Some men did not respond favorably to my criticism of the gender dynamics that took place during the protest in which men tried to act as “protectors” of female protesters. Overnight, I received hundreds of malicious comments including images and threats of sexual abuse. This personal experience made me realize that cyberspace is not a utopian place; rather, it reflects unequal offline power relations. Despite this disheartening experience, I remain convinced that, despite it still being underground and isolated in a male-dominated society, women’s role on the Internet is growing in significance in the political realm. The use of new media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and online communities has facilitated networking and social activism for gender issues and women’s empowerment. These women’s political participation and struggles online left a deep impression on me and remains an important area of study for me. Thus my dissertation argues that online media represent a key battlefield for misogyny, one that is symptomatic of and at the same time serves to articulate the emergence of new feminist subjectivities, new strategies of misogynistic anti-feminist backlash, and the changing terrain of gender politics in South Korea.