When it comes to the entertainment business, women are marginalized. Heavily. If you look at popular polls and discussions of end of the year awards both informal and formal, you’re far more likely to find not just male nominees, but male winners. Examining the history of the Academy Awards shown in the infographic below, it’s easy to see that women are severely underrepresented even in the most prestigious of awards cycles. The male:female ratio is about 4:1 when it comes to overall nominations, and it’s probably even worse of a gap in co-ed categories.
The K-Entertainment universe is no different. K-Drama or K-Pop, females tend to be unacknowledged/underrepresented, or reduced to empty puppets for the dynamic male presence. But to say that women have made no progress is to put duct tape on the voices that have dared to become something. Rather than wallow in the misfortune of female marginalization, I’d rather see women in K-Drama have their own merits highlighted. Entertainment is one of the most dynamic sectors of society when it comes to social change; what consumers support and perpetuate by word and by cash will be reinforced by the companies and greater society. Therefore, the more we place attention on the men of K-Drama, the less women are going to be represented. When International fandom places emphasis on “beloved Oppa,” and the ever changing cycle of “It men,” no one should find it surprising that discussions and polls skew towards male. In fact, it was in this year’s Beanie Awards that the trend became clearer than ever:
- 80% of the best character nominees are male
- There’s a separate category for bromances, but not female friendships
- The “Frenemies” category is dominated by men
- 70% of breakout performance nominees are male
- 90% of wasted actors/actresses nominees are male
- Males are celebrated for being shirtless, have manes of glory, etc. while women lack similar treatment–except when it comes to a “mane of shame”
- “Powerful Character” nominees skew male
This however, is not a result of the wonderful ladies of Dramabeans attempting to underrepresent women. This is a product of the drama culture we live in, a drama culture that cares more about “Oppa” than “Unnie,” a culture that says female leads are merely supplementary characters/characters that only search for romance.
That they are pushovers.
Through this poll, we’re going to try change that kind of thinking; even if it’s just a little bit. The Women in K-Drama Awards attempts to celebrate women in K-Drama, from the production side to the characters themselves. We want to encourage discussion about female characters and actress have been meaningful to all of us; we want to spur the growth of a fandom for nuanced and vibrant characterizations of females. Women need not be strong, talented and rich all at once. All we want are women that are relatable, self-respecting, and commendable; women who are willing to love themselves as much as they love their families and significant others. We want women who want to talk about things other than men and have dreams and goals of their own.
We want real women on our screens.
And that’s why this poll exists.
(New York Film Academy, MBC, KBS, SBS, tVN, jTBC)