It never ceases to amaze me that in my time of need I happen upon perfect opportunities just by chance. Today, I have to sincerely thank my beloved K-pop fansister/dongsaeng for today’s article, and what an article it is. Girl pop group Girl’s Day just recently released a song titled Female President that encourages girl power and other such sentiments, a noble goal, especially in an industry so inundated with traditional gender roles. However, there’s much arguing about whether or not this is in fact what Girl’s Day is promoting. I went into this song completely blind, so I’ll allow you, readers, the same kindness.
Honestly, I can see what they were trying to go for, but overall I cannot say that I feel particularly empowered by this song or that the general principle of the song is empowering. The entire message of the song is: girls, if you like a boy, it’s totally cool to kiss him first and take a more dominant role in the relationship. It’s a small step, the idea of breaking free of traditional gender roles in relationships is an important idea to present to the youth listening to this song. But, outside of the lyrics, I don’t believe Girl’s Day does anywhere near a good enough job of reinforcing this thought process. This sentiment has nothing to do with their outfits in the video—which aren’t to my tastes, but they aren’t any big thing—it has to do completely with the way the video is shot.
Most importantly, and most bizarrely, there are no actual males in this video. Trust me, they’re not trying to be progressive in a non-heteronormative front simply because it wouldn’t sell to a wider audience. So for a video that’s trying to promote the idea of taking charge in a relationship, why wouldn’t they have any males for the girls to be taking charge with? I think that the fact that the only “male” in this video is portrayed by a girl reveals the answer all too clearly: despite whatever intentions Girl’s Day had when writing the song, the end product is just another male fantasy. There’s no actual male because 1), it would cause problems for the male fans to see their favorite girls act that way with a real dude, and 2), the video isn’t really about females taking control, but the illusion of taking control.
Does this count as partial queerbating too, or…?
Think of it as a video about one of the many tough girl tropes. This girl likes to be in control, do what she wants, but at the end of the day she’s still fawning over that dude and her strength evaporates because ‘the man’ has finally come into her life. There is no man in the video because it would be difficult to pretend that a guy could still reach the squishy-sweet submissive center of the tough girl if she was acting so dominant towards a real guy. By acting out this power fantasy with another woman, it still leaves it in the realms of fantasy for male viewers.
A bigger problem than that, however, is how the video is shot as a whole. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here, I 110% believe that women should be able to dress however they want. Period. But when the first shot of the video is someone presumably stripping, and re-creating Flashdance behind a screen, it really makes me question the whole “empowerment” thing. Again, there’s nothing wrong with strippers or anything like that, but everything from the camera angles to the dance moves screams “male gaze.” In the end, the video is still made for the men watching it rather than the girls that are supposed to be empowered by it.
Also, for those who didn’t know, South Korea did elect their first female president, Geun-Hye Park, in February of this year. So there is an actual basis for this song. I really do think it’s great that an all-girl band wants to take an amazing event and further empower the female youth of their country to step up and realize that they can be just as powerful as any man. However, I wish that the song could have just been a general ‘girl power’ song rather than being about kissing boys.
If you only listen to the song, I think it’s fine for the most part: the hook is catchy as hell and while the lyrics don’t aspire to any great heights, it’s a start. The video is where it truly begins to fall apart in my eyes, as it seems to become more about the dudes than the ladies.