A World Without Men: Inside South Korea’s 4B Movement

Did you ever have a moment where you realized you couldn’t take dating men anymore? Many women have. Years of articles about dating burnout prove it. In Korea, a movement that goes beyond dating burnout is starting to pop up. The 4B Movement took off, changed the country’s dating scene, and is beginning to hit America, too.

So, what is 4B? And why are so many women fascinated by it? This movement is shocking the world for all the right reasons.

A Misogynistic Society

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South Korea is a fairly traditional country that has a severe misogyny problem. Along with painfully high beauty standards, women often are subjected to discrimination, domestic violence, and predatory behavior. Studies suggest that the number of crimes against women in Korea is on the rise.

In other words, Korean women face a lot of inequality. They are judged at every twist and turn. Men who hurt them have little to fear, as both the law and society tend to be on their side.

Marriage As A Jail Sentence

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The pressure for women to marry is sky-high in Korea, though marriage doesn’t serve them. A study revealed that 34.1 percent of Korean wives experience domestic violence in their marriage. Women from abroad are also not immune. 42 percent of foreign women who marry Korean men experience domestic abuse as well.

Because of the heavy stigma that comes with divorce, most women wouldn’t dare try it. Women who decide to break up with boyfriends over domestic violence are often encouraged to do “safe breakups” in public. Why? They fear being beaten.

The Revolt

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There’s a certain point where it’s hard to ignore how much foul treatment you’re dealing with. The women in Korea reached that point. A revolt happened where women began to demand better pay, better treatment, and more protection from the men who claim to “love them.”

Thus, the revolt began.

Escape The Corset

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The 4B Movement didn’t start out of the blue. It had a predecessor named “Escape the Corset,” a primarily online-based protest decrying the exceedingly high beauty standards in Korea. (Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world, with 46 percent of all female college students getting at least one procedure.)

The radical movement began to point out how much work women in Korea do to keep pretty, but quickly turned into a battle cry against misogyny. It urged women to boycott beauty products, reject pressure to get plastic surgery, and also shave off hair as a way to raise their fingers to the status quo.

Flaunting What You Don’t Have

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The impact was massive, despite “Escape the Corset” being a fairly fringe radical feminist movement. Seeing women proudly shave their heads online made people question what their values were and why. It got people talking.

The 4B Movement took a cue from this protest and started using social media to spread the word. It quickly became known as a sister movement, albeit a much more popular one.

The 4B Movement Explained

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4B stands for four principles of the movement, all of which start with a “B” sound in Korean. Korean women who are in the 4B Movement all choose to avoid the four ‘B’s,” which are dating men (biyeonae), intercourse with men (bisekseu), no marriage (bihon), and no child-rearing (bichulsan). In other words, these are women who are using singledom as a form of protest.

Rather than cater to men by being wives and mothers, they are choosing to decenter them. Instead of a man-focused life, these women choose to invest in their careers and hang out with other women.

A Major Impact

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For much of Korea’s existence, the nation’s women married “because that’s what you do.” 4B started to make women question that trend, much like what’s going on in America with child-rearing. Of course, there’s also the impact of seeing women consciously choose to abstain from relationships with men altogether as a result of male behavior.

4B became just as much a protest as it is a way of life. Decentering men is the core concept of the 4B Movement. It’s one of the most effective ways to harm misogynists that abuse the women they date, marry, and have kids with.

Going Stateside

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With the fall of Roe v. Wade, the rights women have to their own bodies and medical privacy practically evaporated overnight. Women throughout the United States are noticing gender inequality, double standards, and the overall loss that comes with trying to date in a cesspool.

As women’s rights erode, more and more women are taking a cue from Korea’s 4B movement. Some women have already walked away from men due to dating burnout and trauma. Now, there’s a political movement starting to erupt in radical feminist circles.

Politicians And Men Take Note

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Few things will put a wrench in society, as much as a large percentage of women who no longer want to interact with men. South Korea’s birth rates are already notoriously low. America’s birth rate has started to drop, too.

The 4B movement could easily make it hard for countries to replace their current population. This could have serious economic and political ramifications over the next few decades. And men? Not too many men will be happy realizing their dating prospects are limited as a result of the behavior of other men.

In other words, these women are forcing politicians and men to listen.

Beyond 4B: 6B4T

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4B is a fairly radical movement, especially in a country as conservative as South Korea. Some women are taking it even further with 6B:4T. 6B stands for six “no’s,” which are the original four B’s plus two more. The new two include not buying sexist products (bisobi) and supporting fellow protestors (bidopbi).

The movement also includes four T’s, which are primarily focused on the lookism harming women. The four T’s are rejecting strict beauty standards (talkoreuset), rejecting sexualized depictions of women in otaku culture (tarotaku), rejecting religion (taljonggyo), and rejecting pop idol culture (taraidol).

Why 4T?

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The four T’s in 6B:4T are often abided by 4B protesters as well as their more radical counterparts. The reason why is simple: many of the parts of mainstream culture encourage women to accept poor treatment. For example, religion can be weaponized to dissuade battered women from divorcing.

On a similar note, dealing with otaku culture and the hypersexualization of women can make women insecure. It also is incredibly demeaning. If enough protests happen, it will force society to rethink how they present women.

Here To Stay?

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The future of 4B seems to be pretty up in the air, however it’s clear that it was a necessary movement. South Korea’s women seem to be pretty happy with the movement and the effects it’s having. For many women, being single has turned into a badge of honor and a source of peace.

Whether it stays as “4B” or just turns into a matter of personal choice remains to be seen.

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