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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Aug. 2)

All News 07:40 August 02, 2021

Misogynistic attacks on archer
Korean society should not tolerate hate speech

South Korean archer An San deserves praise for winning three gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics. The 20-year-old athlete has become the first archer ever to snatch three gold at a single Olympics, and emerged as the country's first triple gold medalist at a Summer Olympic Games.

Congratulation on her outstanding performance! Her Olympic success was attributed to her concentrating to the best of her ability. She showed her can-do spirit to the world, helping Korean archery prove itself as the world's best. It is not just her personal honor, but also an opportunity for the country to raise its national prestige in sports.

An's achievement is all the more meaningful because she has made it despite misogynistic attacks made against her. Regrettably, she has become the target of online abuse from certain men since she grabbed her second gold in the women's team event July 25. Some male internet users flooded her social media account with hate speech. They called her a "feminist" because of her short hair, attendance at a women's university and past use of online slang with "anti-male undertones."

Even worse, the online attackers demanded the Korea Archery Association strip An of her Olympic titles, while calling for her to apologize. However, it is fortunate that women and lawmakers have come out in support of An, condemning the misogynistic comments made about her. Many women posted photos showing their own short hair on social media, and messages encouraging her.

It is nonsense to argue that a woman is a feminist only based on her appearance. More worrisome is that the male attackers have a wrong perception about a feminist and feminism. A feminist is an activist advocating equal gender rights. Therefore anyone standing up for feminism should not be subjected to hate speech, but applause and encouragement.

In this sense, the male netizens' online abuse of An could be seen as no less than a hate crime against women. The authorities and civic society should not tolerate such hate speech. We also have to consider the harsh socioeconomic and political conditions which have made young adults, particularly men, feel frustrated about a lack of job opportunities.

Some experts point out that such conditions have led the young generation to vent out their pent-up anger in the form of animosity against the opposite sex. It is urgent to work out comprehensive measures to prevent such a gender conflict from turning into a more serious social conflict. If we fail to do this, South Korea, the world's 12th-largest economy, will not have a bright future. An's case should serve as a wake-up call to address the problem.
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