South Korean radical feminists have been kicking ass in the last few years, with movements like “Take off the Corset” that sees them rejecting cosmetics and strict South Korean beauty norms in droves; organizing massive protests against the depravity of male voyeurism via webcams stashed in bathrooms and hotel rooms; and creating their own female-exclusive spaces online and in the real world.
But one of the most radical and seemingly-harsh movements to emerge from South Korea is the 4B or “4 Nos” movement: no dating men, no having sex with men, no marrying men, and no having children for men. It is essentially deciding to excise men from their lives, at least in the romantic sense. “You and your patriarchal bros are going to treat us like shit and keep oppressing us?” the movement seems to say. “Fine. Then the pussy is completely off-limits. Have fun jerking off into that crusty old sock.”
It’s not the first time women have banded together to issue a sex ban. The Greek comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes comes to mind, probably one of the earliest examples in literature of women “withholding” sex to persuade men to change their behavior. More recently in 2003 during the second Liberian civil war, the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace encouraged its members to stop having sex with their male partners in order to end the fighting. (And it worked! Within months, the two warring sides were engaged in peace talks.)
However, there’s little to no evidence that this movement has led to South Korean men changing their behavior. In fact, hatred of the feminist movement only seems to be ramping up, with men throwing a hissy fit online over the “pinching-gesture” emoji used by radical feminists to indicate, shall we say, that anti-feminist men are lacking in certain areas.
But getting men to change their behavior towards women is only one potential positive outcome of the 4B movement. Even if they don’t, it still leads women to cut themselves off from the people most likely to harm them; it means women center themselves and other women in their lives instead of men, who too often demand (either explicitly or implicitly) that women cater to their needs and desires. So, for women who have been taught that getting married and having children should be their number one goal in life, the ultimate fulfillment of the role assigned to them, saying no to that, vocally and in significant numbers, is one of the most radical things feminists can do.
So is it time for women in the west to follow their lead?
It may already be happening. Birth rates in North America and Europe have declined, mimicking similar trends in Asian countries, including South Korea. The most popular dating apps are skewed heavily male, showing that women aren’t exactly falling all over themselves to date men. Women are more inclined to pursue a college degree and/or a high-paying career than a wedding ring. And despite the sex-positivity movement touted by liberal feminists, millennials and gen-Zs are two of the most sexless generations in recent history.
So while there may not be a formal movement in the west at the moment, these numbers seem to indicate a growing trend of women taking a good look at what men have to offer and opting out.
Yet, outside of the radical feminist movement, western society still seems to expect women to follow the prescribed life script of “get married, have children.” If remaining single and child free is not exactly discouraged, getting married to a man and having his children is still actively encouraged. Announcements of engagements and pregnancies are met with celebration and delight instead of horror and disgusted outrage. (“You’re getting married to a man? Ugh, why?”)
If women of the younger generations aren’t getting married in the same numbers as the generations before them, there is still pressure to become some man’s "forever girlfriend" and find a partner of some kind. Women are still conditioned from girlhood to cater to men’s expectations and needs. And, more recently, there has been article after hand-wringing article about the plunging birth rates (inevitably written by men.) Very few articles outside of feminist spaces have been written pointing out that declining birth rates mean women have more autonomy. Which is supposed to be a good thing in our “equal” societies—right?
But for a long time now, and especially in more recent years, the cracks in our "equal" society have begun to show. While the west has made strides in rights and opportunities for women, this only serves to mask the rampant misogyny that is simmering under the surface. Women’s rights to bodily autonomy are once again under attack in the United States thanks to the restrictive Texas abortion law that was passed. The gender identity movement has contributed to the overall erasure of women and their voices, gender critical women and radfems being demonized and deplatformed for speaking up. For all the talk of “gender equality” in the west, the power structure still skews heavily male and it gets harder and harder to ignore. So where does that lead us?
In order to enact radical change, radical action is needed. And that means addressing the harsh reality: women will never be liberated unless we stop helping our oppressors. And it’s difficult because our lives are so intertwined with them. For many women, men are the people they are attracted to and romantically-inclined towards. These are the people they start families with.
But these are also the people who abuse us. These are the people who rape and murder and torture and belittle and demean and degrade and objectify and harass us. These are the people who masturbate to women’s suffering, who cheer on the destruction of our rights. Is it really worth sorting through this pile of human detritus for the so-called “decent” ones? The ones who may not hit or slap, but still jerk off to porn because they "need" it? Those who may be vaguely supportive of “equal rights” but will never lift a finger to aid women in their fight for liberation? At the end of the day, do we really need these clowns?
There’s a possibility a massive resistance movement like a 4B movement would lead to women being subjected to an increase in violence from men. But what’s the alternative? Hoping that if we’re nice enough, that if we say “pretty please” when asking for our rights not to be taken away, we won’t get hurt? It sounds a lot like what people say to women who are married to domestic abusers. “Don’t do anything that would make him angry, don’t provoke him and he won’t have any reason to hit you.” Is that the kind of world we really want to live in? Do we really want to maintain the status quo just because we’re afraid that men will become even more violent towards us? They already are. And us allowing them into our lives and into our spaces only gives them more opportunity to harm us.
So I think it’s time to say no. Firmly and unequivocally. No, I am not going to date a member of the oppressor class. I am not going to marry one. I am not going to bear his children and offer up even more victims to a society where one sex is treated as second-class by the other. No, I am not doing that. And I will not do that until every single woman and girl on this planet has been liberated.
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