[Photo] ‘Stop with the looks-based sexual harassment!’

Posted on : 2023-03-08 17:35 KST Modified on : 2023-03-08 17:35 KST
“What we ought to be controlling isn’t other people’s physical appearance, but the prejudice and abuse that result from the gender dichotomy,” one participant said
Activists with Gabjil 119, along with labor attorneys and legal professionals, hold a press conference on March 7, one day ahead of International Women’s Day, in central Seoul to condemn looks-based workplace harassment. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)
Activists with Gabjil 119, along with labor attorneys and legal professionals, hold a press conference on March 7, one day ahead of International Women’s Day, in central Seoul to condemn looks-based workplace harassment. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)

“You’re pretty for someone who hasn’t had any surgery done, and you’ve got a nice body. But why don’t you do something about your nose and your eyes?”

Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, labor attorneys and other lawyers joined members of the group Workplace Gabjil 119 at the entrance to the Financial Center in Seoul’s Jongno District on Tuesday afternoon in a press conference to denounce workplace sexual harassment based on physical appearance.

Jin Ga-yeong, a victim of such harassment, spoke during the conference about the treatment that she endured from a boss at her workplace over her physical appearance. After putting up with remarks for six months, she finally reported the supervisor to the company, which asked her to accept an apology and reconcile in exchange for being separated on a different floor from her harasser.

Just thinking about the supervisor left Jin feeling so distressed that her heart would race and she experienced trouble breathing. But the company insisted on papering over the matter, explaining that there were “lots of people who would have to be let go for the kind of thing you described.”

hose present at the press conference hold up signs with various phrases based on looks-based workplace harassment on them. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)
hose present at the press conference hold up signs with various phrases based on looks-based workplace harassment on them. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)

“Make a lettuce wrap and feed it to the chairman.”

“If I may give you some fatherly advice, you really need to drop some pounds.”

“You ought to wear a padded bra.”

“Why don’t you dance a little to cheer up the boss.”

These and other classic examples of the sexual harassment and unwanted remarks about physical appearance that are dumped on women in the workplace appeared on placards that were held by participants at the rally.

Next up was a presentation about the reality of the sexist remarks faced by working women in 2023 delivered by Kang Eun-hui, a member of Workplace Gabjil 119 and an attorney with the GongGam Human Rights Law Foundation.

Activists with Gabjil 119, along with labor attorneys and legal professionals, hold a press conference on March 7, one day ahead of International Women’s Day, in central Seoul to condemn looks-based workplace harassment. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)
Activists with Gabjil 119, along with labor attorneys and legal professionals, hold a press conference on March 7, one day ahead of International Women’s Day, in central Seoul to condemn looks-based workplace harassment. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)

Kim Han-ul, a member of the women’s issues subcommittee of the Association of Labor Attorneys for Realizing Workers’ Rights, called on people to tackle the issue.

“The more gender discrimination that occurs in an organization, the greater the tendency to judge and control everything about women — not only their physical appearance, but also their tone of voice, behavior, facial expressions and even their private lives,” said Yeo Su-jin, a labor attorney and a member of Workplace Gabjil 119,

“What we ought to be controlling isn’t other people’s physical appearance, but the prejudice and abuse that result from the gender dichotomy,” Yeo added.

After the press conference, the participants put on a symbolic performance in which they assembled a “Venus doll” using examples of unwanted remarks about physical appearance that have been reported to Workplace Gabjil 119.

Activists with Gabjil 119, along with labor attorneys and legal professionals, stage a protest performance of look-based workplace harassment by dressing a doll in stereotypes that women often face in the office. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)
Activists with Gabjil 119, along with labor attorneys and legal professionals, stage a protest performance of look-based workplace harassment by dressing a doll in stereotypes that women often face in the office. (Kim Bong-gyu/The Hankyoreh)

By Kim Bong-gyu, senior staff writer

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