Miss A, Presenting a Realistic Look at Female Independence

We’ve all heard those ‘girl power’ anthems calling for women to stand strong and tall without help from men. Destiny’s Child Independent Woman is the perfect repsentation of this strong and feisty mesage.

It seems the lovely ladies from Miss A have released their own anthem ‘I Don’t Need a Man’

I have to say this is a welcome change and much needed message in Korean society. As an outsider looking in, it seems women are somewhat reliant on men. The patriarchal nature of the society places men in a higher position and this is reflected in pop culture.

Thinking particularly of dramas and movies, how many times have we seen a poor down trodden /unhappy woman being saved by a man. This rescuing can either be financial or by the main ending point marriage. It seems that once she has achieved this, her life is complete and they can ride off in to the sunshine together.

Couple that with the endless need for perfection. Idols/celebrities are presented as the perfect ideal and many people want to look and act like them. With the normality of plastic surgery it seems that you can create success by getting the ‘right face’.

Furthermore the message to women is that they need to look attractive physically in order to attract a rich man (who preferably works at a Chaebol) and then get married. Her role is then to be a housewife looking after the children and going shopping for all the finer things in life using her husbands credit card.

However, Miss A present an alternative and realistic message.

In Destiny’s Child song it is very clear that they were talking about achieving a high level of income and status.

They are the type of women who can afford the large purchases in life (a home, expensive cars). They are also likely to be senior level managers or own their own large businesses allowing them the luxury items in life. Their message seems to be aimed at a more mature audience, women in their 30’s who have settled in their lives and in their careers. Furthermore they don’t need a man, nor do they want one. Case in point:

“Only ring your celly when I’m feeling lonely
When it’s all over please get and up leave”

For them, the man serves the purpose of giving them pleasure and company for a short while. They do not want a relationship or any other kind of commitment and are happy to be by themselves.

In contrast, Miss A present the kind of message that I as a young woman can relate to.

In their song, they speak of being able to pay for the basics of survival (food, rent, bills etc).

Wait; why no message on getting some bling?

This doesn’t resonate with their audience, young women leaving university and who are trying to make their way in the world without relying on others.

What I especially love about this song is the reality that they bring to it. They mention that they are struggling with the early starts but if it means they can do their own thing then it is worth it:

“I wake up early every morning
And I’m busy all day
I don’t even eat a proper meal
But I do this because I like it”

This girl isn’t living in a fantasy world and is probably working an average job. But to her this is part of working to build her own future.

Furthermore they acknowledge that although they are not earning as much money as others or their potential lover they are proud of themselves for making the sacrifice.

Linking the idea of the respect of elders, especially parents they make mention to the fact they do not want to be a burden to their parents who have probably sacrificed a lot for them. In order to say thank you they also regularly give their parents money.

Unlike Destiny’s Child, the girls aren’t against having men in their lives. They want to approached in the right way. They provide advise to their potential lover:

“Being cocky won’t work with me
I don’t know about anywhere else
I may not be as well off as you but
I overflow with confidence
That’s why I love myself”

The video is also great, with Suzy donning her best finger moustache and the sly commentary on certain elements in society. Take for instance the scene with the father handing over his credit card to his daughter to pay for her clothes, or the scene in the nightclub with all the girls fawning over the guys. This is linked to special clubs created for women to meet rich men. The girls aren’t over dressed or under dressed, they look comfortable and sexy in a natural way.

Interestingly the song was written by J.Y Park (producer and head JYP label). He said he wrote the song becasue he wanted something that all the girls would be able to sing and relate to.

So does this change my opinion of it being a great song? Well no.

Doesn’t matter if it was written by a man, woman, child or a rabbit. What matters is that this message is going out.

Their fans are their target audience and if they can provide motivation and make them feel that they can do their own thing and live an independent life then I am all for it. The message of this song is something that every woman should and can aspire to.

Of course you could be cynical and say well they are K-pop idols so they are feeding into the whole unrealistic image of perfection. However I have always seen Miss A as down to earth and smart.

Besides they always comes across as being the kind of girls I could see myself hanging out with.

Then again this is K-pop and the façade can be false.

Furthermore, it also begs the question of how Miss A can speak about being independent when they are not. They are tiold by their management what to eat, what to wear, what to do, how to speak and act. But then again the counterargument could be that although they are ‘under control’ they are women making a living and earning it through their sweat and tears.

All in all this song is very much needed. Not only is it a great song to listen and dance to. It offers something that a large majority of K-pop songs have lost, meaning.

You may not be able to afford the Gucci bags or the Ferrari but if you can pay your own rent, buy your own clothes and support yourself then that is truly a greater form of independence.

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