Offensive gestures in South Korea - ANU Korea Institute Seminar on 10 March 2023

  • Hand gestrue

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

This presentation combines approaches from multimodal discourse analysis, gesture studies and impoliteness research to analyse how a common hand shape was constructed as an offensive gesture in South Korea in 2021 and became a locus for anti-feminist discourse. The hand movement in question is a ‘precision grip’ gesture whereby the thumb and index finger are pursed together to represent holding a small object. This gesture was perceived by some as mocking men for the size of their genitals, and became a controversial emblem associated with misandry (i.e., man hating).

Dr Brown’s gestural analysis shows that men constructed their offensive stances around a large swathe of handshapes, not all of which were actually precision grip gestures. Nonetheless, the conservative media ratified men’s claims that the images were intentional and represented misandry. The results speak to the discursive nature of impoliteness and advances our understanding of ‘taking offense’ as a social action in populist, multimodal and post-digital discourses.

SPEAKER: Dr Lucien Brown  Korea Foundation Associate Professor in Korean Studies School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics Monash University 

VENUE: McDonald Room, Menzies Library, ANU

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