It’s OK to Be Sensitive! (An F.A.D. Series for 16 Days of Activism)

Today, November 25, marks the global commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW). It’s a day declared by the United Nations, annually since 1999, to focus the world’s attention on the myriad ways that women and girls experience gender-based oppression. Marches and rallies take place in many cities, seeking to bring awareness of how violence against women and girls touches hundreds of millions of lives.

Many nonprofit organizations and NGOs around the world actually use IDEVAW as just the starting point for a 16-day awareness campaign that runs all the way through the United Nations’ annual Human Rights Day, which falls on December 10. These two-plus weeks are often called the “16 Days of Activism,” something that I first heard of several years ago when I worked for the outstanding Man Up Campaign, a New York City-based NGO which mobilizes men and boys to advocate for women and girls worldwide.

Orange is the traditional color for the 16 Days of Activism.

This year, I will attempt to post something brief on this blog daily for the 16 Days of Activism. I’ll be focusing on seasons one and two of a Korean-language web drama I recently stumbled upon, It’s OK to Be Sensitive! (Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve gotten sucked into K-dramas this year, and now it’s merging with my advocacy!) This particular web series is produced by TVN, a major South Korean media network that also puts out big television drama series, the kind that feature big-name stars and consume the evenings of millions of viewers for several months at a time. In typical web series fashion, it has fewer episodes (10 to 12 per season) than the usual K-drama, and each episode is much shorter, clocking in at around 10 minutes or so.

Finger hearts and thumbs up from the five leads of season one. L to R: Kim Young-dae (also seen in Extraordinary You) , Kim Ya-de (While You Were Sleeping), Lee Yoo-mi (Doctor John), Hong Seo-young (My Absolute Boyfriend), and Na Jong-chan (Spark).

Of course, I’m only talking here about It’s OK to Be Sensitive! because the series is all about common types of sexism, harassment, and assault that women experience. Each episode focuses on one type of oppression, giving the episode almost a PSA-type feel for that particular kind of misogyny. But both seasons one and two also tell larger stories, as characters deal with, and support each other through, uncomfortable and even dangerous situations.

And don’t worry, like any K-drama worth its salt, It’s OK to Be Sensitive! tells its serious stories while giving viewers romances to root for, some good K-pop songs, and plentiful humor.

Now, I only know a few Korean words, so if you’re like me, be sure to click the CC button on the YouTube videos to pull up English subtitles. The English translation isn’t always smooth, but even the occasional awkwardly-rendered captions are good enough that we can get what’s happening.

So here’s to 16 Days of Activism! We won’t get through all of seasons one and two of It’s OK to Be Sensitive! but I’ll select 16 of the strongest episodes to post here and offer comment on. And it starts right now with this short two-minute prologue, which introduces our five main characters to us, each a first-year college student:

An introduction to the first season of It’s OK to Be Sensitive! Be sure to turn on English captions using the CC button.

SPOILERS FOR THE ABOVE VIDEO BELOW!

We quickly meet the five main characters of season one. They’re all freshman students at the university, and they’re trying to decide whether to attend an event being thrown by some of the seniors at their school. The up side: it’s a huge social event! The down side: women who attend will be pressured to dress for the male gaze. Our Fab Five:

Chae-ah, described as the university business school’s unofficial resident activist for women’s equal rights
Ye-ji, who tends to conform to traditional Korean expectations of women
Ji-ho, who’s the little kid in a big kid’s body
Doh-wan, who seems aloof on the surface but is really “cute toward his crush”
Shin-hye, who will experience several types of misogyny during season one and will find her feminist voice through it

Tune in tomorrow for more! UPDATE: Here’s the next post in our 16 Days series!