WARNING: Adult material (sexuality and homosexuality)
Please don’t read ANYTHING I say below out of context. Please read the whole article to get the gist of what I’m trying to say. At some points, I’ll go heavily into speculation, so bear with me on that. I’m just thinking “out loud” here.
This article is not a recommendation list. I mention these dramas to prove points in this article. Watch all things at your own risk.
Many of you know I’m fan of Korean (and some Taiwanese) dramas. On the whole, the evidence that South Korea is a primarily Christian nation shows in their TV. The dramas I watch tend to be BBC-type 16-20 episode stories – wholesome, modest and have basic Judaeo-Christian values. Creative, formulaic, and pleasant, they appeal to me much more than our overly sexualized, bad-language-ridden, or just immature American TV. I like live-action Korean dramas much more than anime even. It fits my personality and story style.
However, in the last couple years, I’ve been sorry to see the experimentation Korea – and Taiwan – are taking in gender fluidity. While out and out gay couples aren’t shown – as Korea, thankfully, has not accepted such things yet – I think it’s only a matter of time. 😦
The trend is “gender bending.”
It’s nothing new, really. We did it in the States – for KIDS – in Mulan. Japan’s done plenty of it. Matter of fact, there’s been a transgender individual in almost every Japanese show I’ve seen, which is why I don’t like live-action Japanese TV. Just about every time I watch what would normally be a family-friendly G-rated show, there’s a cross-dresser. They’re inundated with it over there in Japan.
It concerns me that I see it coming to Korea.
Gender-bending shows, like Coffee Prince, You’re Beautiful, Hana Kimi, and the latest, Taiwan’s Bromance, are fan favorites internationally. In all of these shows, heterosexual, beautiful girls dress up like boys and live or work among men due to various reasons. None of the reasons make a lot of sense, and all seem to be very contrived, but thus lies the problem in romantic comedy (rom-com) plots: got to create some unbelievable circumstances to force the couple to be together. In Coffee Prince, she needs a male-only job to make more money for her family. In You’re Beautiful, she has to sing in a male k-pop group in her miscreant brother’s place. In Hana Kimi, she infiltrates a boys’ only school to convince her idol to get back into track and field. And, in Bromance, a fortune teller told her parents she would have bad luck unless she pretended to be a guy until her 26th birthday. All pretty lousy reasons to fake masculinity, if I do say so myself. 😛
Can you tell which one is the female in each?
In almost all of these shows, with the exception of You’re Beautiful where he knows she’s a girl, one of the leading men in the story – Mr. Macho Masculinity himself – falls for our boy-girl not knowing she’s a girl. Mr. Leading Man is staunchly heterosexual, and is surrounded, usually, by a cast of other handsome males whom he has never had feelings for. His affection for the weakling, feminine-faced new guy (our cross-dressing girl) confuses the living daylights out of him. And, at some point, he has to accept “being gay,” or at least looking like it, in order to embrace his deep love for the girly-guy, who must exude some sort of strong feminine pheromone, even though the entire world can’t tell her gender.
Now, if you’re a straight male reading this, you’re cringing. I don’t know a single guy who’d say that his ideal love story involves falling for his best guy friend, whom he didn’t know was female. It insults men on every level. And the guys in the dramas are hurt. They’re hurt when they think they’re becoming gay over their bestie. They hurt when they found out how deeply she’s lied to them. They’re broken down, confused, and hung out to dry. It’s painful to watch. Yet they get back up and keep loving her.
This stuff hits women hard in the warm fuzzies.
And I started to think about why. I’m convinced there’s a much deeper spiritual longing going on here.
As “Occupiedterritories.tumblr” said, in a Coffee Prince exposé,“K-dramas depict love as an overwhelming totality so ecstatic that it transcends just about everything and approaches the realm of the metaphysical. Love transcends not just sexuality (which it embraces and folds into itself) but, more precisely, sexual identity (which it dissolves and makes moot).”
Because our male leads haven’t fallen in love with a woman. They haven’t fallen in love with a man. They’ve fallen in love with a genderless soul: what is assumed to be a person at their deepest core. Many of them swear off sex, because, as heterosexual men, the thought of sex with their “male” lover revolts them. Instead, there is a chasteness to the relationship that is rarely seen on TV (or in real life!) Except for a kiss or two, they bond on a much deeper level – one of friendship, camaraderie, and dedication.
A woman wants to think that, at her least attractive – even looking like a man – that her personality, her friendship, and her soul would be desirable enough to change a man’s sexuality. That he could get past anything to love her. That it’s not really about sex at all. That it’s not about her body at all. In a culture that tells you you have to be a certain cup-size, a woman wants to think that a man will love her if curves and a female reproductive system don’t exist at all. That he loves her deepest soul – a part of who she is that makes her unique, individual, and transcends her physical self.
Every woman’s dream.
Every human being’s dream really.
All of us are looking for a relationship, love, and passion that cannot be attained on earth. Even the hardest, coldest, bad boy needs to feel like he’s loved for who he is – even if that lover is him loving himself. We look for it in many, many places, but, most popularly, in other people.
Human beings are sinful. They’re selfish, physically-oriented, small-minded, and weak. We get sick, we die, we change our minds, we reject, we abuse, and we distort. We’re not telepathic and we see the world only through our own eyes. Our understanding of the spiritual worth of a human soul is limited at best. And, when we find out the ickiest and nastiest about people, it tends to turn us off from that person. People “fall out of love” every day, with divorce rates at its highest in the last decade. Bullying is impossible to avoid in most school and work settings. Finally, more and more, human beings are turning to experimenting sexually, with homosexuality being at its peak in the U.S., with experts guessing at around 10% of the population.
I want to say, firmly, that I stand with the Bible that homosexuality is a sin. It isn’t natural, it isn’t something you’re born with that you can’t choose to avoid, and it is wrong in God’s eyes, Biblically.
The gender-bender premise is dangerous. In an effort to spiritualize love, like we should be doing, we fall short when we take God-created gender out of the equation. Instead of being a squeal-worthy comedy-fest of true heterosexual love succeeding against the greatest of odds, gender-bender shows introduces dangerous new ideas, like:
Myth: Men don’t appreciate femininity. Women should shake off things that make them female, and should strive to be just like men. Androgyny is more attractive than embracing the way God made us.
I have had many guy friends in my life, yet I am one of the most girly people I know – all of my friends will tell you that. I’ve never upset a guy because I was girly. I truly think most think “viva la difference” between us. They like my perspective, and I value theirs. A girl once told me that my husband needed a tomboy girl – one that played basketball with him, didn’t wear makeup or jewelry, and stuck to blues, grays, and masculine clothing. He couldn’t possibly appreciate a pink-loving, girly-girl. Well, turns out, this is the same man who buys me new high heels every year, and likes seeing me in skirts, and long hair dyed pink. He said it would be pretty boring if I was just like him. No matter how you dress, your husband married a woman because he wanted a woman!
God created us to complement eachother. That’s “complement,” like being an opposite matching puzzle piece. I’m not sure if you’ve had close friends of the opposite gender – although you should have one if you’re married! The bond can be strong, coupled with the fact that hormones were created to get in there and add spice to the pot that doesn’t exist with same-sex friendships. It’s so easy to let your relationship with the opposite gender get too close and go too far. Why? Because we’re created to be close like that. We’re created to have ONE spouse, of the opposite gender, who complements, intrigues, attracts, and interests us.
I sure love my girl besties, but none of them will ever compare with the bond I can only achieve with one man. There’s just something about it. God created it.
Myth: Gender doesn’t matter.
People want to claim that gender and sexuality matters as much as a pair of shoes. Wear one pair today, toss ‘em and change to something else tomorrow.
But it seems that gender is intrinsic to our personality and soul – much more than human beings would like to admit. Even God identifies SOLELY as a He. Jesus was clearly born male, and He still sits at the right hand of God – male. And God the Father is inherently male. Father = male.
Once I heard someone wonder if we would be genderless in heaven. The concept sat very badly with me. Maybe I don’t have much of an imagination, but I can’t see how I’d still be RJ Conte in heaven without being female. Even if my heavenly body isn’t as physical as this one, I think that, if God is male, I will still be female. God could totally do something miraculous and create new genders or abolish them, but we see no precedence for this in Scripture. We see commands to embrace our maleness if we’re male, and our femininity if we’re female. We see different roles, different strengths, and even occasionally different commands for males and females, husbands and wives. We hear of dead people and angels referred to by gender.
I think we wonder about gender in heaven because there will be no marriage. I personally don’t think that means there won’t be gender. There’s no need for marriage, because intimacy in heaven will be complete. No sexual act with a spouse here on earth will compare to the spiritual – and perhaps physical, mental (telepathy, anyone?), and emotional intimacy we will have with God and other people in heaven. Marriage will seem like a cruder, less effective method of trying to bond with people. What about when you can know them completely in a new form? What about when every moment in God’s presence is pleasurable? Sex will be pointless. Can you imagine being intimate with God?
I think that’s the point of our pitiful attempts to create the perfect love story. It can’t compare to the love of God. He loves our very soul. He inhabits our body. He embraces and partakes with us of our emotions. He knows every single thought we’ve ever thought or will think. He doesn’t care what gender we are – His love is the same. He died for us. He is the ultimate author of passion. He is the ultimate lover. He fills you from the inside out. He defines your true worth.
There is no intimacy like being inhabited by Christ.
There is no intimacy like knowing the God of the universe and being known. Like being died for.
You’re just not ever going to find that in a human man. Even if you dress up like one.
RJ Conte writes about love and the Christian life for young adults. Her latest novel, a romantic suspense, will be released in February on Amazon.com