In the recently published book “Beyond the Story: 10 Year Record of BTS,” BTS‘s leader RM reflects on the journey the group has taken from their debut to their phenomenal success. In particular, he opens up about the controversies the group faced and the lessons learned, with the alleged “misogyny” controversy marking a significant turning point for them.
RM details how the controversy unfolded when BTS started gaining success, with critics accusing the group of promoting misogynistic views through some of their lyrics. Raised in the world of hip-hop, RM acknowledges that the members initially perceived these misogynistic elements as genre characteristics, only to learn about the concept of misogyny and its implications later on.
“I can talk about it. Looking back on it now, I think it was something I needed to go through,” he reflects, demonstrating his willingness to address this part of BTS’s history openly.
RM recognizes that the backlash they received was, in part, a reflection of the societal discourse on gender inequality. He recalls the events around the time of the Gangnam Station murder and its profound influence on their understanding of the importance of gender sensitivity, as well as how vital it is to speak out against inequality.
A friend’s words left a lasting impression on RM, imparting him the idea that emphasizing inequality is sometimes the necessary course of action to achieve true equality. This poignant realization is what led BTS to reassess their views and made significant changes.
Someone I know said, if you call a situation of equality “0,” and the world’s injustice is at as much as “+10,” then those experiencing injustice have no choice but to emphasize not “0,” but “–10” in order to achieve equality. Those words really hit home for me.
— BTS’s RM
Recognizing the importance of understanding societal prejudices and avoiding defining women’s value from a male perspective, BTS and their label, Big Hit Entertainment, publicly addressed the controversy in July 2016. They declared that they had understood that “music creation is not free from societal prejudice and fallacies.”
From then on, gender sensitivity training became a mandatory part of the preparation process for all HYBE artists before their debut. The changes BTS underwent and the steps they took following the controversy were crucial in their growth, according to the group’s leader.
If it wasn’t for that process, we wouldn’t have made it this far.
— BTS’s RM
Through the book, RM illustrates how a controversy can serve as a catalyst for change, transforming an entire industry’s approach to gender sensitivity. This look into BTS’s journey sheds light on the hard-won wisdom that has driven the group to use their music as a platform for positivity and equality.