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S. Korean broadcaster faces backlash for editing ‘women’ out of Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar speech

Michelle Yeoh
via ABC

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    South Korean broadcaster SBS News is facing backlash for editing Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar acceptance speech.

    Yeoh, the Malaysian actress who became the first Asian woman to win Best Actress at the Oscars, shared a positive message addressed to young viewers and women during her speech.

    The 60-year-old actor called her win a “beacon of hope and possibility” to “all the boys and girls who look like me” before adding: “And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime.”

    SBS News edited out the word “ladies” and translated it to “everyone” in its coverage, according to Yonhap News Agency.

    The exclusion prompted outrage from viewers, who accused the major news network of misogyny. 

     “This is Michelle Yeoh’s speech. It belongs to her. Who are they to change it? This is internalized misogyny and misguided entitlement at disturbing levels,” one user tweeted.

    South Korean broadcaster SBS News is accused of misogyny for editing out the word “ladies” from its coverage

    Following the backlash, SBS News released a statement on Tuesday, noting that it had no intention of distorting Yeoh’s speech.

    “We excluded the word because we felt that the message, ‘Don’t let anyone tell you, you are ever past your prime’, isn’t exclusive to women,” the broadcaster said, according to The Strait Times

    SBS News has since deleted the edited segment from YouTube and re-uploaded Yeoh’s full, unedited speech. 

    However, many viewers described the broadcaster’s move as “censorship” and called for an official apology.

    Social media users also highlighted that removing the word “ladies” diminishes the struggles that many women currently face in their careers.

    “Michelle Yeoh was specifically talking about women within a specific age range that aren’t being hired because they’re past their prime. By censoring ‘ladies’, it distorts her entire message,” one person commented, according to The Strait Times.   

    Yeoh, who was TIME’s 2022 Icon of the Year, has been vocal about her battles with racism and sexism in Hollywood as an Asian woman who received little opportunities and recognition in the U.S. entertainment industry.

    “When [people] think ‘superhero’ … it’s always the guys who seem to be first in line for it,” Yeoh previously told Fresh Air. “Why is it that we older women cannot be the superhero?”

    In South Korea, an anti-feminism wave has reportedly stigmatized discussions surrounding women empowerment.

    The wave helped President Yoon Suk-yeol, a conservative politician who said he plans to abolish the country’s gender equality ministry, take office last year.

    Many young South Korean women reportedly do not feel comfortable talking about women’s rights in fear of being labeled a radical feminist.

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