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The Revenge of the Cute: Human Dolls and the Mortification of the Female Body

One of the central motifs in the aesthetics of cuteness that dominates the most widely disseminated strains in East Asian pop culture - especially the aegyo aesthetic in Korea - is the mortification of the female body: specifically, tropes in which the female body is treated as if it were corpse-like in the sense of being uncomprehending and passive. However, while such tropes can obviously contribute to bigoted conceptions of femininity, I argue that aegyo’s radical intensification of those qualities that endow a female body with cuteness opens up the possibility of undermining misogynistic masculine desire in a distinctive way.

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