What is the 4b movement, and why is everyone talking about it?

Back in the BCE years, Aristophanes wrote a play that absolutely rocked peoples’ world and blew their minds. It was called Lysistrata, and it proposed an ingenious solution to the problem of men being stupid. In order to put an end to the Peloponnesian War—in which Greeks and Spartans hashed it out for 20 years—Lysistrata, a married Athenian woman, hits on a brilliant solution. They’ll stop having sex with their husbands.

Obviously it’s not a perfect plan, but it works—for a minute, anyway. The comic play was way ahead of its time, and contains some pretty penetrating insights about the problems of marriage, compulsory heterosexuality, and life under patriarchal rule. And now, the lessons of Lysistrata are coming to bear in South Korea, where women are taking matters into their own hands.

Enter: the 4b movement.


South Korea’s feminist 4B movement started in 2019 but is blowing up all over again. No heterosexual marriage, no childbirth, no dating men and no heterosexual sexual relationships. It’s about the radical rejecting of traditional gender norms. So how did it start, what does it mean and is it really impacting the country’s birth rates? #4b #4bmovementsouthkorea #4bmovement

♬ original sound – The News Movement

If you haven’t heard of the 4b movement before, allow TikTok to explain. After a long history of being hurt, ignored, and treated horribly by men (not to mention a femicide currently happening in the country) South Korean women are going the Lysistrata route and refusing to have anything to do with them. And people all over the world are sitting up and taking notice. Fertility rates are plummeting, and the government is panicking.


@Drew Afualo the 4b movement is a dating and feminist movement from South Korea that’s trending all over right now #dating #feminism #adviceforgirls #datingadvice #greenscreenvideo #greenscreen

♬ original sound – Andra

It’s not just about being able to make a break from the patriarchy: it’s in response to a wave of violence specifically targeted against women.


#stitch with @jeanie 🍉 #4bmovement #korea im not saying korea is horrible, but theres major work to be done as a society

♬ original sound – 𝕿𝕬𝕳𝕴𝕮𝕳𝕬

That said, there’s a lot more to the story than TikTok would have us believe. Birth rates are on the decline, but it’s more about affordability: in South Korea, just like here, the rent is too damn high, and people can’t afford to get married even if they want to. But there is a dedicated community of folks who are sick of the harassment and have been taking a stand since 2016.

“4B is shorthand for four Korean words that all start with bi-, or ‘no’,” an article from The Cut explains. “The first no, bihon, is the refusal of heterosexual marriage. Bichulsan is the refusal of childbirth, biyeonae is saying no to dating, and bisekseu is the rejection of heterosexual sexual relationships. It is both an ideological stance and a lifestyle, and many women I spoke to extend their boycott to nearly all the men in their lives, including distancing themselves from male friends.”

While we don’t know how many women identify as being part of the movement (estimation varies wildly, from around 5,000 to 50,000), we do know that the concept is catching fire on TikTok, where American women—fed up with the many problems of a patriarchal, misogynist society—are coming around to the same idea.


yall heard me!!!! 🫵🏽 LMFAOOOOO

♬ original sound – Drew Afualo

TikToker and influencer Drew Afualo perhaps put it best when she said that the 4b movement is “proof…that women have far more power than men have ever led you to believe.”

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