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Miss (Feminist?!) Universe

Monday morning and I’m bombarded with chatter about Miss Universe. And – shocker! – I do not care about this event, universe chatter be damned!

What I do care about is this:

We’re 2 days into our 16 Days of Activism campaign, trying to highlight violence against women and everyone’s responsibility to end it. And the world is talking about a beauty pageant?! Is this the 1950s?! Yes – perhaps it is.

The fact that #MissUniverse2017 (and every variation thereof) is trending while anything related to 16 Days, to violence against women, to gender-based violence is NOT says everything about what we prioritize on this planet.

So – when I’m feeling feisty and fed-up, I turn to Auntie Twitter so I can bitch freely – in short spurts. And I asked her this:

Someone please tell me what value a beauty competition adds:

  1. to the women’s movement

  2. to equality

  3. to human rights

  4. to respect and dignity for women

  5. to body image

  6. to girls’ confidence

  7. to ending eating disorders

  8. to valuing diversity


[I hear the trolls frothing at the mouth, itching to get at me with their oh-so-clever feminists-are-ugly-and-therefore-jealous-of-beautiful-women-therefore-are-pageant-haters-because-they-want-to-remake-the-world-as-they-are: sad, old, lonely, ugly – and bra-less]

So – I consulted Dr. Google and found an article from the Philippines asking if beauty pageants are sexist or feminist. They said: It may also be due to our misogynistic roots since our very culture relishes in the over-scrutiny and control of women’s bodies.

Guess what? Not just in the Philippines, sisters.

The article presents a nuanced view of beauty competitions – which I appreciate. On the one stilletto’ed shoe it argues that feminism is about freedom and if-you-love-it-go-for-it kind of stuff – to which I subscribe, to a certain extent. And then there’s the other shoe: body shaming, sexism, exploitation, misogyny, Stepford-Wifery and all sorts of other unsavory stuff.

[Anyone interested in setting up a Feminist-Universe competition – without the Miss/Mrs crap – please call me]

Nuanced-article says more, essentially arguing that this industry perpetuates all this stuff while doing little to counter it. Do we blame the pageant for people’s behavior? [Let’s make a parallel here with the guns-don’t-kill-people-people-kill-people sort of BS logic that is often used to counter these arguments]

Even if you subscribe to the don’t-blame-the-guns rationale, I still believe that the industry (guns, beauty, whatever) needs to be held accountable for the toxic behaviors it encourages, as the article says.

Because, all of the above is precisely the stuff that – guess what?! – FUELS violence against women. In fact, it is both a cause and consequence of such violence. The objectification of women certainly doesn’t contribute to our agenda to END violence against women and girls, right?! Additionally, women who have experienced violence are even more likely to experience all of these things. It’s a cycle – a seemingly-neverending one.

Enter: 16 Days of Activism!

This campaign started in 1991. So it has been running for 27 years. 27 years of 16 days means 432 days of activism – more than a year’s worth of activism.

[Wow – that’s a lot of activism, you might be thinking!]

But we’re talking about 432 days over 27 whole years, which is 9855 days. So 16 is clearly not enough days.

But, in one year, there are 349 supposedly non-activist days (for some, that is). Which brings me to this point: if the world insists on objectifying women through these rubbish pageants and whatnot, couldn’t you at least find ANOTHER day to do it?!

#Feminism #16Days #MissUniverse #WomensRights #VAW #BeautyPageants #GBV

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