Since the recent announcement of the Miss Universe that it is now allowing transsexual women in its international pageant, the chattering classes simply would not stop. Those who support this move see it as progressive effort to further gender equality in society (Is that same-sex marriage we see in the horizon?). There are also those who are outraged, denouncing it as a huge disrespect for the 60-year-old international event that supposedly celebrates womanhood. Many also fear that transsexual women would soon crowd natural-born females out of the pageant, like weeds choking a garden.
However, all these talks ignore a vital issue, that is, whether beauty pageants are still of any relevance today. In a time of female presidents, female CEOs and female astronauts, nothing can be more counterproductive than to judge a woman by how well she works that bikini. Beauty pageants also bring to mind the slave auction in the olden days where men and women are sold in a market, bodies freely fingered by prospective slave owners to see if they were sturdy enough to work in a farm, mine or manor. Little wonder, then, that the number of female victims of human trafficking is increasing every year.
What the beauty pageant has done is not unlike what a business enterprise does: acquire yet another market.To increase its profit, of course. An oppressive power winning the consent of an otherwise oppressed group of people to fortify itself.
If anything, this move brought to light what being a woman really means for the organizers of the Miss Universe, and other similar beauty pageants as well: A woman is anyone who looks like a Barbie doll.
Whatever happened to the feminist movement?
Image source: LA Times