Social Issues

What the Miss Universe debate misses

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The case of 23-year-old Jenna Talackova, who was initially disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada pageant, prompted its rules to allow transsexual women into the competition.

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

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4 thoughts on “What the Miss Universe debate misses

  1. tama ka raf. hindi na napapanahon ang miss universe. bilang babae, sa una natutuwa ako pag nakikilala ang mga pinay sa international pageant na to. pero bilang babae, minsan nalulungkot ako kasi sikat sila pero hindi naman talaga naeempower ang mga babae sa pageant. gaya ng sabi mo pinapaalala ang mga auction noon ng mga african at iba pang lahi na ibinebenta bilang alipin. naalala ko yung music video ng Many Moons ni Janelle Monae, yung pinakita ko sa yo dati.

  2. kaugnay ng sinabi mong “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,” makikita sa pageant ang komodipikasyon ng pagkatao ng mga kalahok. parallel ang komodipikasyon sa pageant sa iba pang shows gaya ng mga variety shows, talk shows, talent shows na diumano’y nag-eempower sa mga ‘gusto’ nilang tulungan na sa isang banda’y maaaring totoo. pero ang pangunahing pwersang nagtutulak sa kanila ay ang pagkakitaan ang mga taong walang malay na sinusupil na sila.

    • Rafael ay nagsasabing:

      Totoo. Sa isang banda, nakatutulong ang mga beauty pageants, variety shows (e.g. Eat Bulaga) at Wish Ko Lang shows, sa laki ba naman ng perang pinapamudmod nila. Kaso, kung titingnan, paraan lang ito ng mga naghaharing uri upang patibayin ang posisyon nila sa lipunan. Hindi talaga naeempower ng mga ito ang mga mamamayan kasi tinuturan nilang dumepende sa mga malalaking kompanya ang mga tao sa halip na sa sarili nilang kakayahan.

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