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I’d love to see those videos up on London Indymedia.
I came over here from The F Word – I think this is rather brilliant. I especially liked the stink bombs. British Feminism needs more direct activism like this.
This sort of made my day! well done!
Brilliant! You way out- cooled the presenter and contestants :D
‘I mean really… how embarrassing for me!’
Hats off to you!
Good work :)
Disgusting. How dare you patronise the choice of another woman? What gives you the right to tell her what she ought and ought not to do with HER OWN BODY? Feminism is supposed to be about supporting a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and self-determination and respecting what she cares about, not about insisting that she shun admiration of her beauty so as to make less attractive women feel better or reduce the number of stages on which women can compete.
A girl from my university has posted a request for support for her bid to become “Miss Student 2009” on our university website. I have submitted a response asking people to boycott such blatently sexist events.
Waiting to see if it will get posted.
Thank you for doing this!
Grace: these ‘contests’ don’t exist to empower the women that take part (despite their claims), but merely re-enforce the sexist notion that women should only be looked at and regarded in terms of their looks and sex appeal to men.
There is an excellent write-up here you may want to read Grace as it makes some very pertinant and critical points about the action in relation to feminism.
The guys in the front row with their bloated cock-sure posturing as they blatantly leer at the compere say it all for me. This contest empowers male audience members to see women stripped of dignity, talent, intelligence, character and all other distracting indicators of their human worth, in order that they can be judged purely on their sex appeal…. Perfect for ‘storing the visual info’ for their night time w*nk fantasies….what good empowering value those guys must have got for their money that night.
At Steph: I don’t think it matters whether the event was designed to be empowering. I agree that I don’t think it was. What matters is whether it was something that these girls chose, and I believe that choice ought to be offered sufficient respect to be allowed to happen without interference, regardless of what we think of the women who took part in it.
The second thing that I find problematic is the attack of some parts of the feminist movement upon beauty per se, and the fact that this attack is likely to be interpreted in that way. The idea that being beautiful is not a worthwhile pursuit seems to be a partriarchal way of diminishing an achievement that for some reason we have chosen to construct as essentially feminine.
I have no problem with this being a money-spinner. In fact, I have fewer problems with this being a money-spinner than I would have if it was a patronising attempt at “giving women self-esteem”. Self esteem isn’t something society owes you, nor is it something that can be given, and I am far more insulted by the notion that self-esteem is something that can be offered-and by implication taken away- by men, than I am by the notion that someone said “lets get some fit girls and make a quick buck on the drinks”.
The Bug: Yes, you really sum up how I felt when I watched that video!
Grace: The problem with ‘choice’ is that it doesn’t mean to say that one person’s choice doesn’t have wider implications for others – women that are ‘anti-abortion’, for example, well that is their choice, but that may negatively impact other women if it means those women not being able to get abortion when they need it.
If some women want to take part in such contests, then so be it (it’s not about criticising their choices per se, it’s about criticising the motives for holding such contests), but if those women taking part then inadvertently feed into the sexist/mysogynist acceptibility that treating/regarding women purely based on their looks/as sex objects/as eye-candy is ‘ok’, then what does this then do, or mean, for other women??
We can already see how porn works in this respect. Sure, there are some women who like to be porn stars. Yet, not every (most) woman do and yet because of those some that do, porn still feeds into the wider attitudes of:
how men treat women;
what men expect of women;
how women relate to their own bodies.
So, just saying that ‘choice’ can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Feminism has inspired women to have choice, but all choices also have a consequence – and by taking action against such contests will hopefully inform perhaps the women that take part that their choices can have wider implications too for other women; as well sending a message to those that organise them – and I repeat, what is the purpose of organising a ‘Miss’ contest if its not to basically parade women on show for men’s gratification?
I don’t think it matters one jot whether their choices indirectly affect other women. It is their body. I believe that you own your own body and you control your own mind, and you are not morally obligated to use or restrict the way you use either of those things to benefit of other people. You are responsible to other people only when you physically infringe on their bodily autonomy or the property they have acquired. These girls were not doing that, you were, by entering a space you had not rented and probably bumping into one of the girls on the catwalk if I saw the video correctly.
By the way I am pro-life-it is not about personal choice, it is about the life of another human being, a right which trumps your bodily autonomy for 9 months when you have taken the risk of that happening.
Feminism is supposed to be about reinforcing the principle of women having ownership over their own bodies, physically and metaphorically, not appropriating their bodies and minds for the collective good of other women.
Grace: Well, actually, Feminism is about smashing patriarchal oppression, not merely women having control and ownership over their own bodies and self.
As you mention that you are pro-life, is that only confined to yourself, or do you therefore expect all women to also be pro-life also? Or are you happy for them to be pro-choice?
Just interested really?
I am prolife for everyone. I believe abortion is murder, and should be treated as such.
Ehem… Sorry if i do interrupt this conversation between Grace and Steph but i feel i must.
Grace: it is insulting and dangerous for all of us that women continue to be judged on her looks in a cattle market way, you can’t dismiss the impact this has in our lives and in the education of our children. If you’d have any historical frame of mind you’d be able to see that free choice is another invention of the capitalist culture, such a thing simply DOESN’T EXIST. Those philosophies of liberty and free choice are shorn of any analysis or remedies for power imbalances. Having history as an indicator, a milieu in which pure liberty reigns results in the strong prevailing over the weak and the wealthy overpowering the poor; men are privileged over women, small underdeveloped countries are at the mercy of larger, industrial powers. And in a capitalist society to be beautiful is not a choice for women, is a requirement.
As said by Naomi Wolf in The Beauty Myth, something i highly recommend you to read: during the past decades, women breached the power structure; meanwhile, eating disorders rose exponentially, cosmetic surgery has become the fastest-growing medical speciality, consumer spending doubled and pornography has become the main media category. (and if you think woman are getting any part of the cake just forget about it: women represent over the 50% of the population, they perform nearly two thirds of all working hours, receive only one tenth of the world income and own less than 1% of world property).
So PLEASE, stop talking about free choice, beauty as being a totally inoffensive concept and controlling our minds, we are not controlling anything at all, wake up.
And regarding what you call your pro-life choice, it’s just difficult to understand how you can talk about the right of those girls to control their own body and then take that right back as they get pregnant. What gives you the right to tell what women ought and ought not to do with THEIR OWN BODY? Taking the risk of this happening is simply being a normal woman with a sexual life, accidents might happen but they just fall into women’s bodies and responsibility, or worse, rape, happen far too often. I wonder where your pro-choices ideas will fall if a member of your family, or yourself, falls pregnant after being raped.
Feminism is not supposed to be nothing at all, specially not your simplistic idea of it, it is a concept that has a different meaning for each one of us, depending on our backgrounds and life experiences. And yeah, as Steph well says it, it is about smashing patriarchal oppression mainly, and beauty contests are an invention of this same patriarchal oppressors.
And what to you say after that? Oh yeah, that the idea that being beautiful is not a worthwhile pursuit seems to be a patriarchal way of diminishing an achievement that for some reason we have chosen to construct as essentially feminine. I mean, what a fuck are you saying here, Grace, that to be beautiful is a worthwile pursuit and not accepting that is somehow fucked up and patriarchal????
I am sorry im letting myself go to the limit of being rude, i just can’t take this nonsense anymore. Enough is enough.
Grace, for fuck sake, WAKE UP.
I have read the Beauty Myth. I disagreed with it.
Free choice is a wonderful invention of capitalist culture. In this country, every woman has a choice about what to do with her life and body. That should not be usurped just because some people are too weak minded to think through a choice. Take responsibility for what you choose in your life, let others take responsibility for theirs.
Like the women in this pageant, I am a middle class-ish university student, with a reasonable level of education. I was brought up to believe I could have, and do, anything. I am the sort of woman who is prepared to be no-sex-before marriage in a society which deems sex to be so necessary a human life experience major media institutions countenance and support disabled/older people paying for sex so they can avoid dying virgins and 14 year old girls need to be offered HPV vaccines; the sort of woman who is prepared to stand up for the rights of the unborn child; the sort of woman who from the age of 11 to 14 refused uniform and wore an M&S suit to school (because there is no way the state is telling me what to wear); the sort of woman who was willing to report fraud in a law firm despite being 17 and living alone in a foreign country; the sort of woman who stayed there, despite being mugged twice, chased once by a middle aged man with his dick out, followed home frequently and perpetually hit-on everywhere I went (blonde, apparently, is more important than thin in Spain); and the sort of woman who applied to Oxford law twice (and got in) because I wasn’t willing to take no for an answer. I have read what there is to say about beauty, and I have chosen my brimming makeup bag, stilettos and bursting wardrobe of things to-slim-into. I have chosen to support my sister’s attempt at a modelling career, and if I’d had the looks for it, would have gone for one myself. Why? Because a part of life is the performance of it, and part of that performance is beauty.
This is not a decision I have taken in ignorance, or simplistic acceptance, and the suggestion that I make my choices about anything in such a way is positively insulting. I have no respect for people who do that, and, therefore, while I might waver when it comes to deciding between looking good and a Krispy Kreme, I am not willing to think twice about my influence on some weak-minded airhead who can’t think through her own priorities. I don’t owe other women self esteem, and the sort of women who are prepared to wear pink taffeta, under ANY circumstances, do not deserve it anyway. I simply am not going to buy into a conception of human nature which postulates that people have no minds of their own.
The problem with beauty is not that it keeps women down by providing another platform to compete on, but that it is a platform on which men are not expected to compete, and a platform which they are defined out of. Thus they are deprived of the misery and the joy that it can bring. The fun thing about capitalism, though, is that all around the country there are hundreds of clever marketing people trying to combat this culture, in the hope that they can make a slice of the cash that goes into the beauty market. Chanel moisturiser, Armani aftershave, and a hundred pairs of brogues are already standard requirements of daddy’s dressing ritual designed to make him feel he looks the part, and before long, hopefully, they will reach the slightly dustier minds of oxbridge undergrads- I am most certainly working on it.
Grace: So, let’s get this straight… one minute you are saying that the women should have choice (if it means them taking part in a sexist Miss… contest), yet the next you are wanting to deny other women being able to exercise rights and choice over their own bodies if it means having an abortion!
Taking part in a beauty contest is not directly and intentionally taking away another human being’s life.
I would like to discuss with you the points you disagree with in the Beauty Myth, i think it could be very interesting and challenging for both of us.
Yesterday i was reading this amazing book, Arm the Spirit by Diana Block (hopefully you’ve also read this one and we can discuss it too), and i felt very touched at some points, strangely found myself thinking about you while reading this passage:
“When I was 11, a man had sexually assaulted me and my sister in our apartment building stairwell, holding a knife to my sister and ordering me to pull up my dress. Instead of complying, I started screaming and pushed my sister out of his reach. Startled, he ran down the stairs while I, my sister and assorted neighbours all ran after him. He disappeared into the cavities of the Upper West Side and my sister and I returned to the seeming safety of our forth-floor apartment, physically untouched but shell-shocked. That evening, my mother didn’t applaud me for having resisted assault and adverted danger. Instead, she scolded me for wearing such a tight belt on my dress since it obviously emphasised my hips and attracted men. I argued with her, but she had planted a seed of doubt and guilt. I put the belt away in my closet and never wore that dress again.”
When you talked about your pro-life vision i was puzzled because i still find it hard to believe that women can turn their backs to other women in that cold way, filling their puritan mouths with words like murder and believing to be compassionate while doing it, showing much compassion for unborn human beings but none to the ones living and struggling. But i do realise that the hand of patriarchy is large and wide, it take us all by surprise, and while we live controlled by it we still believe they are actually our ideas and our personal choices.
There was also that bit in the book that wanted to share with you:
“The fear of rape touches every woman – working, middle class, and across racial lines. Men in society have a stake in perpetuating rape – aggressive sexuality keeps women dependent on men in the home and family, and limits the types of jobs women can take. The act of rape and the myths about rape are part of the social structure of our society. The myths that are perpetuated about rape help reinforce the racism and classism of the society. Police, laws, and courts all have been set up to serve the ruling men in power in the country, so it doesn’t make sense to put a lot of energy into reforming them, we need to come up with community alternatives.”
I think that reminded me of you partly because you said you study law in Oxford.
As i read you last message, i can see by the recount of your life that you were/are a rebellious young woman, not accepting a no for an answer and not letting others impose on you their rules. I do admire you for that and i realise that there is nothing i could say that could make you change your mind: everything it’s going to be about life experience. When in 20 years your sister will be suffering discrimination of the lost beauty and the ageing, when she will be forced to face a world that before used to embrace her beauty and now just turns its back to her because she’s no young anymore and you’ll have to support her neurosis and be by her side, then you’ll might understand the horrible proportions of the beauty myth. And maybe when you will start a sexual life with someone (as i understand you are a virgin now) you will understand better the contradictions and complications that thing brings into your life as a woman.
You might also learn that through the experience of someone very close to you, and hopefully that won’t be something as devastating as rape and sexual abuse, but it will be by the empathy that suddenly warms your heart.
Because i saw the most misogynistic man i’ve ever met changing radically during the last 6 months of his deadly cancer (my father), i can say now and be sure about it, that everyone is at some point in their live confronted with the errors of judgement they’ve made. Sometimes it takes something very dramatic to happen, depending on the level of stubbornness of that person. I really hope that won’t be the case for you, and that by meeting other women and exchanging life experiences you’ll realize one day your mistakes.
Tina wrote “aggressive sexuality keeps women dependent on men in the home and family, and limits the types of jobs women can take”. Do you really think aggressive sexuality of men is so planned? You think that they are so in control? No wonder you have so many issues! You really think men are gods! In reality, they are little boys, desperate for female flesh — and those who are aggressive about it, simply stand more chance of getting it. Perhaps you have read to much, become indoctrinated & able to repeat the party line well, but have little life experience? Or am I & other women who know (& like) men just more “stupid blondes” to you? Or maybe you are really game, care not, and know your best chances for whatever defines success to you are to put down other women?
Well Goldie, i didnt really write that, i was quoting a statement from the 70s i read in a book that was (i thought) relevant to the discussion i was having with Grace about the meaning of feminism and about being against abortion, so that’s why i was talking about rape, which is a very real and serious issue, i don’t understand why you should negate it by saying that men are all little boys. Did you really read the whole post and the ones before?
To be totally honest, i don’t quite understand what’s your point, apart from really wanting to insult me at any cost… Are you telling me that the only thing i do is to put down other women by putting me down? That is hilarious. I really think you make no sense at all, darling. Why do you say that i think you are a stupid blond? I don’t even know you, and like if i cared which color your hair is! For me it could be blue or violet, it makes no difference to me, my dear.
Are you a friend of Grace or something? I really find your post too defensive to be true, quite funny actually, specially the last sentence.
I don’t agree with Grace re: abortion, but her general idea that this isn’t a worthwhile cause…it makes sense.
Steph said “Well, actually, Feminism is about smashing patriarchal oppression, not merely women having control and ownership over their own bodies and self.”
MERELY having control over your own body? Sorry but what more do you want?!
You cannot control the minds of men, and quite frankly, as a feminist, I am disgusted that you are trying to limit other women’s choices in life.
Maybe beauty contests FEEL as if they hurt women, but think about it. It is YOUR responsibility as an adult to not let them affect your life.
I don’t like beauty contests either, but how dare you limit the choices of others?
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