Monday, March 28, 2005

Shaking booties to end prejudice

When I was a frustrated teen dragging myself through the misery of a segregated society in Saudi Arabia, I loved beauty pageants. It was the glamour, the iconic status, the swim-suits and the too-hopeful-to-be-real answers that I could tsk-tsk at. And off course there were the hormones and the male ego; estranged forces that have a significant contribution in what ails the world today.
So, when A tells me to mind my own business where the Miss Canada Pakistan Beauty pageant is concerned, I tell her the story of a young chauvinistic male who fell in love with a wonderful woman and realized that his notions were downright prejudiced. That he knew absolutely nothing about women and their world, and whatever he did know through feeble, half-hearted interactions and pop culture was a lie that he had digested gullib-ly, never realizing that the tsk-tsk should have been directed at his own fantasies and fictional ideas.
Thank you Love!
I have since given up on most of these publicity and marketing gimmicks-the magazines, the advertising, the top 10 lists, and the sexual innuendo streamed through pop culture.
'Beauty pageants are an entry into the modeling world.' 'They provide networking opportunities for females looking forward to a career in that industry.' And the particular one for this event was 'it shakes off the image of Pakistanis as fanatical and terrorists'. Interesting take, that last one.
That it feeds ambition, competition and provides exposure to young females is a good argument. But it does all this while instilling a belief in the participants and the players surrounding, that beauty is something to be used, judged and given points on. Countless teens and young adults - the demographic interest group (geek-speak for young and dumb consumers) are fed the images of these very models, reinforcing the belief that to be successful you need to work hard; on your waist-line, the swing of your hips, the size of breasts and how enticing a package you can create based on what the media thinks is a good figure.
Self-esteem issues are bound to follow.
The argument that the battle is half-beauty, half-brains is rather naive, and you don't have to know the IQ of the losers for proof, you only need to hear the judges questions. The 'world peace' answers in Miss Congeniality come to mind.
Most women think that if chauvinists were given complete control they would turn women either into geishas or sex symbols. That, too, is a rather naive belief. Men have adverserial tendencies so they love the concept of a bitch. Plainly said, it gives them someone to fight with. And also, they love the idea of the invisible woman who can only be seen when she is sought, otherwise remaining invisible and ignored. Then there is the need for a man-woman, a female who is convinced that they way men go through their lives is the right way. Emotions, communication at a more personal level, finding and establishing complex social interactions should be left out for male-bonding activities like sports and beer-bottle competitions.
All this to say, that the way a man spins a woman around is much more complex. Its a world by men and for men. And they have learnt the tricks to keep it that way, too.
But A, its still a free country, and if you want to use the words Pakistani Canadian, go ahead. Can't force one persons views on another, can we? That the organizers went ahead despite opposition from conservative religious groups shows they are willing to stick in and fight. By all means, go ahead. Just don't claim to be opening doors, providing opportunities and fixing fanatical images, when you are creating more problems then you are solving.