Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Good and Bad Sexploitation?

 A step up for Colombian women? The new Miss Universe, Colombian Paulina Vega, in all her glory.
The El Espectador and El Tiempo newspapers sold out early yesterday, thanks to the crowning of Paulina Vega as Miss Universe.

Should Colombians be proud that this young woman from Barranquilla was crowned the prettiest
Tabloids celebrate Colombia's
Miss Universe victory.
woman on Earth? Should Colombians cheer that their women are honored for their looks and curves, rather than their brains and abilities?

In response to a question about what women could learn from men, Vega opined that many men do believe in gender equity, and that women could learn that from men. Admittedly, beauty queens are not known for their intellectual depth, but that response strikes me as remarkably off base. Presumably, women should by nature believe more strongly in gender equity and not need to learn that from men. And, by perpetuating shallow, stereotypical images of women, is Vega doing anything to reduce such gender inequity?
Evidently, Colombia's got a ways to go to reduce inequity. The 2014 Social Institutions and Gender Index ranked Colombia 38th out of 108 nations surveyed, but behind most of the other Latin American nations. In 2013, the United Nations Development Program’s Gender Inequality Index ranked Colombia 91st out of 186 nations. And gender violence - most notoriously acid attacks - remains a huge problem here.

And what about the contrast between the celebration of Vega's victory and the (very justified) outrage over the recent Miss Tanguita, or Little Miss Thong, beauty contest held in the town of Barbosa, featuring 6 to 10-year-old girls.

A step forward for girls? A Little Miss Tanga contestant parades before a drunken crowd.
While a world of difference exists between children and adults exhibiting their bodies, the two contests promote the same values of beauty and sexuality. If Little Miss Thong is damaging because of the way it exploits young girls and celebrates the wrong values, can Miss Universe be so different?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

No comments: