Why we protest the Miss UF Beauty Pageant
On February 17 the Campus National Organization for Women protested the Miss UF Beauty Pageant. We handed out 300 protest flyers which stated our disgust with Florida Blue Key and the University of Florida for holding a sexist pageant where women must be inspected in swimsuits and parade around in evening gowns in order to be awarded scholarship money. We are not against the women in this pageant or against beauty, but we are against beauty contests which epitomize how women are forced to adhere to harmful beauty standards in order to get economic and social benefits. Beauty contests encourage women to see themselves as an object (like a car) to be judged by men. Beauty contests hurt all women by treating us as objects held up to a strict standard of "beauty," a standard that is painful, time-consuming, and expensive for women to try to acheive. Is it not enough to be among the smartest and most talented women at UF, we also have to be flawless in a bathing suit?
Campus NOW sees something inherently hypocritical (and sexist) that an institution that claims to respect women would judge us and reward us for how we look. Women must be found beautiful based on our real selves. Women should not be rewarded or punished based on the way we look and this is why we protested the Miss UF Pageant. UF women want Education, NOT exploitation!!
Campus NOW was out there the night of the pageant, giving out handbills explaining our protest in order to call an end to this male supremacist tradition. We had some "press", and we find it quite ironic that he spoke only to one of the few male protesters, who is not even a member of NOW, nor representative of our action. There were 15 female and male protesters who held signs that said: "UF women want education NOT exploitation", "Power NOT Pedestals", and "Women at UF fight for their rights: 1950's women integrate UF, 1970's women integrate Florida Blue Key, 1990's women shut down Miss UF Pageant." The Alligator was not interested in covering what we were trying to say or what really happened. At a protest organized by and for women, Jason Parkhurst (the Alligator's star "photojournalist") made no attempt to actually talk to one woman. It is poor journalism to misrepresent an organization and an event.
UF feminists got women in Florida Blue Key, NOT Beauty Pageants or any actions by FBK. Much like they resisted women protesting the pageant last week by threatening us, FBK fought allowing women in their boy's club every step of the way. No woman would be in the UF administration without a movement for equal rights for women. If it was not for the women's liberation movement, women at UF would still be required to wear dresses on campus and have curfews, and we would not even be allowed to attend UF. Florida Blue Key may get off on seeing women on stage in bikinis and sexy gowns, but Campus NOW thinks women have more work to do in FBK and at UF than be in sexist calendars and pageants. Women can and do lead at the University of Florida and it is time we were praised for it! If you would like to demand these pageants end, call Florida Blue Key 337-0022 or President Lombardi 392-1311.
Like our foresisters in the women's liberation movement, Campus NOW continues the struggle for women's rights and we will not stand by while UF stands in our way. Join us! To get involved contact us at ufsfccNOW@juno.com or call 377-9935.
This was a collaborative editorial with work from the following University of Florida/Santa Fe Community College Campus NOW members: Candi Churchill, Noreen Gaddoniex, Nicole Hardin, and Stephanie Seguin. It was originally printed in the Alligator.
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