Directions to the protest
Our protest will be outside the main entrance (West entrance) to Excel. This is the entrance right by Custom House DLR station. If you want to find it on google maps, search for ‘fox at excel’ which is very close to where we are protesting. Please note a section of the DLR is suspended for engineering works so you need to allow a bit of extra time for your journey. Either walk from Royal Albert which is very close by, or take the rail replacement bus from Canning Town. The bus will stop right by the entrance to Excel where we are protesting.
During the protest, please keep to the designated area. There are toilets and cafes in the centre that you can use when taking a break.
Join us to peacefully protest the Miss World final on Sunday 14 December 2014 from 12.30 to 2.30. Outside the main entrance to Excel (the West entrance) on the Western Terrace.
To get in touch, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Why object to ‘Miss World’?
Here are some of the reasons why we think it is important to protest…
What about women’s right to take part in a beauty contest?
We have nothing against women who choose to take part in beauty contests. However, we would say that the issue is not as simple as one of individual choice. Holding beauty contests has an impact on all women. The sexist idea that women should be judged on the basis of their appearance influences the way that all of us feel about ourselves as women and the way that men view and treat women. Beauty contests therefore become an issue for all women, not just those involved in the contest.
Aren’t beauty contests empowering?
We live in a society in which as women we are forever being told that being empowered is all about looking good and being attractive to men whether it be through beauty contests or cosmetic surgery, or a new lipstick or becoming a lap dancer. But is that real empowerment?
When the positions of power in society are vastly dominated by men, does winning a beauty contest or looking ‘hot’ really make a difference to the power relations? Rather than being empowering, beauty contests are in fact disempowering because they deny the full humanity of women and they reinforce the idea that women’s purpose is to look ‘attractive’.
Aren’t beauty contests harmless fun?
Beauty contests treat women as if we are objects to be compared and judged. This dehumanises women and leads to the idea that it is acceptable to view women as a sum of body parts, not real people. The first part of any oppression is to dehumanise the group that is oppressed. The more it becomes acceptable to view women as a sum of body parts, the easier it becomes to disrespect, to mistreat and even act out violence towards women as a group.
When we live in a society in which gender inequality is massive and violence against women is endemic, it becomes clear that any practice which promotes the objectification of women inevitably has an impact on the sexist attitudes which underpin mistreatment and that it is therefore clearly not harmless.
Aren’t beauty contests about celebrating beauty?
A beauty contest is not a celebration of beauty, it is a manifestation of sexism. There is nothing ‘beautiful’ about women being commodified and judged according to sexist, racist, homophobic and able-bodied notions of what constitutes beauty.
Do we still need feminism? Aren’t we post-feminism?
We live in a society in which 80% of MPs are male, 91% of High Court judges are male, 92% of Vice Chancellors of universities are male and 75% of people living in poverty are female. A society in which 1 in 4 women will be raped in her lifetime and in the UK 2 women die each week at the hands of a male partner or ex-partner. The revival of beauty contests, the pornification of culture, and the growing sexualisation of young girls are all signs of a mounting backlash against the gains women have made in society.
It is interesting to note that the revival of the sexist 1970s style beauty contests, which is very much a part of a general pornification of culture, is taking place at a time when women and men are actually becoming more equal in education and a time when girls are even outdoing boys at school. It is as if to remind us that as women, no matter how intelligent you are, your worth is still dependent on how you look. This is not liberation, it is a backlash.
To sum up:
The reintroduction of beauty contests is another example of how sexist practices are becoming seen as a normal and mainstream part of our lives rather than as sexist and outdated.
Beauty contests reinforce the idea that women are only of value according to their attractiveness and they reduce women to objects to be judged and compared on the basis of our appearance.
This erodes our human rights to be treated as equals and is therefore an issue for all women, not just those involved in the contest.
As women we have fought long and hard for the right to be treated and respected as thinking individuals, not as objects who exist in order to ‘look good’.
We want so much more for all women and that is why we are protesting the Miss World beauty contest!