Pageant Season

It’s that time of year again, when ladies are on display for the judgment of the entire nation, vying for the burden opportunity to be scrutinized honored as a national ambassador for youth, women, and the nation for the next year. Ah yes, it’s hunting pageant season.

It’s a little unsettling, this notion that women need to parade before a group of “judges” to be graded like cattle assessed as the next national flag bearer. And it’s even more unsettling how appealing this is to our society today, in 2016, where women not only have the vote, they become the President. (#ImWithHer)  And what's probably most unsettling, is that people not only engage in it, they almost relish the chance to pick apart someone else’s well intentioned efforts.

Why are we so engrossed with pageants? And why is so satisfying to cast our eyes and cast our judgments over women, in pageants, like it were sport?

If you think about it, at their core, Pageants are/ have become like spectator sport.  There is an element of competition, of skill, of talent, of preparation, and there are winners and losers.  It’s fun to see who wins, we gasp when they impress us, and we point and laugh when they make a mistake. What makes this warped is, we are judging women for being women. It is implicit in this "competition" that there is a more skilled, more perfect way of being a woman, than being the woman that you are.  It reinforces some of the old stereotypes that women have fought against for years, that there is some/ one society approved "correct" way to be a woman.

As modern, progressive women, how do we reconcile and celebrate the “pageant” when it tells women, you must be judged, and are only worthy if you meet these criteria.  You could say it implies, that the losers are in some way "less of a woman."

As a modern, progressive woman, who is also a supporter of opportunities for women, and celebrator of women, there is no easy way to do this.

I think it would be the easy thing to say, pageants are an archaic notion that oppresses women. We should ban them. I think that idea ignores the fact that pageants celebrate and showcase our culture, our causes, it also highlights the achievements and bravery of women who choose to stand before society, and say, this is who I am, and I am proud. 

It would be easy to call all the people who participate and go to pageants as being ignorant or not “woke” enough to the fact that they’re actually supporting some sexist old tradition of judging women for sport. Even though they kind of are.  But they are also championing women, granting women scholarships and giving them a voice and a platform.  Pageant winners have been some of the most talented, smart, inspirational women I’ve ever met/ seen. You can see that they have seen and seized an opportunity to further themselves and be of service.

At the end of the day, what it boils down to is that neither side is right or wrong and probably both are true. Women, like most things in life are complex.  You cannot pin us down into a narrow box.  There is no one definition and one judgment on what women can and should do.  We are varied, and we are wonder filled (like Oreos). As is the very premise of equality, you can exercise your right as a woman to make up your own damn mind. It is after all, 2016.