There are many more pressing issues to consider than the decision to terminate the swimsuit competition in the Miss America pageant, a move that makes about as much sense as NASCAR finding a way to eliminate crash scenes from the racetrack. In other words, it’s what kept audiences watching and advertisers paying. However, it wasn’t so much the loss of the bikini as it was the explanation given for this latest descent into #MeToo mayhem that gave me pause.
“We are not going to judge you on your outward appearance, it’s going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in when they talk about their social impact initiatives,” Gretchen Carlson, the organization’s chairwoman, told Good Morning America this week. “We are moving it forward and evolving it in this Cultural Revolution.”
Ah, yes. The revolution. Someone pass the popcorn.
I should start by saying that I have no dog in this fight; at least not a big dog. Whether Miss America contestants decide to strut onstage in transparent bikinis or full body armor makes very little difference to me. The last time I tuned in to the ‘bathing beauty revue’ – as the original contest was advertised in 1921 – was late in the last century.
Nevertheless, questions remain: will shunning the feminine physique with its #byebyebikini campaign really serve to empower women, or reverse the ‘sexual objectification’ of the female species? If a woman can inspire awe by virtue of her physical attractiveness and finesse, is that necessarily a bad thing? After all, male body builders, for example, are no less ‘objectified’ than females who appear in the Miss America contests. And with obesity rates off the charts, it would seem that some real-life examples of physically fit male and females to influence the next generation may not be the worst idea.
Twitter user Jacob Friedlander summed it up nicely, writing: “Body building is pageant that is used to solely show off the aesthetic benefits of fitness… not strength, endurance, but solely cosmetic. What is wrong with having a portion of a voluntary competition that includes ‘showing off’ your ability to display self-control?”
Body building is pageant that is used to solely show off the aesthetic benefits of fitness..not strength, endurance, but solely cosmetic. What is wrong with having a portion of a voluntary competition that includes “showing off” your ability to display self control?
That is really the main point: here we have grown-up, consenting adults who have agreed to participate in an event that requires them to compete in their bikinis. If home viewers disagree with the event, they can always choose to tune out.
In any case, is it really desirable, or even possible, to eradicate the ‘law of attraction’ from the human equation? After all, a large part of the way human beings decide who they would like to spend the rest of their lives with – paying taxes and procreating – is based on raw physical appearance (which may also go far in explaining why divorce rates are so high, by the way). ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ may sound like a banal cliché, but it helps to explain how the human race has been successfully reproducing itself for thousands of years. Yet we are being told to forget that beauty exists because it is a detriment to the female species. I am not buying that argument.
What these brave culture warriors seem to forget is that the celebration of male and female beauty is everywhere around us. Museums around the world are filled with artistic representations of the female body (without the swimsuit), alongside nude male depictions as well, we should add. Will these cultural venues be the next stop of the “cultural revolution” that Ms. Carlson was speaking about? I predict it will happen.
In order to show unflagging loyalty to the #MeToo movement, some day in the near future every piece of artwork that depicts a nude female will have to be duly removed or covered. If you scoff at the possibility of the famous Venus de Milo, for example, being sent to the basement of the Louvre due to its ‘negative associations,’ ask yourself how many people could have imagined we’d be tearing down historic statues commemorating Civil War generals in the 21st century?
And then there is the breathtaking hypocrisy that surrounds the Miss America censorship. Consider Hollywood, the very bastion of depravity where countless females have been subjected to countless acts of violence and sexual assault. And that’s just on Harvey Weinstein’s casting couch. When actresses are not being portrayed as the victim on the big screen, they are portrayed as a sexual and seductive sidekick to some strong and rugged male. Will the famous ‘Bond girls’ survive the fallout from the #MeToo movement?
And then there is the music industry, which is totally out of control in terms of the message it is sending to our impressionable youth. If you really want to see the objectification of women on full display, watch, for example, Miley Cyrus’ video ‘Wrecking Ball,’ or Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl.’
Compare these trash hits, which have become the pathetic norm in the music industry, to the Miss America contestants posing innocuously and healthily in their bikinis – something any person who has visited the beach or local swimming pool has seen. Then ask yourself which spectacle is more harmful to the advancement and empowerment of women. Yet very few people seem to care about the inane, sex-drenched message that the music industry is promoting to millions of girls and young women on a daily basis. Personally, I find that very strange.
At this point, we must take this insanity to its inevitable conclusion, because once you start riding the wild tiger of censorship there is no getting off: cosmetics, Hollywood, commercials, music, it all has to go. In fact, when you get right down to it, every industry is loaded with sexual messages and innuendos. We must eradicate every single product or message that invokes sexuality or stirs the libido. Yes, even the cut that will hurt the most: the termination of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Are we really prepared to attempt the greatest revolution of all, which will require men and women to play make-believe as they attempt to convince themselves that sexual attraction and physical beauty is no longer a thing?
The irony of America and its recent efforts to censor anything that elicits the smallest amount of personal discomfort – from a controversial speech on campus to a female beauty pageant – is that it is actually starting to resemble the very same repressive countries – many of them located in the Islamic world – that the US loves to lecture and condemn.
Today, Americans are on a slippery slope as they attempt to outdo each other in a moral crusade that seeks to prevent anyone from thinking the wrong thoughts. If they are not careful, Americans will end up inheriting a cross between the 1979 Iranian Revolution, complete with its fiercely moralistic stance on many secular issues, with the world of Orwell’s 1984, where the thought police knew what everybody was thinking and doing any minute of the day. In this weird Weinsteinian world we now inhabit, we know all too well what happens to the suspects – even without the decency of a fair trial: innocent until proven guilty.
Is the next stop on this out of control, all-American Cultural Revolution full body burqas replacing the two-piece bikini on Malibu Beach? To be honest, nothing would really surprise me at this point.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.