Sunday, May 06, 2012

Project 52 (18/52): On The Ms. Universe Conundrum (And Why Miriam Quiambao Should Shut It)

.:Project 52 (18/52): On The Ms. Universe Conundrum (And Why Miriam Quiambao Should Shut It):.

All hail homophobia!

The last time Miriam Quiambao was relevant, she was down on her knees. Now, before I make a wildly sexist joke and thus make this blog an unsafe place for women, I think I’ll leave my opening statement at that.

In a completely surprising and unexpected move, Donald Trump recently announced that Ms. Universe will start allowing transgendered women to join the pageant beginning next year. That sounds mighty progressive, until you realize that one, you have to be legally a woman in your country of origin to be allowed to join, and two, if you’re past 27, married, or with child, you’re SOL as far as joining Ms. Universe.

Not that there should be anything ascendant about joining a beauty pageant, what with it being the continued upholding of patriarchal conceptions of beauty and empty motherhood statements reflexive of beliefs born from indoctrination. I wouldn’t outright say it’s exploitative (Even some feminists might debate that it’s fine if the woman really wanted to join one.), but I sure as Hades wouldn’t call it liberating or empowering. Only in co-opting the system and making it work to their advantage could something like Ms. Universe be liberating or empowering, and not the system itself.

Last Tuesday, I had an interesting conversation about this with Chuck Gomez, a member of the LGBT community, who spoke about the topic with a clear measure of disinterest. First of all, he pointed out that this discussion, as far as the Philippines is concerned, is completely moot: transgendered women are not legally recognized as women in the Philippines, so there is no way we would be sending any transgendered Ms. Universe delegates for a loooong while, what with the RH Bill still up for debate to this very moment.

So really, how progressive is this move by Donald Trump anyway? And how meaningful is it, in the long run, when after everything has been said and done, Ms. Universe is a private entity or foundation, and can make the rules as it pleases? If Trump declared tomorrow that female pigs could join Ms. Universe, who can stop him, really? It’s his show, it’s his foundation, it’s his money. What we think about who should and shouldn’t be allowed in the competition is just irrelevant after everything has been said and done.

Despite that, what is relevant though, is that this discussion has been a futile distraction of what is clearly a first world problem: a nation like Canada, with its superb health care and its standard of living, can afford to answer questions about whether or not a legally recognized transgendered woman has any right to join a beauty pageant. In the Philippines, a transgendered woman who has to live with a predominantly Catholic mindset that coins patronizing statements to justify their discrimination against her lifestyle, wouldn’t even bother thinking about whether or not she can legally join Bb. Pilipinas, when she has to worry about feeding her family first, and worrying about daily oppression for her sexual orientation or the fact that she used to biologically be a man.,

Ever noticed that there is no single secular reason to be homophobic? It happens in nature. It happens without any statistical risk to forever preventing a species from propagating because everyone happened to be homosexual. Only when you use religious reasoning does homophobia become a tangible concept, and being in the Philippines, it makes you wonder why we are using a supposedly loving and almighty God to justify our hating people for what they do in their bedroom.

As far as I’m concerned, the issue of Ms. Universe is a question we really shouldn’t even waste time asking about. Truth be told, when it has zero effect on us because our laws don’t recognize the transgendered as women, when our own level of progressiveness is nowhere near many of the Western nations we just blindly aspire to emulate, then maybe the right question to ask is: what is beautiful, really? Is it the patriarchal conceptions we attach to these pageants, akin to how dog shows grade dogs based on hard and fast criteria based on the expected look of their breed?

And really, when it comes to Miriam Quiambao, I honestly don’t have anything good to say about her at this point, particularly because for the longest time, it boggles my mind how easy it is for people to pick and choose which verses of the Bible should be taken literally and which shouldn’t. We’ve seen this argued or even joked about so many times already, but the Bible also prohibits eating shrimp, planting two different crops on the same soil, interwoven and mixed fabrics, and recommends a lot of stoning to death for people who break a lot of these laws.

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