Monday, 25 April 2011

'U' is for ... Miss Universe

When I was deliberating my posts for the A-Z challenge, I thought about doing ‘W’ for the Miss World pageant, an event I used to love when I was a little girl in the 70’s. Then, while I was researching I came across a story on the BBC website about Shanna Bukhari, a British Muslim who wishes to represent Britain in the Miss Universe contest despite a huge furore and backlash against her involvement.

Shanna has received racist and abusive messages from:
- Muslim groups claiming she is denigrating the name of Islam.
- White supremacists - saying that an Asian cannot represent the UK.
- Women - who range in their condemnation from those who believe beauty pageants are an affront to feminism and she is demeaning all women, to more vocal shouts of, 'Shame on you, and rot in hell!' - an opprobrium from feminists.

The backlash from women’s groups is nothing new. The decline in popularity and subsequent televising of such pageants was as a result of many women finding the competitions degrading. One of the main reasons some Muslims are angry is that Shanna would have to appear in swimwear in one round of the competition. Islam is clear that a woman should dress modestly and it is not thought appropriate for her to parade herself in a bikini, although I understand she intended to wear a one-piece and a sarong.

Shanna has many supporters from Spain, the Middle East, Pakistan, India and China. Most women supporters say she represents not just a role model for Muslim women, but all those who refuse to be cowed by bullies. ‘Good for you, stand up for yourself, and don’t let anyone dictate what you can and can’t do.’ Why shouldn’t Muslims in the UK be allowed to have a western lifestyle? Why can’t she represent Britain when she was born here and is proud to be British?

It’s a complex issue. And I'm not even going to try and pick apart the arguments as apparently she had had death threats and had to hire a private security firm to protect her. But what strikes me is that society has not progressed since my childhood days when I used to watch beauty pageants. This story highlights the state of multiculturalism in modern Britain and the divisions that still exist along with the lack of social integration, and lack of adhesion between white and coloured people.

During last month's semi-final for Britain's Miss Universe, Shanna Bukhari received the most public votes. Britain has never won the title. It is increasingly possible that its first victor might also be its first Muslim representative, and if she wins, I suspect you will be hearing a whole lot more of her name as the arguments and debates rumble on.

There’s my ‘U’ – Miss Universe.

All I really wanted to know was if you ever watched these pageants in the past?

Until another day
Bye for now


Fennie said...

I have to say I think beauty pageants are a slightly nauseating waste of time. But that said they are (in my view) harmless and if people wish to run then and participate in them within the bounds of public decency then that is entirely their own affair. Good luck to them.

What is sinister are the people who think they 'own' others and have a right to tell them what to do or to say that Britain has to be represented by someone with blond hair and blue eyes.

Good luck to her, I say. May she do well. But don't ask me to watch.

Lucy Adams said...

I'm from the southern United States where beauty pageants are a way of life. We always watched the pageants when I was growing up. I really don't, now.

As to your post, it amazes me that we call ourselves civilized and still treat another person this way. Very sad.


Josh Hoyt said...

I have never watched them before but wow what a lot of opposition she has to go through and yet she remains so elegant and poised.

M.J. Fifield said...

My sister and I used to watch the pageants together when we were younger. We don't watch them now.

I like what Lucy said, that we call ourselves civilized and still treat another person this way. Very sad and yet very true.

Suzanne Jones said...

We used to watch the beauty pageants as a family when I was growing up. I'm old enough to remember Miss Wales winning Miss World in 1974 and being forced to give up her crown a few days later when it was discovered she had a baby son. I'm outraged to find women still being bullied and harassed in our society nearly forty years later. And I'm particularly offended by the racist aspect to Shanna Bukhari's treatment.

I wish Shanna the very best and hope she finds the courage to stick to her plan to enter.

Terrific post Bluestocking Mum.


(And no, I won't be watching.)

Caroline said...

If she wants to do it then she should be able to do it. Who am I to say otherwise. If only others were so accepting ehh? Caroline x

Angela Felsted said...

Ironic that feminist organizations would want to limit a woman's choices.

Good for her for doing what she wants to do!

Bish Denham said...

The universe is a mighty big place. If people can't get it together to be nice to contestants in one's own country I tremble to think how bad it would get if there were contestants from other planets.

Name: Luana Krause said...

I used to watch Miss America when I was in jr high and high school we always rooted for our state. The pageant lost its appeal when I became an adult. I'm not a fan, but I don't judge the women who participate. HOWEVER, I do hate that ridiculous reality show "Toddlers and Tiaras." That is wrong on so many levels.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

I used to watch beauty pageants, but now I don't watch them. Too fake for me.

As for the opposition this woman is receiving, I wish the opposing parties would mind their own business.

It sounds like a very complex issue as you have stated. Death threats??

The world has gone mad. lol :)

Jolene Perry said...

I used to always watch them in high school, now I don't even have TV, so if it doesn't come up on my CNN page, I probably won't hear about it.

And interesting topic all the way around, though.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Being a strong feminist most of my life, anyway since reading Simone de Beauvoir and Germaine Greer, I have not been keen, but when small I remember watching with delight. :0)

Karen Walker said...

I used to watch Miss America when I was a little girl and so wanted to be Miss America. Now I have a different feeling about beauty pageants and don't really think we should be celebrating outer beauty so much. The focus needs to shift on who we are, not how we look. That is so sad about Shanna, though. We've come a long way but certainly not far enough.

M Pax said...

When I was a kid, because there weren't many program choices back then. No cable. :) Not since.

I wish Shanna well though.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

So very happy to meet you. I am looking forward to getting to know you and being your newest follower.
I enjoyed reading your profile and I too am trying my best to write in between everything going on in my life right now. We can encourage each other.
I did grow up watching all of these beauty pageants but no longer do.
I have heard and read how some of these women are treated by sponsors and the other contestants and it makes me wonder how anyone puts their self through this.
Thanks honey for finding me and joining my site

Linda H. said...

We just had a similar situation here in Germany (but more to the extreme). An actress in Germany (from a Turkish family) posed nude in a magazine. Her family disowned her.

Lydia K said...

It's scary that her life has to be in danger for this. I hope nothing horrible happens to her--what a message that would send.

I found you from M Pax's blog. Hi!

Elliot Grace said...

...not much for pageants, Shanna however is beautiful, regardless of how she's portrayed.

Well written post:)


bayou said...

Just catching up, you have written brillant posts and this one makes me thinking, again. If the world and its habitants could be a bit more tolerant. All I blame about religion is that none shows any tolerance to the other. That's why I have no religion but all respect for nature. The "T post" could have been about Tolerance.
I admire how you can keep up your daily posts at that high level, I love the variety of themes and how inspiring they are!

Ellie said...

Personally, I don't watch beauty pageants. But what harm are they doing? None. And who has the right to say who should or should not take part in them? Live and let live, I say.

Ellie Garratt

Rosemary Gemmell said...

As a child, I used to watch Miss World and enjoyed seeing how they were all dressed. Not interested at all now, but I have to agree with Angela about the irony of women's choices still being limited! Great post.