Pageants Don’t Belong at Thacher

By Brooke Porter ’16 – May 14, 2014

On Friday March 21, the Thacher School held its very own Mr. Thacher Pageant.

Male students were encouraged to enter and strut their stuff in front of the school. Contestants were to be judged on their athleticism, formal attire, talents, and thoughtful answers to questions.

What kind of statement does having a male pageant with an athletics portion create?

It supports the idea that males must be athletic in order to be desirable: masculinity is directly connected with athleticism. It’s the equivalent of having a female pageant and including a swimsuit competition or, to be more blatant, a cooking competition. This kind of judging criteria reduces individuals to a generalization rather than a person.

Women’s pageants, like Miss America and Miss Universe, are heavily criticized for reducing women to simple objects to be judged.

Women’s pageants include swimsuit competitions; these are supposed to display a woman’s self confidence, but are really just an opportunity for the public to examine and evaluate a woman’s body. Female pageants support the objectification of women.

Pageants focus on outer beauty and stereotypes rather than inner beauty and the value of a woman’s intellect and other non-physical characteristics.

After Ms. Pidduck’s TOAD talk, Ms. Vickery’s TOAD talk and the recent creation of the Representation Project Club, the voices and ideas of feminism and gender equality are ringing loud in the air.

During her talk, Ms. Pidduck boldly declared herself to be feminist and shattered misconceptions surrounding being a feminist. Ms. Vickery’s TOAD talk encouraged the student body to participate in extraordinary acts and emphasized the importance of gender equality.

The founder of Thacher’s chapter of the Representation Project, Sarah Voss ‘16, stated that the club’s mission is to  “raise awareness about gender inequality,change how people perceive the media, and help people recognize things that they see or hear that are demeaning or harmful to a group of people.”

Yet, despite this call to promote feminism and a better understanding of gender on campus, we turn back the clock several decades just to keep ourselves entertained for a single evening.

I personally do not think there should be a male pageant at Thacher, unless there is the equivalent female pageant. And, since I definitely do not support the idea of creating a Mrs. Thacher pageant; neither should exist.

Gender stereotypes are the foundation of these contests. In order to make it to later rounds, especially in competitive pageants, males and females must fit into a traditional category of attractiveness. Pageants claim that in order to be perfect one must embody the stereotypical version of perfection that is associated with each gender.

I believe that individuality is enough.

Male and female pageants promote gender stereotypes that are not healthy for our diverse and supposedly inclusive community.

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