Their move comes amid global debate about violence against women; some feminists think it’s hypocritical
Some measurements are more important than others.
The bathing suit segment at a recent Miss Peru pageant took an unexpected turn when contestants decided to recite violence against women statistics in their country, instead of their chest, hip and waist measurements, as is often de rigueur. The move comes amid long running debate about whether such competitions perpetuate sexist gender stereotypes and the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal.
The unusual proceedings at the Lima event began with Camila Canicoba, who strutted up front and said: “My measurements are 2,202 cases of feminicide reported in the last nine years in my country.” The bevy of contestants behind her followed suit, reciting data on everything from the number of sex trafficking victims to the percentage of college women assaulted by their partners.
— Amy C (@AmyCoopMayB) October 31, 2017
As the beauty queen hopefuls spoke, the pageant organizers flashed clippings of newspaper stories about violence against women behind them. “There are many women who think their cases are isolated and now they are realizing that they’re not unique, that it’s time to raise their voices,” contest director and former beauty queen Jessica Newton told reporters.
That said, there was some criticism among feminist scholars about discussing such a weighty and emotionally resonant issue during the swim suit proceedings, which have attracted their fair share of controversy. For instance, Miss Teen USA has since shuttered that particular segment of its contest, instead asking contestants to model athletic wear. But others note that this segment was presumably when heterosexual men, who disproportionately perpetrate sexual harassment incidents, pay the most attention.
“Women can walk out naked if they want to. Naked. It’s a personal decision,” Newton said, per BuzzFeed News. “If I walk out in a bathing suit I am just as decent as a woman who walks out in an evening dress.”
In some ways, the Latin American countries are remarkably progressive when it comes to women rights. Among the many females who’ve held paramount political power south of Mexico include Dilma Roussef of Brazil, Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica and incumbent President Michelle Bachelet of Chile. But recent acts of violence against women in Peru—a TV host was famously kidnapped and beaten by an ex-boyfriend in 2012—and the seeming failure of the country’s justice system to punish perpetrators has brought women’s rights issues to the forefront.
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