Why expect that the sexism manifested on the street will be left at the door of the Cultural Centre?

Dear Editor,

The writer of the article ‘Rafieyah Husain wins disappointing Miss Guyana World Pageant’ in the SN of May 31, 2014 laments, “It was disheartening to hear Guyanese hurl out comments such as, ‘Watch Fat Girl!’ and ‘Her body just looks wrong!’ and laugh loudly and cruelly as the contestants walked around the stage in their swimsuits.”

There is a sadness here in the contradiction, that apparently there is some expectation that the manifestations of sexism on the street would be left at the door of the nice Cultural Centre when people go for a night out.

There is a large investment in beauty pageants in Guyana and there are myths being created that the pageants help to ‘uplift’ women. But uplift women how and through what means?

Surely the patrons who voice their opinions loudly are using the same beliefs that the polite judges (which included a few years ago a Minister responsible for the well-being of women) when they assign their scores on sheets and ‘Watch Fat Girl’ is turned into a low score according to the appropriate criterion?

Is there any connection between the intensity of how we want to use women’s bodies to ‘market’ Guyana and the intensity of gender based violence? How are we supposed to achieve gender equality when one gender is going to be pressured into ideas of what is beautiful, whether on the street or on the pageant platforms, and then be subject to the judging whether in harassing comments or in the scores?

Some sections of the media reported the joy of the cheerleaders practising for the Limacol CPL.

How did West Indian cricket change so that after years of men and women finding ways to enjoy cricket and have fun and party, now apparently young women are needed to add to this if only to reinforce the sexist stereotypes where women are on the margins supposedly ‘cheering’ on the men? Does Limacol plan to have a woman CPL with men who have what it takes dancing and so on to urge on the players and the crowd?


Yours faithfully,
Vidyaratha Kissoon

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