Gabriela spoofs Miss Universe pageant to bash economics hurtful to poor
MANILA — As candidates of this year’s Ms Universe competition made a courtesy call to President Duterte in Malacañang on Monday afternoon, members of the Gabriela women’s group held their own pageant in the morning, voicing out the “unglamorous” and “exploited” plight and state of women today.
Dubbed as Ms Neolibers 2017, a spoof of the 65th Ms Universe competition, five women—Ms ENDOnasya, Ms Noland, Ms Demolition Republic, Ms Saudi ArabYAYA and Ms Eskwela LumPOOR waved their hands, flashed their biggest smiles and walked with their sashes at the Gabriela headquarters in Quezon City, representing the key issues plaguing the women and their children today.
“While the Ms Universe corporate sponsors rake in profits from beauty contests, we call on the attention of people to the neoliberal economy, an even larger global competition that renders billions of women and children slaves to hunger, war and suffering in the Philippines, and other countries,” said Joms Salvador, Gabriela Alliance of Women secretary-general, in a statement.
Clad in simple dresses, T-shirts, jeans, but definitely not stilettos, the candidates answered during the mock question and answer portion with key Gabriela officers serving as their interpreters. A talent portion — a group dance number — followed after.
Echoing the contestants, Gabriela Partylist Representative Emmie de Jesus cited minimum wage, contractualization, poor health services, true land reform, gendered wage equality, and the several instances of rape, harassment and bullying against women, and the cases of women who lost their husbands and children to relentless killings in the country nowadays.
Ms Universe and Trump
The mock pageant conference was staged to drumbeat the annual One BIllion Rising Campaign to end violence, and as a support to the protests against US President Donald Trump, led by millions of women in the US worldwide, De Jesus said.
“Our objective is to show the real state of Filipino women. That its real cause is the government’s neoliberal policies and especially now that Donald Trump is US’s new president. Historically, Trump profited from the Ms Universe pageant. We can show the real plight of women by exposing the real people who benefit from it. The bottom line (of beauty pageants) is still profit, the capitalist and the businessmen,” she added.
Monique Wilson, director of One Billion Rising Campaign, said they have been fighting against the exploitation of women.
“Ms Universe is a symbol of exploitation to women. Aside from economic exploitation, there’s commodification and objectification as well. They are being sold, being used for profit, and were made objects. It’s not that we are against beauty. We are against the beauty standards they set that are unrealistic,” she said.
De Jesus, in a statement, also slammed business groups such as Philippine Airlines and SM Group of Companies “for banking on the world’s biggest woman pageant to cover up their anti-women record.”
“It is ironic that PAL and SM are bannered in Miss Universe events when these corporations discriminate against women,” she said. PAL, she said, pushed for compulsory retirement of female attendants at age 55 when the standard mandatory age for retirement has always been 60. She added PAL discouraged their flight attendants from marrying. SM, meanewhile, has been ‘notorious’ for the hiring of thousands of underpaid contractual salesladies, according to De Jesus.
The vice chair of House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, De Jesus said Filipino migrant workers have remained in slave-like jobs for decades. She cited as example the case of Irma Jotojot who died in Saudi Arabia last year. In the country also, 22 women and children are raped everyday, according to De Jesus.
Ms Endonasya talked about contractualization, which Duterte earlier promised to abolish; Ms Eskwela Loompoor cited the problems of the K-12 system and education; Ms Demolition Republic stressed the unfair demolition orders on informal settlers, while Ms Saudi ArabYaya discussed the plight of OFW workers who were abused and killed outside the country. “Before, OFWs bring home balikabayan boxes, now cold bodies of OFWS are being brought home in boxes,” Ms Saudi ArabYaya, greeting the audience, said.
Ms NoLand who talked about land grabbing issues and problems of farmers, made the audience smile with her witty words of wisdom: “May kasabihan po tayo, na kung ano ang itinanim, ay siya ring aagawin.”
At the end of the pageant-like press conference, nobody ended winner.
“We are unfortunate that nobody won. The real winners in pageants are big businesses hosting the pageant, the franchise holders… They are the real winners. We do not win in neo-liberalism. We do not win in exploitation, Salvador said.
“Women are not empowered by making them a spectacle in the crowd,” De Jesus, in a statement, added. SFM
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