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June 12, 2024

Mr. Phi Mu perpetuates gender double standard

By CARISSA ZUKOWSKI | October 30, 2014

Beauty pageants have been debated both ways: Some women find them empowering, while others view them as degrading. For some, beauty pageants are a lifestyle and a chance for women of all ages to use their grace, beauty, talents and mind to compete in a single competition. There is a stigma that surrounds the art of pageantry; outsiders often tend to judge contestants as shallow, vain individuals — only concerned with outer beauty. In competitions such as The Miss America Pageant, individuals have the opportunity to show who they are, inside and out, as they are judged in a talent segment, bathing suit segment, Q&A, dance and more. I often ask myself who would want to be judged on how “complete” of a “package” they are, but then I remember that some women find it enjoyable, and to that I say, “You do you.”

However, I would certainly take issue with pageants if they sexualized the women. I would have a problem if the female contestants were asked to give lap dances to male judges or if female contestants were expected to parade around on stage in their underwear. While Phi Mu’s intentions were in the right place with hosting the annual Mr. Phi Mu competition earlier this month, their event is deepening the double standard that society holds for men and women.

Mr. Phi Mu rallies Greeks and athletes, along with other members of the student body, to come together and watch a handful of young men fight for the title of “Mr. Phi Mu.” This year, they raised just under $5,000 for the Katie Oppo Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. I think that this event is a great opportunity for the sisters of Phi Mu to show their support for their late sister, Katie Oppo, and the amount of money they raise from a single event for cancer research is inspiring. But what would the student body say if instead of young men being judged on their looks and their “talents,” it was the female student body up on Shriver’s stage?

Mr. Phi Mu was entertaining and all in good fun; however, if young women had behaved the same way that the male contestants had, would the campus find it funny, or would it stir a feminist outrage? The issue of slut-shaming among women is a hot topic in today’s society. It seems that while men are praised for sleeping around with multiple girls, a girl who behaved in that way would be called a slut. The double standard is an unfortunate reality that troubles many members of Generation Y. Why should women be degraded —  men praised — if the two are performing the same action?

Phi Mu should have been more delicate about the way they presented the Mr. Phi Mu pageant. It is a great idea for a philanthropy event that really engages the student body, but it was too much to have the contestants giving lap dances to sisters and doing squats and push ups with them on their backs. The competition emphasized their ability to win votes using their body. It condones, and even encourages, the objectification of men and people in general. If the roles were reversed, and female students were onstage, the backlash would be palpable. The men hosting the event would be labeled as misogynistic pigs, even if it was for a good cause without the direct intention of exploiting women’s bodies. That being said, we should hold women to the same standards as men and men to the same standards as women. No single individual should be objectified into a sexual object, but the most disturbing part of the situation is the fact that a group of intelligent, poised young women is perpetuating the double standard between men and women. Equality works both ways, and no one likes a hypocrite.

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