Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Man, Woman or Other: Miss Universe Pageant

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It's a mixed up muddled up, shook up world
Except for Lola, L-L-Lola

-"Lola" The Kinks
What does it mean to be a man or a woman? For me it's pretty simple. Either you were born with a set of XX chromosomes or a set of XY chromosomes. There are other obvious biological differences and of course a tremendous number of environmental differences which may cause and/or be caused by the biological differences. Other environmental differences may be totally arbitrary. There are some people who don't fit into this basic binary pattern but for the overwhelming majority of humanity, man or woman is a baseline accurate though incomplete description of who they are. I don't believe this is all that fiendishly complicated, really I don't.

So when someone has gone through the time and trouble to set up a beauty pageant specifically to celebrate, enjoy and judge female beauty, I don't think it's too much to ask that the would be contestants, actually, well be FEMALE.  Looking for the male beauty pageant? Take a left at the next light, drive two miles down and on the passenger's side you'll find the gathering for the male beauty pageant right beneath the giant sign marked "Who gives a rat's $$$?". But times change and apparently at least one pageant will now let transgender "women" compete. Imagine that.

The Miss Universe organization announced Tuesday it is ending its ban on transgender contestants after coming under scrutiny recently when a Canadian competitor was told she would be disqualified because she was born male.
 Miss Universe officials insist the change is in spite of, not because of, legal threats from women's rights lawyer Gloria Allred made on behalf of contestant Jenna Talackova. 
"We made the decision two days before we even heard that (Allred) was involved," pageant owner Donald Trump told CNN Monday. "Had I known she was involved, maybe I wouldn't have made that decision because she's easy to beat."  
Allred launched a blistering attack on Trump at a news conference a week ago, saying his pageant had no right to question Talackova's sexuality. "She did not ask Mr. Trump to prove that he is a naturally born man or to see photos of his birth to view his anatomy to prove that he was male," Allred said. In a Twitter posting Monday, Trump called Allred a "third rate lawyer" who "actually hurts Jenna." "Is Gloria a man or a woman????---- few men would know the answer to that one," Trump tweeted in a personal retort to Allred.
Kate Upton and Ariel Meredith are both attractive women. But only one of them would have been eligible to compete for Miss Black America if she so chose. An avowed atheist won't be able to lead the local Bible reading club. If you can't read music or play an instrument you can't be first violin in an orchestra. Men's heavyweight boxing is for male professional athletes above a certain weight. If you're a man, don't bother asking to join the Belizean Grove.
And so on. Sometimes certain characteristics, even if they are biologically set, really are essential to a particular job, association or social exercise. If a heterosexual man asks a buddy to set him up on a blind date with someone who is good looking, young and attractive he is not going to be happy if he shows up for the date and another man is sitting across the table from him. It doesn't matter that the other (gay) man may be good looking, young and attractive; he's not a woman and is thus excluded from a heterosexual man's realm of romantic possibility. That's not discrimination, or at least not the kind that ought to be illegal, shunned or discouraged. Now would anyone take seriously a complaint of discrimination from the gay man in this situation? I would certainly hope not.
I think there are some people that are literally hellbent on making everyone else accept their definition of themselves at all costs. You can call yourself whatever you like and I don't mind. You can alter your body to add or remove things at your pleasure and I'll cheerfully defend your right to do so. It should go without saying that I don't support calling people nasty names or committing or tolerating violence against them for their appearance or the choices that they make. We're all imperfect humans trying to make our way in this world. It's a free country. Rock on with your bad self! Wave your freak flag high! Live your life exactly how you want to!
But if you ask me to pretend that a man is a woman or vice versa I won't do that. If you wish to live by a set of delusions, fine. But don't think you can make me do so.
There are already beauty contests for transgender people. There is no need for a transgender person to try to crash someone else's contest. I don't see such things as a struggle for rights so much as I see them as (per Reg in A Life of Brian) a struggle against reality.  Not everything is for everybody. Pretending that a man who surgically and chemically altered his body to possess natural female secondary sex characteristics is a "woman" makes about as much sense as pretending that Sarah Silverman is black. You can do so if you want to but just leave me out. I think such things are thoroughly ridiculous and do violence against language, logic and simple common sense. But that's just me. What are your thoughts?

1) Should beauty pageants have the right to limit entry based on biological sex?
2) Are beauty pageants even relevant in 2012?
3) Should Gloria Allred have "ambulance chaser" and "professional virago" engraved on her business cards?
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