Feminist activists stress that women are ugly and stink
My undergraduate alma mater, the Charles University in Prague (founded in 1348), is witnessing a battle whose main spark is the Miss Charles University contest. Visit MissUK.CZ for the official web page of the contest, with some photos, trailer etc. I hope that the British readers will understand that the primary meaning of the UK acronym is "Univerzita Karlova" rather than some hypothetical faraway island or islands or whatever else it could be. ;-)
Well, there's actually a competing contest of the same kind, Miss Karlovka, too.
Markéta Majerová (23, Faculty of Philosophy, Didactics), the #1 contestant, was told to explain what improvements she would like to see at the university. She answered: "My fellow students, ask not what your university can do for you, ask what you can do for your university." Be careful during your visit to Dallas, Markéta! ;-) See the Miss UK YouTube channel and e.g. Dana Halušková's "muse" video similar to the one above.
The name "Miss Charles University" itself is being contested. The official university potentates shouted they had nothing to do with the beauty contest (or contests). They haven't done anything substantial to stop them, either. Some media write that it's not a contest organized by the Charles University. I think that this comment is already misleading; it is not a contest organized by potentates at the Charles University but many of the organizers, supporters, and all contestants belong to the body of students and alumni of the Charles University and every student of the university may compete. So it arguably is a contest of the Charles University, just one closer to the grassroots than the astroturf.
OK, the contest would proceed as an informal commercial event overlapping with the Charles University in the general sense but lacking an official endorsement. Two decades ago, when I was an undergraduate student, I wasn't aware of such a contest. I was an admirer, to understate it just a little, of some girl or girls at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics and I am still convinced that they would have had big chances to succeed in similar contests.
At any rate, the contest has been challenged more aggressively, by a petition penned by some feminists and similar activists:
The complainants also boast that in the West, their feminist comrades have succeeded in destroying similar contests in the past. Nice job!
The complaints about the "trademark" are somewhat confusing. The contest may be renamed but whatever the name is, they are undoubtedly allowed to declare that it is a contest open to the students of the Charles University. I can't imagine how a gang of frigid feminists or even the rector could possibly prevent someone from organizing such a contest.
Is the contest focusing on the appearance of the students? Well, to a large extent, it is. After all, it is a Miss contest – which is largely understood as a (physical) beauty contest. On the other hand, a university edition of such a contest has the highest chance – and this chance seems to have turned into reality – to present some young women who are beautiful not only physically or, to say the last, young women who are not the same kind of idiots as those in the Miss USA contest, for example.
The physical appearance undoubtedly influences most men but the organizers might be surprised to learn that many men (also) do care about the women's soul and intelligence. The very fact that the contestants already attend the most famous Czech university suggests that they have passed a basic filter in this case – and many of them could pass much more than just a basic filter. And yes, some of the contestants could have trouble in the generic, inclusive Miss contests due to their (sometimes arbitrary) "strict criteria" on the physical parameters etc. and the enhanced focus on the non-physical virtues in the Miss UK contest is exactly what may help them to succeed. So the Miss UK contest is a tool to reduce the overly simplistic, primitive stereotypes that are being enforced by the general society and the inclusive, nation-wide Miss contests.
The subtitle of this blog post, "Feminist activists stress that women are ugly and stink", was borrowed from essayist Jiří X. Doležal who wrote a similar text for the Reflex Magazine. He's decidedly anti-feminist and focuses on the feminists' claim that women shouldn't be represented as something that is physically beautiful (the female beauty is a gender stereotype!). He disagrees with that and guesses what are the reasons why the feminist organizers want to present women in their negative way (you may guess what is the reason).
Thank God, most of the essays about this topic seem to disagree with the authors of the letter. The balance may be different than in the Western countries that have never experienced communism but you shouldn't think that we're "fundamentally different". Any kind of a person – feminists of any kind, for example – may be found in Czechia, too.
A hundred of students signed the anti-beauty-contest letter to the rector Dr Hampl. I decided to look at the first student associated with "my" faculty, the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics. I found two men and one woman, Ms Jana Glivická. She's doing some information theory or something like that – she's been apparently doing the same thing at the Faculty of Philosophy before that. But if you check YouTube, you will notice that she's been active in numerous extreme left-wing events. For example, she's been no less than the spokeswoman of the "No to Bases" movement that opposed the construction of the U.S. missile defense radar in the Brdy Hills near Pilsen, a project I was enthusiastically supporting, of course.
You also find videos in which she actively promotes the Czech translation of the book "The Origin of Capitalism" by Marxist historian Ellen M. Wood (the book argues that the evil of capitalism was created when "some conditions allowed the market to compel the people to follow its dictate or perish" – this crank apparently thinks that before capitalism, people couldn't perish). You should have no doubts that she belongs to the most left-wing 0.1% of the population. I guess that this description may hold to many supporters of the letter. It's probably no coincidence that the letter paints any commercial subject as "trash".
These opponents of the beauty contest want to prevent the pretty girls at the Charles University from displaying (and perhaps benefiting from) their visual virtues. That's not what the students should be allowed to do, we hear. But let me ask a question: In that case, should the students be encouraged or allowed to speak on behalf of NGOs whose goal was to hurt the Czech-American relations? To mindlessly promote written Marxist trash? To organize movements that try to reduce the freedom of others?
Make no mistakes about it: I am sure that many of the things that the contestants are doing in/after the Miss Charles University contest have nothing to do with the essential reasons of the university's existence. But these young women are still free individuals who can do things unrelated (or very loosely related) to their studies, too. If we agree that Marxists and feminists have the right to question someone's right to display their beauty, others must also have the right to display their beauty.
If the Charles University finds it OK for its female students to grow into repulsive frigid bureaucrats who love to invent propagandist clichés and tricks to reduce their classmates' success (and Ms Givická is arguably learning to be a truly obnoxious and distasteful bureaucrat of this kind), the university should also find it OK for the students to walk in a swimming suit and record completely positive pro-university, pro-knowledge, pro-education, pro-Prague videos like the videos above.