Miss Shorewood must be reformed

BY THE RIPPLES EDITORIAL STAFF —

Rather than incessantly quibbling over the morality of canceling Miss Shorewood, SHS should really focus on what the issue says about our ideology. Shorewood prides itself on being a progressive and accepting community, and Miss Shorewood reflected that in some ways. For example, the event unified the school in support of fighting cancer and improving the lives of others.

However, not everyone sees Miss Shorewood in this positive light. Both feminists and LGBT rights activists raised concerns.

Feminists were offended by the use and encouragement of gender stereotypes in order to make more money. Contestants who went so far as to lift their skirts or perform strip teases received catcalls and cheers, in addition to higher bids. Other contestants portrayed hackneyed caricatures of beauty pageant participants, including one stupid blonde girl. The glorification of gender stereotypes as a means of comic relief is offensive and harmful, regardless of how much money it raises for a good cause.

Supporters defended Miss Shorewood by claiming to be making fun of beauty pageants rather than women. In reality, it is impossible to use gender stereotypes without oppressing women.

LGBT rights activists raised similar issues. Transgendered students felt ostracized by analogous stereotypes, including a masculine German woman who frequently shouted, grunted and stomped around the stage.

The intent of Miss Shorewood was not to harm anyone; in fact, it was quite the opposite. However, in actuality, Miss Shorewood was oppressive because it is impossible to simultaneously stereotype and empower a group of people.

Both feminists and LGBT rights activists were also offended by the auctioning aspect of Miss Shorewood. In the past, women were objectified in the most literal way possible through marriage and the dowry. Although a transgendered man started Miss Shorewood, he never intended it to raise money, but rather to raise awareness of transgendered discrimination. Miss Shorewood, in its current state, objectifies both women and transgendered people by literally auctioning them off to other students.

Supporters also defended the deeply inset tradition Miss Shorewood carries. But if Shorewood is as progressive as it claims to be, we would not let the fear of change justify the oppression of even one person.

The fact of the matter is, Miss Shorewood can come back the instant it can be done without offending and oppressing people. This seems impossible without intensive regulation that would stunt its creativity and improvisational nature, or case-by-case regulation which would inevitably result in disagreements over whose performance was offensive or who should have been punished.

Miss Shorewood raised $1200 in 2012 and $1800 in 2013, more than any other SHS fundraiser. Supporters claim we will never be able to create a new fundraiser that can raise as much money in one night, but this claim is dubious. The Mac N’ Cheese fundraiser raised $600 this year on its first try, and it was far from perfect. Once its flaws are improved and its popularity is increased, the Mac N’ Cheese fundraiser will have the potential to make a substantial amount of money. Combined with the multitude of new fundraisers this year, SHS should either break even or make more money than Miss Shorewood raised in previous years.

Miss Shorewood in its current form is unable to raise money without offending and oppressing people. If Shorewood is as progressive, accepting and loving as we claim to be, we will keep Miss Shorewood cancelled until it can be executed in a non-offensive, non-oppressive, non-stereotypical way.

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