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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 December 2000

Our Bodies - their profits

MISS WORLD will be held in the millenium dome and hosted by Jerry Springer. Ticket prices start from no less than 100 going up to 400 for the night.

Clare James

In 1988 the contest was taken off terrestrial TV as it was 'an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.'

Two years ago channel 5 attempted to resuscitate it.

The contest now has UK audiences of around two million (compared to 27.8 million in 1968) two billion people across 130 different countries, including 96% of India's population watch contenders from around the world, battling it out to be voted as the world's most beautiful woman.

Organisers of the contest are desperately trying to make the contest appear as modern and not sexist by stating that some of the contestants are studying for degrees, some have professional jobs etc. This may be worthy but it is a token gesture to try and claim that it is not just looks that determine the winner. But then why are all of the contestants a certain height no more than a size 10 and generally look the same?

Miss World is an outdated contest, as it objectifies women. Reflecting that even in the year 2000 women are still judged on what their looks rather than what they do. In the workplace women still on average earn only 70% of men's wages.

Miss World and magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire etc along with the fashion industry and cosmetic industry promote a certain 'acceptable' image of women.

Models and TV personalities are getting thinner as the pressure is on from these industries to look a certain way.

There is a huge profit to be made from this, in 1990 the diet industry worldwide was worth $33billion, cosmetics $20billion, cosmetic surgery $300million and the porn industry $7billion.

All making money from women's bodies and low self-esteem, which they help to reinforce. 85% of women worry about their bodies every day and 1 in 25 women aged 35 or under suffer from an eating disorder.

Also the recent spate of men's magazines which are no less than soft porn, such as Loaded, FHM, Maxim etc prove the slogan 'sex sells'. These magazines reinforce the 'ideal' body image of women and how they should behave, and give particularly young men a completely false idea and distort how women should look.

But in the age of girl power, and the growth of the 'Laddette', some say that this industry is not sexist, that we're all having a laugh as we know its not really sexist. If you complain you haven't got a sense of humour as we are living in the age of irony.

The fact is sexism is rife, in the workplace, at home, in schools, colleges, clubs and pubs from the day you are born, it is society that continues to divide women and men down lines of sex.

Capitalism is a system based on power, wealth, hierarchies and competition, this is reflected in personal relationships and in culture generally. It's in capitalism's interests to exploit women's inequalities in order to make huge profits, women are seen as commodities. The sex industry and the media, and Miss World play a big part in this process. They also help to undermine any organised, collective movement of men and women to fight exploitation and oppression.

This is why it is vital all socialisits oppose Miss World, to highlight the continuing divisions and inequality that exist under capitalism. But while we live under capitalism those divisions will still exist in one form or another.

So it is essential that to end oppression of women and also other layers of oppressed across the world this system based on greed, profit and private property is replaced by a system that is based on meeting the needs of everyone. This would economically ensure the needs of women for decent childcare; housing; health and education etc would be met. Based on equality and cooperation, socialism would lay the basis for these values to be reflected in people's personal relationships and in the culture of society generally.

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In The Socialist 1 December 2000:

Stop the Corporate Polluters

Political hot air at the Hague

How to win Fees Battle

Socialist challenges break New Labour's grip

How socialists saw off Labour

Our Bodies - their profits

The Difference between Life and Death

Irish Teachers strike over pay


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