(I generally don’t mind using trans individual’s chosen pronouns, but a point is being made about Janet Mock. Explanation is a few paragraphs down.)
This occurred a month ago, so maybe other people already heard the news: Janet Mock, hero of young libfems, judged the Miss USA pageant.
That’s right. Janet Mock, to show how feminist he is, agreed to judge an event the sole purpose of which is to objectify women, because, as Mock tells LGBTQ Nation, “…as a feminist my job is to champion other women and celebrate their choices and dreams. With that said, I am ecstatic to be part of a panel that will help a woman extend her platform and use her voice, her intellect, her personal experiences, and yes, her beauty to shine a light on the issues that matter most to her.”
By the way, Miss USA was once owned by Donald Trump.
This is liberal choice feminism at its lowest. Mock has set back feminism to the 1950s by acting like Miss USA is a neutral choice that does no harm to women as a class. But then, Mock isn’t exactly known for his intellectual ability to perform class-based analysis. He turned bell hooks’ critique of Beyonce into a personal attack on “femmes” everywhere, completely failing to grasp hooks’ point that self empowerment, particularly through pop culture, is not enough to actually create structural change, and thus feminists need to stop putting all their eggs in Beyonce’s feminist basket (to be fair, although Beyonce has said she is a feminist, she has never said she was radical). So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Mock completely fails to grasp how Miss USA and other beauty pageants are terrible for women as a class. Perhaps the fact that a man like Donald Trump owned the pageant should be a hint.
I am using the pronoun “he” to establish that Mock is a male bodied individual who, although he may claim to feel like a woman and to have hated his body growing up, can have no idea what it is like to be born FEMALE, and live your formative years in a FEMALE body that is held to impossible beauty standards while also being hated and degraded by society – and then judged for those standards, which is exactly what he is doing at Miss USA. Being male bodied also explains why Mock thought it okay to entitle his book “Fish Food.” I can’t imagine ANY woman, even the most ardent anti-feminist, not understanding that being referred to as “fish” is completely demeaning and insulting. That is a term meant to elicit shame in females, and Mock, like gay men and other transwomen, can use that term to refer to women and being female because he has no vagina of which to feel ashamed. Similarly, his experience of sex work as empowering is because he does not have a female body nor did he grow up sexualized from a VERY young age. Women don’t need prostitution to be validated by the “objectifying male gaze,” as Mock stated in his book. Women already have that experience and most of us are trying to get away from it. But because Mock’s experience of sex work is that of a male bodied individual looking for sexual validation from men, it should be no surprise that he can’t grasp the harm of prostitution to women as a class.
Of course, his libfem sycophants can’t grasp this either, and that is what concerns me. So many feminists blindly support Mock and other transwomen as feminists simply because they are trans, thus forgiving sins to which men and probably other woman would be held accountable – like calling women fish and now judging a beauty pageant.
Most of the articles on Mock’s judgeship were neutral to supportive, such as providing the above quote and passing it on as a valid feminist statement. It’s not, it’s bullshit that supports an institution beloved by Trump AND his sons. In fact, Bustle went even farther, writing “However, Mock brings a powerful perspective wherever she goes. Her expertise, especially in the areas of trans rights and feminism, will allow her to offer insights that might otherwise be lacking from Miss USA.”
Of course feminist insights are lacking from Miss USA – it is a sexist, antiquated institution. A trans woman showing up doesn’t change anything. And if Mock had any actual expertise in the history of feminism and feminist theory, he would not be judging the Miss USA pageant.
This whole incident sums up not only why trans women aren’t automatically feminist (no one is), but it highlights how little feminism needs trans rights, trans ideology, or trans women to create structural change for women. Instead of critiquing beauty pageants, individuals such as Janet Mock are attempting to validate trans women’s presence in these pageants in order to validate themselves as women – and thus validating the pageants themselves – while completely ignoring the harm done to women as a class. This is anything but feminist. It may validate gender identities, but it does nothing for women’s rights. The first trans woman judge at a beauty pageant only serves to validate trans women as possible “female forms” to be objectified.
I wonder what Mock would think about Beyonce’s video “Pretty Hurts?” You know, the one critical of beauty pageants. Somehow, even Beyonce’s liberal, watered down feminism alludes Mock’s critical thinking skills. Wouldn’t you think, if Mock’ s feminist influence is Beyonce, he would at least understand the message of that video and not judge a beauty pageant?
Will third wave libfems finally disavow Mock and refer to him as incredibly sexist – as they would any other male-bodied individual who defines women by their supposed smelly genitalia, judges a beauty pageant, supports prostitution for minors, and equates the fear to ride down a hill on a bike with being a girl (as he does in his book)? Nope. Apparently, while we use Donald Trump’ s ownership of a beauty pageant as evidence of his misogyny, Mock gets a pass. I don’t care that he feels conflicted…just two years ago this was Trump’ s world, and Mock seems completely unaware that he is now giving support to an institution beloved of a man who stated he would fuck his daughter if they weren’t related.
It is time for feminists to stop giving a pass to trans individuals because they are trans. Mock’ s support of beauty pageants is indicative of a wider trend of of sexualizing girls at a younger and younger age. Miss USA is part of a wider system that includes the toxic “Toddler and Tiaras,” and thus any self-respecting feminist who believes that girls and women should not be treated as sex objects should stay far away from pageants. The sexualizing of young girls in pageants is a form of soft pedophilia, and, in my feminist opinion, the existence of beauty pageants like Miss USA keep child pageants functioning as a means to provide future adult beauty contestants. This is a difficult analytical, class concept to grasp for libfems if, like Janet Mock, they believe “femme” is an actual empowering category and any woman’s choice is feminist.
Towards the end of her article, Bustle author Amy Mackelden states that “In a move that hopefully helps rid the contest of its former shades of sexism, Mock is focusing on the ambitions and dreams of the women taking part.”
How about this dream: society eradictates beauty pageants and women are provided with platforms for their ambitions that don’t involve possible anorexia and fifty pounds of makeup. That used to be a feminist ambition.