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Child beauty pageants or child abuse?
A day never passes without stories about some form of child abuse. Indeed, in recent years anyone involved formally in the lives of young children — for instance teachers, carers or welfare workers — must report suspected child abuse. Failure to report a suspicion of, or knowledge about, an instance of abuse makes anyone of us legally complicit.
As a teacher, what then do I do about the information regarding a Child Beauty Pageant planned in Melbourne this July by the company Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant? Is it child abuse? Do I suspect that this may be a case of child abuse? As a reasonable and responsible adult I think that I would have to argue an overwhelming “ yes.”
Contest organisers are promoting their money-grubbing market aesthetic as “ confidence building.” Corporations are forcing babies and little girls to perform dance routines loaded with “ adult concepts” and posture in clothing and heavy make-up, so they can be deemed “ beautiful.” Surely this activity is child pornography?
The unhealthy emphasis on stereotyped body appearances created in the computers of the fashion industry is a manifestation of our narcissistic culture. These contests are body snatching of different kind. Very little girls in beauty pageants and the culling of their teenage counterparts to feed the insatiable appetite of the fashion industry are just two extremes of a cultural norm. “ Respectable” high-gloss fashion magazines also engage in these perverse games of “ kiddydult” dress-ups.
So ubiquitous is this unhealthy current in our society that some schools are using a teenage self-esteem program for girls, called “ Shine.” Promoted as wholesome by the Hillsong Church, its proponents argue that money, manicures and make up “ are all a gal needs to feel good.” Sounds more like a first step into prostitution. I encourage you to put a motion at your next party, union branch or community organisation meeting condemning such practices and calling for legislative measures against future pageants for children. For a copy of a sample motion, contact the Freedom Socialist Organiser or get in touch with me directly.
You can also support the petition condemning this practice at: www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Stop-Child-Beauty-Pageants-in-Australia/
Peter Curtis, Canberra
Peter is an activist and member of the Australian Education Union. You can contact him at email@example.com
Response to FSP statement
Stop the US/UN War against Libya!
The U.S. and other European powers didn’ t enter Libya motivated by humanitarian concerns for the lives of civilians. But the UN action saved many thousands of lives in eastern Libya and was therefore justified. Considering that any aid the left could offer would be inadequate in helping out the rebels and that boycotts or protests would be ineffectual in stopping massacres, something needed to be done quickly. The FSP has made an error in equating Libya with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Libya is not the same situation: there has been a popular uprising. That revolt risked being wiped out by Gaddafi’ s better-armed forces. The rebel leadership appealed for limited outside help, but didn’ t want extensive external intervention in their freedom struggle. They are being very careful about the aid they receive and on what terms. The rebel alliance is obviously mindful about the West’ s past colonial role in the Middle East and particularly wary of interference in Libya. Any revolution perceived by the Libyan people to be imposed by imperialist forces will not succeed.
The rebel call for intervention by these countries was in reality a choice between the lesser of two evils. Sometimes in life it comes down to these types of life or death choices. The Gaddafi regime is the main problem at the moment: other things must be sorted out later. Of course the U.S. and the other major powers are the enemies of the Libyan people, but it a matter of being practical and having priorities.
We cannot let the Libyans be massacred and defeated. Their defeat would also dishearten other revolts going on in the region and elsewhere. Let’ s support the struggling Libyan people and not make premature decisions.
Steven Katsineris, Hurstbridge
Editor’ s response: Thanks to Steven for his comments on FSP’ s statement No foreign takeover of the Arab revolutions! Stop the U.S./UN war against Libya! issued 20 March 2011. We characterise the bombing of Libya as “ an opportunistic move by Western powers, above all the U.S., against the democratic uprisings shaking North Africa and the Middle East.”
We argue that there is no such thing as a good imperialist war. History shows that the imperialists defend their own interests and will not side with liberation. The U.S. and its allies want to find an alternative to Gaddaffi who will uphold the capitalist status quo. The Libyan people need support from other working people to improve their immediate prospects, not phony imperialist friends.
The statement can be read at www.socialism.com/drupal-6.8/?q=node/1616 or call if you wish to receive a copy by mail.