"Natural Born Females"

Yesterday morning on my way to work (I was running late) I heard a segment on CBC’s The Current about  Jenna Talackova, kicked out of Miss Universe Canada because of “a long term relationship with a Y chromosome”.   Open the Audio here  Starts at about 130.  The show starts with a great interview with Jillian Page who blogs at Trans Talk, then moves on to Michelle Weswaldi Executive Director of the Miss Teen Canada – World Contest (who seems to think that pageants can have any rules they want because they are franchises and the franchisor (I think it might be Trump) sets the rules (11:55); argues pageants have changed a great deal and aren’t what we might think they are; thinks that other contestants might think allowing Talackova would be unfair because there is judging of “physical aspects” – and she is 6 feet tall.  She caps it off with,  “It’s a privately owned company that can set forth whatever rules and regulations they want,” she says (14:57).  That may not be a safe bet, Donald (see Queens U Law Prof Kathy Lahey in this newspaper article re: the application of anti discrimination laws to beauty pageants).

Saving the best for last, Gender Studies Professor at Carleton Patrizia Gentile is an assistant professor of sexuality and gender studies at Carleton University.  She was really superb and so interesting.  Wry, serious, scholarly, and she certainly didn’t let the issue define her conversation, getting in a variety of important points about the relationship between nationalism and beauty contests.  She’s the co author of The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation (UBC Press 2010, with Gary Kinsman) (link is to Yorku libraries).  She has another edited collection forthcoming from U of T Press with Jane Nicholas called Contesting Bodies and Nation in Canadian History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming).  Best of all, you can see her on the web as part of Humber College’s President’s Lecture Series.  Her talk was titled: Tiaras, Bikinis & High Heels:Beauty Pageants & the Myth of the “Perfect” Citizen and was recorded March 31, 2011. Click here to watch (sorry, cannot embed it here).  Gentile’s contribution to The Current made me feel better about caring about discrimination in the context of a beauty contest.  I mean, a beauty contest! It is more than a little bit difficult for me to disentangle my issues about this story.  Still working on it.  Happy to have help from the media, and the academy, though.


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