MEXICO CITY – Mexico is considering to hold a parliamentary vote for banning beauty contests in the country because such events are a form of symbolic violence against women.
In a virtual meeting on Friday, the Gender Equality Commission of Chamber of Deputies said its members were working on three aspects: to include symbolic and media violence, gender parity reforms, and consolidate the concept of re-victimization.
In the first, several initiatives were introduced that seek to reform several provisions of a law on a woman’s access to a life free of violence.
The Mexican deputies considered that currently the symbolic violence is exercised “almost usually and conceals power relations,” and added that it could be “much more difficult to eradicate due to difficulty in identifying and naming it.”
These forms of violence “do not use physical force but the enforcement of power and authority and is so subtle that it is acceptable through customs, traditions, and daily practices.”
The members of the commission said the symbolic violence had been naturalized through cultural representation, language, art, theater, cinema, television, jokes, and jests.
“We believe that beauty contests are events (…) which show women through sociocultural standards and under gender stereotypes as an instrument to maintain the concept of a female body as an object. This limits the personal development of the participants,” the members said.
The opinion seeks to define symbolic violence such as expression, broadcast or dissemination by any medium, either through the public or private ambit of messages, patterns, stereotypes, signs, iconic values, and ideas that transmit, reproduce, justify or naturalize subordination, inequality, discrimination, and violence against women in society.
Moreover, in this type of symbolic violence “organization of contests, pageants, or any other forms of competition where gender stereotypes of beauty, the physical appearance of women, girls or teenagers are evaluated in part or fully,” is also expected to be included.
According to the leaders’ intention to vote, public institutions of the country, “will not be able to use public resources, official promotion, subsidies and any kind of economic or institutional support for carrying out these kinds of shows.”
Beauty contests have been popular in Mexico for several decades amid criticism for perpetuating gender stereotypes.