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July 27, 1984 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1984-07-27

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Page 6
01he itt-ht-an a atI
Vol. XCIV, No. 29-S
94 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
A defeat for Simpson,
a victory for immigration
FOR A WHILE, it seemed that forces
backing the Simpson-Mazzoli
immigration "reform" bill were going to
prevail. Versions of the bill, which is an
offensive wholesale rewrite of the nation's
immigration laws, had passed both the House
and Senate. The majority in the Senate
seemed unshakeable, and the bill's supporters
included the House's speaker, Tip O'Neill (D-
Mass.). The president had promised to sign
the final product.
And then, miraculously, the sun broke
through the clouds. A combination of the
Congress' byzantine legislative procedures,
Walter Mondale's timely intervention, and
second thoughts at the White House appears to
have stopped the legislation for this term. The
growing public outcry over the bill's
draconian approach to immigration control
seems to have terrified enough politicans to
block any further action on the bill. They don't
want to be reminded about it during the
Their apprehension is understandable, since
Simpson-Mazzoli contains a number of
provisions which raise the eyebrows of even
the most hardened congressional statists. The
bill has drawn harsh yet valid criticism from,
among others:
" civil libertarians, who argue the bill will
quickly create a national identification card
and will effectively require all Americans to
have the permission of the government before
they can work,
" Hispanics, who insist that the criminal
penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens
will - lead to massive employment
discrimination against Hispanics generally,
" business groups, who resent being forced
to act as immigration inspectors in the
workplace, and
" immigration advocates, who denounce the
bill's attempt to severely limit legal
immigration as economic nonsense and as
inconsistent with American traditions.
A combination of these groups, led by the
increasingly powerful House Hispanic caucus,
seem to have achieved an eleventh hour
victory over the bill. But the threat has not
disappeared: Simpson-Mazzoli supporters
have promised to reintroduce the legislation
next term.

Friday, July 27, 1984

The Michigan Daily

Companions in exploitation:
Penthouse and the pageant

By Philip K. Lawes
Not surprisingly, the higher
minds of the Miss America
Pageant have decided that it
simply will not do to have their
reigning beauty-queen exposing
her privates to the world on the
pages of a magazine of dubious
journalistic distinction. To so
allow would damage the pristine
image of the contest, to allow
reality to besmirch the elaborate
charade which the pageant has
been foisting on America for
In the final analysis, the most
reprehensible thing that Vanessa
williams has done is to go
quietly. The public would have
'been better served if she has
chosen to fight, dragging the
issue through the courts, and put-
ting the contest up for
examination in the international
IN THE common perception,
the title of Miss America is a
supreme honor for a woman,
denoting her as the apotheosis of
American womanhood in all
dimensions. She is deemed wor-
thy of emulation by little girls
and the reverent admiration of
It is a tribute to the practice of
public relations that an award
created in the 1920s as a publicity
stunt to extend Atlantic City's
commercial summer season, and
whose primary purpose is now
the year-long promotion of its
sponsor's products, has con-
tinued to be held in such high
In fairness, is must be added
that a Miss America does more
than making more than 100 ap-
pearances for corporate spon-
sors. She also performs
numerous acts of civic good. For
instance, she goes about the
country spouting a line of of-
ficially sanctioned platitudes and
banalities, expounding on topics
such as the superiority of peace
over war, or the joy of living in
typically puts in an appearance
wherever Americans happen to
be fighting and dying during her
reign. Miss williams, for exam-
ple, dutifully trooped to Lebanon
to where U.S. Marines were

ducking to avoid sniper fire.
Finally, apropos of being a
beauty queen, Miss you-know-
which-nation appears on
magazine covers and shares
beauty tips. For example,
Vanessa williams is on record
stating in Essence magazine, "I
try to stay away from red meat."
There is a considerable body of
evidence that the pageant, rather
than being a means of
"celebrating the whole woman,"
is simply a beauty contest, a
human cattle auction, which'
celebrates those aspects of a
woman which are best displayed
in a bathing suit. Surely a swim
suit parade-the highlight of the
pageant-is an inadequate means
of determining a woman's moral
or spiritual worth.
THE PAGEANT rewards con-
formity to certain stringent and
capricious standards of
European beauty to the exclusion
of the inner qualities which make
a woman a human being. A fat
woman with the soul of a poet,
and a deep and abiding faith in
the goodness of humanity, who
excels in law school at night while
digging coal with her bare hands
all day to support her invalid
mother and two younger siblings,
and who has numerous citations
for rescuing infants and small
children from burning buildings,
has a snowball's chance in hell
against the adorable blonde with
perky breasts and a cute tush,
who, after years of strenuous ef-
fort has mastered the discipline
of music sufficiently to be able to
deliver a barely recognizable
rendition of "Feelings" on the
The only difference between
the Miss America pageant and
Penthouse magazine is in degree
of gynecological candor. One
displays its contestants in
relatively conservative one-piece
bathing suits while the other
demonstrates a visual obsession
with the vagina which indicates a
tragically arrested emotional
development, and/or a desire to
be of assistance to even the most
unimaginative of onanists.
Ultimately, however
organizations thrive on the objec-
tification of women, and the ex-
ploitation of women for commer-
cial gain.

The Miss America charade is
even more destructive than the
skin magazine, in that its
hypocrisy is far more subtle and
thus is far more effective in
corrupting the cause of sexual
equality in this country. Bob
Guccione's rationalizations for
Penthouse's existence are
laughably transparent. It is clear
that the magazine caters to
prurient rather than spiritual or
intellectual interests. It is clear
that the women featured there
are in it for the money and
the-pardon the expression-ex-
The beauty pageant legitimizes
a woman's use of her body for
material gain by simply not being
as explicit in its exploitation of
women's sexuality. If a Miss
America title-holder does indeed
serve as a role model, she is in ef-
fect telling girls that it is ad=
mirable to use physical attributes
to succeed in life. Further, it
promotes only those oc-
cupations-such as entertain-
ment and modeling-which
reward physical beauty.
In its glorification of
glamorous, insubstantial oc-
cupations for women the
pageant-and the society which
encourages it-creates intense
pressures on young women to
severely compromise themselves
in the pursuit of goals which very
few of them can achieve. Exam-
ples of such women are not hard
to find: One of them was just for-
ced to give up her crown.
There has been a general out-
pouring of support for Vanessa
williams, a willingness to forgive
her on the grounds that she was
exploited by predators. While
Bob Guccione and Tom Chiapel
are doubtless guilty as charged,
the blame does not rest solely
with them. They are only oppor-
tunists taking advantage of a
society which encourages its
daughters to utilize their bodies
rather than their intellect for
self-advancement. That attitude
will take a great deal of effort to
change, but a general
discrediting of the Miss America
pageant would be a good place to
Lawes is a University



Unsigned editorials appearing
on the left side of this page
represent a majority opinion of the
Daily's Editorial Board.

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