Elisa O’Donovan, Dublin Socialist Youth
UCD Socialist Youth last week set up the Students Against Sexism campaign to protest against the Miss UCD beauty pageant sponsored by UCD Students Union. This beauty pageant is part of the Miss University competition and apart from being sexist, it bans mothers, wives and women under 5ft4 from entering!
The protest held was enormously successful with over 70 students and staff showing their support, along with messages of solidarity from other universities where the pageant had taken place.
The protest began with a speaker from the UCD equality department, highlighting the huge effects beauty pageants have on young women with regards to body image. Second speaker, Ailbhe Smyth, spoke of how acceptable sexism has become in society and how Miss World encourages this as it allows women to be viewed as just objects. The Socialist Youth representative spoke of how the union’s role was to fight for women’s rights on campus, particularly highlighting the lack of decent child care facilities and health facilities on campus. Each speaker was met with a rousing response from the large crowd of students.
Following the speakers there was the Real Miss UCD pageant. All contestants were immediately disqualified as one was too short, the other had two children and the other was too masculine! Eventually a sheep was crowned the real Miss UCD to signify the union following the flock and not standing up for women rights on campus. “There was a great feel about UCD today, students were standing up against discrimination. It was empowering and shows how successful direct action can be” said Sophie Grenham after the demo.
UCD Socialist Youth will now continue its campaign against sexism in UCD and continue the fight to ensure equality for all on campus.