Cyreenik Says

June 2018 issues

What do #MeToo and McCarthyism have in common?

What do #MeToo and McCarthyism have in common?

Both are about shaming people for deeds committed decades earlier. And these deeds were committed in times that had different cultural mores than those of the contemporary times when the shaming is being done.

In the case of McCarthyism the US was experiencing its Second Red Scare. This was happening just after World War Two, a time when the USSR (Russia) was transforming from an ally against Hitler into the big Cold War enemy. As this was happening those people who had been Communists or friendly with Communists were now shamed in various ways that carried a lot of teeth -- prosecutions and black listing were the highest profile ways.

Again, what had changed were cultural mores. In the Great Depression era trying to fix the economy was Issue Number One, and while the communists were obnoxious they were just one of many organizations offering solutions. In the World War Two era they were allies against the bigger threat: Fascism, Nazism and Hitler's armies.

Then... Poof! The Cold War era began and these people were now suspicious friends of the new Enemy Number One: the USSR and its virulent Communism. It was quite a change and the shaming was a case of applying the new current mores to the quite different environments of twenty and thirty years earlier.

The #MeToo movement is doing the same thing: it is applying today's mores to situations that occurred twenty and thirty years ago when mores were different. And like McCarthyism it is applying serious social shaming.

McCarthyism was vigorous for about ten years, then steadily declined in impact for another ten. Now we get to see for how long the #MeToo movement retains its clout.

Times are certainly changing: the Miss America pageant without beauty?

My goodness! How times are changing. Now the Miss America pageant is succumbing to the #MeToo and cultural correctness movement. ...Not too surprising, I guess, since it is already a relic with diminishing popularity. The interesting question now is: will this change be a success, as in, will this new style show harmonize with changing cultural values and become widely popular again? Or will it become a failure that becomes an icon for the #MeToo movement overreaching itself?

That said, I miss objectified women. I find that when I casually look around a crowd of strangers those women are certainly the most fun to admire. I like it when they flaunt their stuff in simple, natural-looking ways -- elaborate fashion magazine-style fashion feels as interesting as feminism.

Another interesting question this brings to the fore is how much American women are going to follow Islamic women in their approach to appearance? The goal of #MeToo and Islam both seem to be having men not looking at women. Is that really what we, American men and women, want?

This 6 Jun 18 Economist article, Miss America wraps up A beauty pageant that no longer judges contestants on their looks, talks about this change.

From the article, "ON JUNE 5th Miss America announced that it would ditch the bikinis and become a “competition”, rather than a pageant. “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” announced Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of Miss America’s board of directors."

Update: This 8 Jul 18 WSJ article, Miss America Organization Split by #MeToo Era Swimsuit Decision Nearly half of state pageant leaders call for Gretchen Carlson’s ouster as chairwoman by Valerie Bauerlein, goes in depth about the heated discussion within the Miss America organization on this choice.

From the article, "Miss Tennessee pageant’s co-executive director Allison DeMarcus said she and other state pageant directors were told on a late March conference call with longtime Miss America board member Regina Hopper before the vote that no television partner would want to be associated with a swimsuit competition, given the sensitivities of the #MeToo era. Ms. Hopper became the organization’s chief executive in May."

But... others quoted in the article dispute this claim, indicating that the organization is in deep chaos.

This 3 Aug 18 WSJ article, Miss America’s Finances Uncertain as It Fights for Relevance Organization hasn’t signed any new sponsors amid falling viewership and upheaval over swimsuit decision, email scandal by Valerie Bauerlein, describes how tangible these challenges are, and has some good background.



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