The Women’s March Scandal and The Miss Universe Bullies

17.12.18

Two separate scandals have taken place in the past week that prove the craziness of 2018 will not finish a minute sooner than 11.59pm on the 31st of December. If you thought things were cooked already, keep reading.

First there was Tablet magazine, an online news source dedicated to jewish journalism, who published a lengthy article on their website last Monday outlining what they called “the shameful behaviour by the founders of the Women’s March movement that would be buried like a family secret for two years before anyone would speak about it.” Tablet’s exposè boldly accused co-chairs Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory of antisemitism and mismanagement. If you have time to read the entire piece I would highly recommend it, but in essence this is what happened:

On January 21st 2017, over a million women marched on Washington – and then around the world in sister marches – one day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. It was a direct response to Trump’s brazenly misogynistic presidential campaign. And there were two key women who received most of the praise: co-chairs of the Women’s March organisation, Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory. According to sources quoted in the Tablet piece, soon after the organisation’s inception there were concerns about it’s leaders. In particular, many of those involved with the group began questioning why – out of all the diverse women who had offered to help and lead  – power had instead been delegated to a small handful of women with personal ties to each other, who were roughly the same age, and who would go on to openly profess their admiration for the anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic Nation of Islam preacher Louis Farrakhan. The first antisemitism incident took place during a meeting in mid-November 2016, when the two women made a generalized statement about how Jewish people were exploiters of black and brown people. On a separate occasion after the inaugural march in 2017, Perez and Mallory were seen “berating” another organizer, Vanessa Wruble, for being Jewish.

But it seems this is now only the tip of the iceberg for some very dodgy behaviour. Within months of the Women’s March forming, their leaders were named 2017 Women of The Year by Glamour magazine, they published a glossy book with Condè Nast, did interviews with Vogue and started a lucrative merchandise business selling branded “Women’s March” gear. Did someone say bandwagon? According to The Cut, this exposé is also not the organisation’s first controversy. In January 2017, the Women’s March was criticised for retracting their support for sex workers. I’ll let that one simmer for a moment.

Onto the second scandal of the week, as if it wasn’t bad enough already that the Miss Universe pageant *still exists*, the competition drew some unwanted attention last weekend when three contestants participated in an Instagram Live ahead of the final day of rehearsals in Bangkok, Thailand and were accused of being “racist” and “bigoted“. In the Instagram Live, Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers lets out a peal of laughter as she discusses Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie’s language barriers, “She pretends to know so much English, and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she goes,” said Summers, trailing off as she did an impression of Nie mutely smiling and nodding. Laughing, Summers added,“She’s adorable.” Flanked on either side by Miss Colombia and Miss Australia, Summers then condescendingly reflects on how “confusing” things must be for Miss Cambodia Rern Sinat because she doesn’t speak English either and “not a single other person speaks her language.” “Poor Cambodia,” said Summers. Without even an ounce of sympathy.

The comments have since gone viral, with @Diet_Prada labelling the commentary “normalised xenophobia”, and “the most dramatic reality show condensed into one minute.”

Watching the clips, I hadn’t felt that uncomfortable since season two of RHOBH when Brandi Glanville accused Kim Richards of doing Crystal Meth in the mansion’s bathroom during a girls game night.