By talking about the issue of sexuality surrounding females (particularly celebrities) in the media, we see the negativity that they face and the double standards that they are held to. Men, obviously are held to certain perceptions of beauty as well, a muscular physique perhaps, but when it comes to sexuality, women are predominantly expected to uphold an ‘image.’
“I haven’t committed a crime”, Zara Holland, former Miss Great Britain told the Sun newspaper, after it came out that the ex-reality show contestant on Love Island had lost her crowning title as the 2015/16 champion, as punishment for not, “upholding responsibility.” And what is this, “crime,” she is being punished for? Burglary? Felony? Actual bodily harm? Grievous bodily harm? No, but for having consensual sex, a perfectly legal thing if you ask the law.
By removing her title, it is not only a reaction that shames a woman for having sex, but reinforces negative expectations on all women in society. It does not just affect one woman; when young girls see how Zara Holland has been treated for using her sexuality in such a way, they start to be conditioned into, ‘self-shaming,’ and placing expectation on themselves as to how not to behave. Zara Holland chose to have sex on the television show, and she should not be shamed or forced to apologise for that as female empowerment over our own bodies and what we do with it should be down to us and no one else.
— Jessica (@Jessnaylorr) 23 June 2016
What makes the whole dethroning more ridiculous is that the organisation Miss Great Britain is all about judging women based on how attractive they are, so their reaction towards their contestant going on a show that is all about making yourself attractive to men seems incredibly hypocritical. The double standards this country is exposed to are often disregarded because it is too common that women are shamed for having confidence in their bodies.
The official Miss Great Britain Facebook page released a statement of deep regret, which explained why they had reached their decision:
“…The feedback we have received from pageant insiders and members of the general public is such that we cannot promote Zara as a positive role model moving forward. We wholly understand that everyone makes mistakes, but Zara, as an ambassador for Miss Great Britain, simply did not uphold the responsibility expected of the title.”
The standards of society are being perpetuated through the media and this big organisation into shaming a girl for something that is celebrated in lad culture. For Zara Holland, almost as soon as she became ultimately comfortable with her body, she got an award which came from her having confidence, but then when she was confident and used it for herself in a way she wanted to, she faced backlash.
Removing her title
The Miss Great Britain officials made the decision to remove her title while she was in the show, so she was not even the first to find out about it. The whole of Great Britain knew and laughed at her while video clips emerged of her talking to other contestants about her life as Miss GB. In this sense, it could be seen as the media’s attempt to publically embarrass her as we watched her proudly speaking about her title.
Shaming women because they are confident with using their sexuality is a form of misogyny, which is where the hypocrisy from media coverage comes into play, especially when it is men who are at the centre of it. For example, sex scandals for Catholic priests and lords where they have not had their titles revoked. Obviously, they have higher titles than a Miss Great Britain pageant, but the same principle stands and demonstrates the double standards that women are exposed to.
The Miss Great Britain officials stripped Zara Holland of her title as a means of control, and thus set standards of what they think a good role model should be. How can anyone be a good influence when they are under so much control and are not allowed to decide for themselves how they can be a role model? Is a woman not allowed to be a role model if she is confident and has sex?
By setting an ‘example’ of Zara Holland, the officials are showing young girls that it is not okay for them to express themselves this way, leaning towards a form of negative ‘slut shaming.’ It is a step backwards in terms of feminism. No one should ever be shamed for using their sexuality, it can be a form of empowerment, confidence and liberation from oppressive social norms.