The National Union of Students’ Women’s Officer, Olivia Bailey, has written an open letter to BAM student marketing, who are promoting the Miss University GB beauty pageants and pushing for the distribution of lads’ mag FHM at freshers’ fairs:
We believe that Universities and Colleges should be spaces which are welcoming and inclusive for all. Beauty Pageants, like that run by Miss University GB, promote a narrow and exclusive view of women students, and contribute to a culture which values women by what they look like, and not by their character. Students’ unions take their equal opportunities policy very seriously, and, advertising a competition which seeks to divide students from each other based on sexist notions of the ‘perfect woman’ directly flouts those policies.
The distribution of FHM is equally concerning for similar reasons. Women are bombarded with images of the objectification and commodification of their bodies on a day to day basis – and education institutions should be a place where all women can feel free to be themselves. FHM and other lads mags normalise and encourage warped views on how women are supposed to look, and on how they are supposed to behave. Just as supporting beauty pageants promotes a narrow view of femininity, handing out FHM promotes a narrow view of masculinity and sends the message that the ‘average’ male student constructs his masculinity through the act of objectifying women. This is also clearly discriminatory to gay men.