Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Male beauty contest, judged by women who aren't quite "making it up"

Click here to read the article!

While beauty contests and make up are generally considered to me female-orientated, some African communities, such as Niger's Wodaabe men, beg to differ. These unusual beauty contests, known as Gerewol, celebrate the fertility the rains bring to the parched edge of the Sahara.The Wodaabe men participate in a "beauty contest" for which they decorate their faces elaborateness with make up, in order to highlight their male beauty, in order to impress their female judges, hoping they will be chosen as their lovers.  Adornments and desired qualities include ostrich plumes and pompoms worn on the head to emphasize height, a narrow face decorated with red ochre, wide eyes with black eyeliner (made from charred egret bones), facial symmetry enhanced with black, yellow, or white patters, and aquiline nose with a clay arrow stripe, long braids and cowrie shells, white, well-maintained teeth emphasized with black lipstick, as well we good dance skills.

While the men are certainly breaking Western standards of masculinity by partaking in such a performance, they are also corresponding with them in some interesting ways. For instance, the red ochre that coats their faces is associated with blood and violence, which women in any culture are rarely seen employing as an asset. However, compliance with traditional gender roles seems to end with this performance and acknowledgment of male violence, masculinity, and dominance. The rest of the colors are also symbolic, denoting magic and transformation, loss and death, and expressivity. The men, elaborately dressed in such, dance for hours, hoping their performance will please one of the high-status female judges. Each judge chooses her champion to take him as a lover, regardless of the relationship status of either. Because marriages in Wodaabe culture are often arranged very early, the Gerewol is viewed as a chance for lovers to find each other; no stigma is attached to abandoning one's marriage vows at Gerewol, and the new lovers leave their old ones, remaining monogamous and faithful to only one person at a time.


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