In Reply To “Mr. Peninsula: The Ugly Truth About Pageants”


Madeleine Johnson

Madison Parker gives her opinion on Mr. Peninsula.

Madison Parker, Guest Writer

*Disclaimer: I absolutely love everyone who was involved in writing and creating “Mr. Peninsula: The Ugly Truth Behind Pageants” and really admire that PHS Outlook gives us all the platform to write our own opinion pieces. This is just my opinion, reacting to another opinion I highly respect.*

When I read something I don’t understand completely,  my first inclination is to research about the topic in order to either validate my thoughts or clear up what I was priorly confused about so that their point might make more sense to me. So when I read “Mr. Peninsula: The Ugly Truth Behind Pageants”, an article on the PHS Outlook, and saw that a PHS senior felt that “Mr. Peninsula can be surface-level funny,” but thought there were “underlying roots of repression”, I felt conflicted and immediately went to the dictionary to look up the true definition of “repression”.

The definition of repression:

“the action of subduing someone or something by force”

“the restraint, prevention, or inhibition of a feeling…”

Although the article was written in good light trying to bring attention to the sexualization of women in modern day society, as a girl myself, I finished reading it feeling extremely puzzled. As I was also there to watch and participate in Mr. Peninsula from the beginning to the end, I truly tried to think of a time the light hearted humor presented by the senior boys, or even just the idea of the pageant itself, promoted any sense of “restraining, subduing, or inhibition” to my gender.  

The article stated that “In our culture, you don’t want to be called a ‘girl’” or even be told that you “throw like a girl” because it has “become an insult”. The statements in this article insinuate that pageants are a major part of the troubling modern day “culture” that promotes these feelings.  Because I’m not a pageant girl myself, I got ahold of former 2016 Miss Teen Montana, Jami Forseth, and asked her if she felt like all the big time pageants she had been a part of led her to believe that she was promoting the “mask over a different type of oppression” the article was speaking about.

Jami said,  “If anything, pageants nowadays are empowering women. The reason behind wearing evening gowns is to show off grace and the beauty of femininity. The swimsuit portion is to show off a girl’s confidence, regardless of the her physical appearance. The interview/onstage question (worth 60% of the overall score) is meant to show a woman’s true intelligence and poise as she answers challenging on the spot questions.”

A great example of how pageants are empowering women is Deshauna Barber, a Captain in the US Army and our current Miss USA. Barber uses her platform to promote equality among all ethnicities,  giving women all around the world the confidence to stand up for what they believe in. Other examples are Halima Aden, the first Muslim woman to compete in pageants while wearing her hijab, or Chelsea Hardin, a hardworking D1 volleyball player and Miss Hawaii 2016. Jami brings up the fact that a lot of these women use their platform to create their own volunteering organizations and movements that are actually crucial to the “progressive” society pageant naysayers want.

Because so many of these women competing are full time students or D1 athletes, Jami says that pageants actually liberate women, making statements such as “You throw like a girl”  nothing but an incredible compliment. “Those who still think that pageants are nothing but degrading and oppressive watch way too much Toddlers in Tiaras” Jami jokes.

After all of this, my question is how are boys playing volleyball in short shorts and crop-tops”, making fun of a deeper form of “repression”.  What is so wrong with these boys wearing short shorts, or competing in pageants? If women should be allowed to do anything a man does, shouldn’t a man be able to do whatever a woman does as well? If this isn’t allowed, that to me sounds like a very legitimate restraint; actual “repression” in it’s truest form. (The very thing the article’s point of view is fighting against). Anyone who watched Mr. Peninsula knows that the legitimate heart and motive behind the show was nothing like Toddlers in Tiaras. But if Mr. Peninsula mirrored any aspect of an actual pageant, let it be the imitation of the empowerment modern day pageants are beginning to promote. Let Mr. Peninsula be known as the night that allowed boys of all different groups to let go of their inhibition, trying their hardest to do nothing but just make people laugh.

To the senior boys of 2017 who put on an incredibly fun and exciting show for the rest of us to watch and enjoy, thank you for such a great memory.