September 01, 2015

Beaverton satirizes MMIW crisis

I tweeted a few times about model/actress Ashley Callingbull winning the Mrs. Universe title. I guess it's a milestone for a Native to win a "major" beauty pageant, although Mrs. Universe isn't one of the "big four." But long-time readers know what I think of beauty pageants, which is not much.

However, the Beaverton's satirical article on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women (#MMIW) is worth mentioning:

The Beaverton pulls controversial article on Ashley Callingbull

Indigenous community outraged on Twitter about satire on missing, murdered women

By Kim Wheeler
A satirical news website that used a Cree woman's victory at an international beauty contest to draw attention to national coverage of missing and murdered indigenous women has withdrawn the article and apologized to its readers.

On Sunday, Ashley Callingbull, whose married name is Burnham, from Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta was named Mrs. Universe, the first First Nation woman to win the title.

The Beaverton's article, headlined "Mrs. First Cree Woman To Gain National Coverage If She Disappears," said make-believe judges "cited her good looks, upbeat attitude, and glitzy uncontroversial profession in awarding her the top prize of one day's coverage on most major Canadian news outlets should she suddenly vanish without a trace.

"Burnham is showing all those aboriginal girls out there that as long as you look like a supermodel and get on TV, you too can get the same news coverage as a white girl should you ever be abducted," the article continued.

In its apology, The Beaverton said it wrote the satirical story to "call out the Media for their failure to properly cover missing and murdered Aboriginal women …"

However, many indigenous people didn't find it funny and took to Twitter to voice their outrage:

"The fact that a publication would take the time to publish these words shows that they have no morals, no empathy," said Althea Guibouche, who is part of a team walking across Western Canada for all missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, who organizes an annual gathering in Winnipeg to remember disappeared women, says she wasn't as angry.

"I think in a twisted way it speaks the truth," she said.
Comment:  I think people responded to this satire like they would to any satire on a life-and-death issue. For example, rape, murder, or suicide. Some focus on the point--that the media focuses only on celebrities--which is valid. And some focus on the language, which mocks or belittles the threat of violence against women.

For more on violence against women, see Storefront Window Shows Bound Mi'kmaq Women.

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