Beauty Pageant or Political Stage? Miss Universe Confronts Bankruptcy and Identity Politics

Miss Universe Pageant (Imagined by Midjourney)

The Miss Universe Organization, once a bastion of traditional femininity and grace, is now facing disgrace and bankruptcy, and some are pointing fingers at the pageant’s foray into the world of political correctness: the inclusion of transgender contestants.

Journalist Emily Austin, a 2022 Miss Universe judge, recently appeared on Fox Business’s Varney & Co. and didn’t mince words.

She lambasted the idea of transgender women participating in the pageant, arguing that it’s a contradiction to the very essence of empowering biological women.

“I think the outrage about a trans woman coming to Miss Universe and preaching, ‘Bring the power back to women’ couldn’t be more of an oxymoron,” Austin said.

“You don’t know what period cramps feel like; I’m sorry. You don’t know what it’s like to walk down a stage during that time of the month and really say: this is femininity.

“You are a man who identifies as a woman, and that’s fine. But don’t start coming into women’s industries — have a line, have a boundary. That’s the problem,” Austin said.

Austin’s comments follow the company’s inability to repay a hefty $12 million loan, spiraling the organization into bankruptcy just before the 2023 pageant.

This financial blow comes under the watch of Anne Jakrajutatip, a Thai media mogul and transgender woman who acquired the organization for $20 million in 2022.

Perhaps it’s time for Jakrajutatip’s company to realize that going into the moral red can also lead to going into the financial red.

The Miss Universe pageant has been on the air since 1952. It was one of the world’s most watched and beloved television events, with over 500 million viewers in over 190 countries. However, the pageant’s ratings have taken a nosedive in recent years.

In 2022, the pageant drew its smallest audience ever, with just 2.7 million viewers. In 2016, after Donald Trump bought the Miss Universe Organization, the pageant enjoyed 9.7 million viewers.

Despite being a financial wreck, Jakrajutatip’s company, JKN Global Group, insists the show will go on, bankruptcy or not. It’s a bold stance, especially as the pageant gears up to feature two transgender contestants for the first time – a historic move that could damage the financial stability of the organization even further.

From the beginning of 2022, the stock value of JKN has plummeted, experiencing a drastic drop of more than 80%.

Following the company’s fall into bankruptcy, it sought relief by requesting restructuring of its financial obligations. This move involves a plea for more manageable interest rates on its current debts, coupled with an extension of the timeline for repaying these debts, as detailed in a report by The Bangkok Post.

Jakrajutatip is not backing down, however, saying pushing transgenders into the pageant is his “first priority in life no matter how joyful or painful it’s gonna be.”

He makes no mention of how painful it will be for viewers.


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