Does Miss France discriminate in the workplace?

Does Miss France discriminate in the workplace?
Does Miss France discriminate in the workplace?

The French feminist association Osez le Féminisme appealed to a labor court on Tuesday against companies involved in Miss France’s organization, claiming that the physical and marital status requirements for participation in the beauty pageant are sexist and discriminators. In fact, the group argues that the participation of the competitors is a work performance in all respects, and that it is therefore subject to the laws against discrimination: the same laws, argues Osez le Féminisme, which would have been violated by the program.

Miss France is a beauty pageant very similar to Miss Italy and is broadcast every year on TF1, the main French television network. The event had already been called “an archaic caricature” in the 2019 Annual Report on the State of Sexism, commissioned by the High Council for Equality between Men and Women of France (HCE). The recent accusations of Osez le Féminisme (which in Italian could be translated as “Dare to be feminist”) are however a new element in the discussion against sexism and discrimination in beauty contests and have also been reported by the major French newspapers.

The activist group claims that the company that organizes Miss France and the one that produces the TV program, Endemol, select the participants with discriminatory criteria, excluding those who do not have the requisites: in particular being taller than 1 meter and 70, “to represent the ‘idea of ​​beauty’ and not being married.

Secondo Dare Feminism, Miss France “exploits women, who every year repeat and interpret a sexist, discriminatory and lucrative show, which generates millions of euros in proceeds”. Since they participate in “a show” – a term used by Endemol to define the program – “they perform a work performance”: and the labor law prohibits discrimination based on “creed, age, marital status and physical appearance”, reminded to AFP Violaine De Filippis-Abate, the lawyer representing the group.

Osez le Féminisme therefore requests that the organization of the competition and Endemol abolish the current regulation and no longer apply discriminatory criteria. They also demand that the television channel on which the program is broadcast refuses to “reflect a sexist society that promotes the culture of rape and the woman as an object”. In support of the initiative, Osez le Féminisme presented the hashtag PasTaMiss on social networks, “I’m not your miss”.

The appeal of the association is based on the testimonies of three people who said they were not selected for the competition because they did not meet the requirements (the three people preferred to remain anonymous). It was presented to the labor court in Bobigny, near Paris, and cites as a reference the 2013 ruling in the case of a competitor of Mister France according to which an employment relationship existed between the company organizing the competition and the participants.

Miss France contestants do not sign a contract, but according to Osez le Féminisme the working relationship begins from the moment of selection.

As he noted The world, from that moment the participants must suspend the activities of their private life to devote themselves to those required by the competition. In addition, there are other elements in support of the existence of a working relationship: for example, they must participate in a series of mandatory tests and registrations and are advised not to adopt behaviors “contrary to good manners, public order or the spirit of competition, based on the values ​​of elegance », how not to smoke in public. In addition to the issue of discrimination, according to Osez le Féminisme, the competition would continue to have “a negative and retrograde impact on the whole of society”.

The company that organizes Miss France told ad AFP that it does not intend to address the situation “immediately”. In any case, as De Filippis-Abate pointed out, it is unlikely that things will change by the next edition of the competition, which will be held on 11 December in Caen.

– Read also: How many women in the world can say “the body is mine”?

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