I attended Mr. UMW this past week to experience an event that branched off of one of The University of Mary Washington’s first male dominated activities. Mr. UMW is an annual all male pageant that stemmed off of the Mr. MWC (Mary Washington College was the schools previous name) contest which started in 1999. The Mr. MWC was based off of The Wo-man contest that ran from the seventies into the late 90’s.¹
In this Pageant, about ten people participated, all named after the residence hall they represented, Eg: “Mr. Virginia”, “Mr. Eagle”.This particular show was 90’s themed and had two MC’s who both ran the show as well as played audience participation games. The contestants had to present a talent, a “red carpet” look, and then do a Q and A. Although these are all very classic “Beauty Pageant” activities, most of these things were made very satirical.
I could’t help but wonder why this male version of a pageant was not a serious pageant but instead based on humor. We were not judging their personality or talents, but more of if their personality was funny and how much could they make us laugh. Before UMW was a co-ed school, it hosted women’s beauty pageants that were ran like classic beauty pageants are usually ran, but as soon as men joined in with the Wo-man contest it became satirical and about being funny. Though I personally enjoyed the humor, I couldn’t help but wonder why the inclution of males in the pageant immediately created something less about judgement and looks. Why was the school okay with women being judged for beauty and talent in a serious manner but not men? Are men expected to be funny in order to be liked on a stage? These are just a few questions I thought about.
Another thing I found interesting was that this year, several people competed in the competition who were not the societal stereotype of “male” making it feel more inclusive, but I then overheard that this particular Mr. UMW pageant was making people feel conflicted because it was no longer just. “Mr.’s” and wondered if it should even be continued. I don’t understand why binary categorization has to determine who can participate fairly in a competition, but this slight discomfort in a few individuals makes me realize that although I know that “Mr.” is defined individually , it doesn’t mean others do. On the other side of the coin, many people want to stop this competition because they feel as if it is not inclusive enough. So overall, Mr. UMW seems to frustrate a lot of people, and I see its retirement in the near future.
Here is a picture of a friend of mine and his friend singing during the talent portion.
1. Crawley, William Bryan. “The Woodard Era, 1974-82.” University of Mary Washington: a centennial history, 1908-2008. Fredericksburg, VA: U of Mary Washington, 2008. 252. Print.