NEW YORK - Lucy Maino was an accomplished role model before she became Miss Papua New Guinea.
The 25-year-old co-captained her country’s national football team, bringing home two gold medals from the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa.
She also attended the University of Hawaii on a sports scholarship and earned a business degree.
But posting a TikTok of herself twerking was enough to cancel-out Maino’s other triumphs, according to conservative voices.
Miss Papua New Guinea was stripped of her crown, and critics say the incident is reflective of deep-seated misogyny in the Oceanic nation.
As anyone who's spent more than five minutes on TikTok can attest, there are probably, like, literally a million videos of people twerking on the app.
But Maino was singled out and faced intense online harassment for showing off her dance moves. Trolls downloaded the video from her personal account and disseminated it across social media, where thousands more people piled on to pass judgement.
The pageant committee that stripped Maino of her title over the controversy claims that it advocates for women. “Our core purpose is empowerment of women,” it claims.
Yet a former Miss Papua New Guinea, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Guardian that Maino's punishment was absolutely sexist.
“I am sure if a male public figure did a TikTok [video], we would all be laughing or even praising him,” she said.
The United Nations in Papua New Guinea condemned the online vitriol and harassment directed at Maino: “We see the devastation of violence against women and children in this beautiful country.
“Some through bullying have lost their lives," the organisation wrote on Facebook. It starts with telling women they should cover up. It starts with telling women, they shouldn’t dance like that."
KEITH JACKSON writes…..
NOOSA - In a vicious series of cowardly attacks, Ms Maino was disparaged thousands of times by angry social media commenters, who condemned her for “lacking decency,” promoting “immoral Western culture” and “inappropriately twerking in a Christian nation.”
I've seen this kind of behaviour before - as we all have - and every time I see it I call it out - loudly.
The shaming of Ms Maino was a disgraceful pile-on from people who, if a rugby league star had performed the same dance, would have rolled on the floor laughing.
There have been double standards and much hypocrisy in the treatment of Lucy Maino. There still is.
Avdoh Meki wrote in PNG Attitude yesterday that “I don't think this negative attention would have scathed Ms Maino”.
How would he know? The fact is that this is exactly the kind of intimidating treatment of women that causes them anxiety, despair and fear.
In the video, Ms Maino had explained why dancing was her passion: “I love dance. To me it is a form of healing and self-expression.” She also said the dance was a “vulnerable moment to share.”
Get that? Ms Maino knew she was showing her vulnerability. She wanted to share it in an act of humility. For that she was pilloried by these low lifes.
Avdoh Meki also attacked the defenders of Ms Maino, saying their “statements were unjustified, sweeping generalisations and perhaps lacked in-depth contemplation of the cultural dynamics and the ideologies at play”.
That prose is tortured but I know what it means. It means that Mr Meki and his supporters should think more deeply about what they do and say. 'Cultural dynamics and ideologies' my arse. What about a trace of common humanity.
Despite Mr Meki’s views, Ms Maino’s persecution angered thinking people across the region and brought yet more disgrace on Papua New Guinea for its treatment of women and girls.
Governor Allan Bird, co-chair of the Coalition of Parliamentarians Against Gender-Based Violence, pondered what kind of society it is that gets upset when a young woman does a dance video.
United Nations Women PNG said "bullying is never acceptable in any form, neither digital nor in-person. We see the devastation of violence against women and children in this beautiful country. Some through bullying have lost their lives.”
The group added that gender-based violence is rooted in inequality and discrimination. “Violence against women often stems from the belief that men have a say over how women should act, dress and behave in society. It starts with telling women they shouldn’t dance like that.”
The organisation, PNG Against Violence, withdrew its support of the pageant and criticised organisers for failing to use the platform to empower women — which is one of the key requirements of a Miss PNG winner.
"[The pageant] chose to ‘knuckle under’ public pressure coming predominantly from misogynists who fear women having freedom and rights,” the group said. “It has been appalling.”
Madeleine Keck, reporting for Global Citizen from Melbourne, wrote that PNG is considered one of the most dangerous places to be a girl or woman of any country globally.
“Around 70% of Papua New Guinean women will face rape or assault in their lifetime, while violent attacks on women and girls accused of sorcery or witchcraft are ongoing problems.”
It is long past the time that Papua New Guinean men stopped uttering slurs and smears against women, stopped beating and murdering women, and began to behave and talk about women with respect, decency, and morality in full observance of the Christian values they profess.
Then they can criticise as much as they like.