Lucy Maino, the current holder of the Miss Papua New Guinea title, was stripped of her crown following backlash to a video that showed her twerking on TikTok.
The organization that has the power to do such a thing, the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant Papua New Guinea (MPIP PNG) committee, said this week that Maino would be “released” from her responsibilities because of the video, according to The Guardian.
“Our core purpose is empowerment of women,” said the committee in a statement. “We are a unique pageant style platform that promotes cultural heritage, traditional values and sharing through tourism about our country and people. MPIP PNG promotes the virtues of confidence, self-worth, integrity, and community service with a parallel focus on education.”
The video’s since been deleted, but not before it was downloaded and shared across multiple other social media sites and YouTube. Critics say that Maino, who was also a co-captain for Papua New Guinea’s women’s soccer team in 2019, had not been serving as a “role model” when she shared the twerking clip.
For those wondering what official duties Miss Papua New Guinea even has (me), The Guardian writes that the person in the position acts as a cultural ambassador for the country, as well as an advocate for women.
Now that we’ve filled you in on the perspective of her critics, let us note (and end the article with) the position of those who’ve come to her defense.
Allan Bird, who’s a governor in one of the country’s provinces, backed Maino against the online backlash by asking in a social media post: “What kind of society condemns the torture and killing of women yet get upset when a young woman does a dance video?” It’s also worth noting that Bird is the co-chair of the Coalition of Parliamentarians against Gender-Based Violence.
A former Miss PNG who chose not to be named claimed that the reaction and subsequent punishment were evidence of the country’s deep-seated misogyny. That person was quoted as saying, “I am sure if a male public figure did a TikTok [video], we would all be laughing or even praising him.”
A woman’s advocate who also chose not to be named out of fear of online harassment said that “the committee could have handled it better by first outlining the clause that she breached as a reigning queen … I feel that they threw her under the bus and didn’t give her a chance to come out and talk. That is not the way to go.”
The United Nations also condemned social media attacks against Maino in Papua New Guinea. That organization noted in a Facebook post that, last year, Maino was one of several youth representatives who advocated on behalf of the country to U.N. officials.
“The United Nations stands to ensure that the rights of the people are at the forefront of digital safety and protection policies,” said the post. “While constructive criticism and dissenting views are legitimate, bullying is NEVER acceptable in any form: neither digital or in-person.”
Anyway, Maino was the winner of Miss Papua New Guinea in 2019. She still held that title because there was no 2020 pageant due to the COVID-19 pandemic.