Posted by Wordsmith on 15 May, 2017 at 11:23 pm. 3 comments already!



This past Sunday, the Miss USA pageant offered a master class in what can go wrong when you ask pageant contestants policy questions that even politicians can’t seem to answer. During a 30-second, necessarily superficial opinion round aptly sponsored by theSkimm, Miss Minnesota, Miss Illinois, Miss South Carolina, Miss New Jersey and Miss District of Columbia were asked to speak to some of the most important issues currently facing our nation. While come contestants got off relatively easy—high teen suicide rates=bad, social media=good but sometimes bad—Miss D.C. was forced to grapple with whether healthcare in America is a right or a privilege. To be fair, thirty seconds is now the approximate time increment that any American gets to express an opinion before the counter-screaming or commercial break cuts in. Accordingly, Kara McCullough’s problem wasn’t brevity, but the upshot of her brief remarks: “I’m definitely going to say it is a privilege. As a government employee, I am granted healthcare and I see firsthand that to have healthcare, you need to have jobs.” That, my friends, is a healthcare mic drop.

McCullough’s controversial comments are a far cry from the stereotypical pageant pleas for peace on earth. The D.C. contestant’s fiscally conservative fantasy came as a shock to some of McCullough’s fans, who had spent the pageant lead-up praising her on everything from her natural hair to her professional competence. In many ways, McCullough is the perfect pageant contestant for the “I really shouldn’t be watching this beauty pageant” set. The 25-year-old African-American scientist works for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and competes on a platform of supporting women and girls in STEM fields.
McCullough further scandalized viewers when she was asked if she considers herself a feminist—again, must we do this? —only to respond, “As a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to transpose the word feminism to equalism…I try not to consider myself this die-hard, like, I don’t really care about men.” Bad news for the handful of Miss USA watchers who wanted to see a misandrist finally take the crown (also bad news for anyone who knows that the literal definition of feminism is the struggle for gender equality). You may disagree with McCullough, but I, for one, have to commend her for actually articulating her beliefs, instead of pulling a page from the Ivanka Trump “feminist” playbook of random verbs and nouns.

Despite or perhaps due to her polarizing responses, McCullough ended the night as Miss USA.

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