Everything that’s wrong with America, or not

August 29, 2007

Title stolen from this post at Feministe, which is about the video of Miss Teen South Carolina USA that I’m assuming everyone has seen by now.

What’s completely shocking to me here is the response of feminist blogs (and their commenters). I expect various stupid people on the internet, radio personalities, your average misogynist American, to make fun of the girl, to insult her intelligence, to use the “dumb blonde” stereotype, either explicitly or implicity. I do not however, expect commenters at Pandagon to use words like “moron,” “dumb,” or describe her performance as “an indictment of our education system” (just to pick a few). To be fair, the commenters at Feministe aren’t that bad (yet) , but I’m not happy with what I see at Feministing, either.

I want to briefly respond to the idiocy of insulting her intelligence, but what I’d really like to do is respond to the more subtle problems I see at Feministe, where people aren’t acting like blatant assholes. So, if anyone would bother to do a simple google search and read her bio, they’d know that she’s not just a beauty pageant queen. She plays soccer. She does graphic design. From other sources, she’s a good student, at a good high school (Lexington HS, for the record, is one of the better public schools in South Carolina–I was beaten at many academic competitions once upon a time by honors students from Lexington, which is what she is). Yes, she models too. She’s pretty. She uses the system. And she tried to use the system to get a scholarship from a beauty pageant. So what? Since when does that mean she’s fair game for “feminists” to attack?

Having said that, there are some slightly more complex issues. Even at feministe, I’m seeing people making the assumption that her performance is some kind of indication that she doesn’t know how to answer a question (at least at feministe, the blame isn’t placed on her) . Am I the only one who sees how ridiculous this is? Yes, it could be the case that the problem is a complete failing of the education system, her general socialization, and who the hell knows what else. But don’t you think it’s more likely that she was put in a very tough spot (we’re keeping in mind that this is a beauty pageant; an honest “well, because the education system sucks ass” answer, even more eloquently phrased, is simply not acceptable, since it’s not nearly yay america patriotic enough), and she was nervous? She stood there, like she was supposed to. She smiled the whole time, like she was supposed to. She repeated the question while thinking, like she was supposed to. She tried to turn the question into something that could be answered with a standard fluffy answer, like she was supposed to. This is where she failed, but how the fuck does that tell anyone anything about her education? Or even tell anyone about whether she knows how to answer a question? *sigh*

The same goes for the content of her comment. Yes, one could construe it to have been racist or classist or whatever–she answered a question about why the US sucks with saying that the US should help poor countries. But let’s be serious here. That was merely a product of her attempting (and failing) to turn an education question into a question she had a yay america patriotic answer to.

There is also a prevalent attitude of “poor girl, our society has made it so that she has no other skills and has to use her beauty to get by like this,” which is simply ridiculous and patronizing, and is really just a more insidious way of saying she’s a dumb blonde (but at least not blaming her, I suppose).

Lastly, I see a lot of “women like that” “someone like that” etc. MY GOD does that piss me off. (That’s all I have to say on that.) It pisses me off almost as much as people holding her responsible for perpetuation of the stereotypes and sexism which are being used against her (not something I’ve seen overtly done at any of these blogs, to be clear). Because I’m sure if women never made any mistakes in public, suddenly we’d be treated entirely as equals. So obviously what I should do is never leave my house, for fear of accidentally doing something which someone might construe as support for a sexist stereotype.

And no, aside from the fact that there was a beauty pageant involved, and possibly the content of the question, this is in no way, shape, or form an indication of anything that’s wrong with America. People’s responses, on the other hand? They’re pretty wrong.


10 Responses to “Everything that’s wrong with America, or not”

  1. hecateluna Says:

    Just to be fair, many people at all of those blogs were reasonable, there were really only a few awful comments. I wasn’t clear about that above.

  2. Orez Niap Says:



  3. hecateluna Says:

    Come on. You can do better than that for spam.

  4. Orez Niap Says:

    Bah! Well. I would try to find ninja porn for spamming purposes, but I’m at work.

    Also the answer she gave was probably something that she had memorized beforehand so that she could try and turn it into an appropriate answer.

    Which I only know because you pointed it out to me before. But I didn’t think it was clear in your post.

  5. Orez Niap Says:

    I like your blog real good.


  6. Nick Says:

    Great post!

    Finally I feel like someone has taken the time to clearly articulate why this isn’t some colossal meltdown of the American education system.

    What was a colossal meltdown was [and continues to be] the feminist blogs’ complete and utter failure to challenge their own sexism in regard to posting on this subject.

    Widespread inability amongst some of the most prominent feminist bloggers to recognize a classic case woman-hating? Now THAT is [fill in blank with any of a number of adjectives applied by feminist bloggers to Miss Teen South Carolina]!

  7. hecateluna Says:

    Thanks. 🙂

    To be clear, I do think there are many, many things wrong with the American education system. One doesn’t have to look very far to find indications of trouble. This just isn’t one of those indications, and saying it is seems rather insulting to a 17-year-old woman who’s already getting plenty of that from every other corner of the internet/media.

  8. Casey Says:

    Is the ideal woman agoraphobic?

    Also, I agree with you. Good and well written blog.

  9. Nick Says:

    Oh yes, I agree with your clarification and didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

  10. Histy Says:

    Hey look, you blogged! ;^)

    I must say i’m enjoying your debating skills over at “the other place.”

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