Why do they do this?

I totally agree with P. Z. Myers, that this business of making fun of the answers given by women who take part in beauty pageants has to stop. I had do so myself before I realized how unfair it is. The latest victim of this is Marissa Powell, the Miss Utah contestant for Miss USA.

She was asked a question about the recent survey showing the increasing number of women as the main breadwinner in households and she fumbled her answer, trying to respond that we need to do something about education and jobs but not quite getting it out. And now people are laughing at her, some with exceedingly cruel remarks.

This is totally unfair. She is a woman barely out of her teens taking part in a beauty pageant. She is not taking part in a Model UN tournament or a speech and debate contest where such a question might be relevant. Why should she be expected to respond to some random news story?

The problem is that they don’t seem to be allowed to give answers of the form, “I am sorry but I am unfamiliar with this issue and so am not in a position to offer an informed opinion.” They seem to be forced to say something so we should expect more such fumbles as they try to hide their lack of preparation. If you had shoved a microphone under my nose at the age of 20 and asked me a random question and forced me to answer under pressure, I would likely have been incoherent too, even more so because she at least had grace and poise and a winning smile, things I have never had.

So Ms. Powell, ignore the people who are laughing at you. At least you won a big contest, which is more than what many of your critics have ever done in their much longer lives.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Did the other contestants also flub their answers, or did Miss Utah stand out for her unpreparedness?

  2. MNb says

    Well, sometimes answers are too silly for their youthful level as well and yes, then I laugh. I’m not above it myself. Today I managed to write on the chalkboard that electrons are positively charged and protons negatively. Sure my class had a good laugh and I fully deserved it.
    This particular case I don’t understand though. The phrasing was a bit clumsy, but what’s wrong with giving women (or anybody) a good education and meaningful jobs? Sure, it might not be enough to close the gender gap, but it certainly won’t hurt either.
    So Ms. Powell, if you read this, I take my hat off for you – though I thorougly dislike beauty contests.

  3. ollie says

    Very nice Dr. Singham. But hey, the crowd (not you in particular ) also make fun of athletes (e. g. Tim Tebow) who have also achieved an elite status that few of us will ever reach.

    Why be so protective of the person who is basically there to look good in a swim suit?

  4. Seeker says

    People make fun of Tim Tebow because he’s a hypocritical ass who’s nowhere near as good as he believes himself to be.

  5. Frank says

    Yeah, I’ve laughed at young women in similar situations, but never at young men. If such “beauty contests” exist for young men, I’ve never heard of them (and if they exist, they certainly are not publicized in the same way).

    The whole concept of a “beauty contest” seems horribly outdated, but if it is really a test of physical beauty, why judge the contestants’ verbal eloquence in making a good point?

  6. Frank says

    The female beauty contest participant is basically there to look good in a swim suit, or to look silly answering a news question badly (how many times are these questions answered well?–I don’t know–those ones don’t make the rounds of the Internet).

    Professional athletes (mostly male) have contracts from which they make lots of money–even if they lose or sound like an idiot in public statements.

  7. Eristae says

    I find that “take” to be incredibly offensive. The idea that it can ever be “correct” to speak “smoothly, expertly, without hesitation or stammering” on a topic you know nothing about is teeth grindingly terrible. The correct response to a question you don’t know enough about to craft an informed answer to should be, “I don’t have enough information to answer that.” I suppose one could argue that it would have been great if she could have said “I don’t know” “smoothly, expertly, without hesitation or stammering,” but she’s not allowed to do that, is she?

    I can’t stand it when people decide that what we need to do is encourage people to pretend that they know something when they do not. It’s wrong on so many levels, both to the person who would be pretending and to the person who would be on the other end of that pretense. We need to have a country where people are comfortable saying, “I don’t know” and where it isn’t just commonly understood that people are going to pull random crap that sounds good out of their asses when presented with presented with a serious issue.

    And women’s income is a serious issue. It deserves to be treated as such, not distorted by people shooting off all kinds of bullshit to look good.

    Gah, now I’m peeved.

  8. Mano Singham says

    I am not being protective of her. I just think that that type of question in that type of situation seems to be almost designed to elicit blunders. It would be the same if Tebow after a game was asked his opinion on some random topic, like the G-8 talks. What’s the point?

    The reason that Tebow is made fun of is because (like some others) chooses to go out of his way to flaunt his religiosity. Although it should be irrelevant to football, he clearly thinks it is relevant and so his words and actions are fair game. Similarly, if he or Powell were to give interviews where they choose to speak on public policy issues and then made a hash of it, that would be fair game too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *