As a quick aside, can we stop asking weighty questions during beauty pageants? How many honestly good ideas have grown out of a pageant answer? I’m pretty sure that answer is zero, but I’ll be the first to admit I put no research into it. Which, coincidentally, is the same amount of time most girls in these things seem to have spent pondering them. No, the only time you get anything remotely interesting out of these is when girls either seize up or are honestly flustered by the question, making them look dumb. There are no winners here. Please stop.
Anyway, we press on. The question posed to Miss Utah: “A recent report shows that in forty percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?”
Another aside. What a piss-poor question. I feel a bit odd about asking about American families versus American households, which feels more proper and precise, but we’re going to leave that aside for the moment. I can glean by context and general knowledge that the intent was to ask about women earning less than men in similar positions. The way the question is worded, however, is an oxymoron. In these families, there is no way the women could earn less and be the primary earners. But that is what the question seems to be asking us, based off the wording. I don’t blame Nene Leakes here. She was just the one reading off the cue card. If you’re going to try to ask serious questions, pageant people, at least ask them correctly.
Now, Miss Utah’s answer: “I think we can relate this back to education, and how we are . . . continuing to try to strive to . . . [breaks out into flustered smile] . . . figure out how to create jobs right now. [Shit-eating grin does not go away.] That is the biggest problem. And, I think, especially the men are . . . um . . . seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to try to figure out how to . . . create education better so that we can solve this problem. Thank you.”
Clearly that was a train wreck and a half. I’m sure Miss Utah (Marissa Powell) is not as dumb as she sounds there, clearly she became flustered and hurriedly rambled through some sentences to get out of the spotlight as soon as possible. Still, she clearly isn’t too well versed in this.
Here would be my answer. This was as on the spot as you can get in a forum like this, with no serious research and taking the report at face value, which I likely would not do if I were not giving a “beauty pageant” answer. Or, at least, collaborate it with other sources.
“I think we can, in many ways, relate this back to education.* For some time now, male college graduation and attendance rates have been falling, and falling rather steeply, for some time now. It is a good thing that more and more women are becoming educated, but it should not be at the expense of male learning. Without higher education, men will continue to be shut out of higher earning jobs, while women continue to have wider access. However, sadly, it seems society has not broken out of the mindset that men are breadwinners and women are supplemental earners. This is a dangerous mindset for this country. Equal wages for equal performance ought to be common sense, not something we have to legislate, and we will be lesser as a society for it as long as things continue on this way.”
*She was doing fine to that point, and I don’t disagree with that part at all. It’s just, things from there, ugh.
I did not go back and edit any of that. It is how it fell out of my fingers so as to best replicate how it would be spoken. Sure, there are points about job creation to make and probably bigger points about how many single mother households there are. I would be very curious to see how many of those forty percent of households have women not only as the primary earner, but the sole earner. You could probably break it down further from there and get into issues of class and race. There are reasons people endlessly debate this stuff in spite of the volumes and volumes that have already been written about the subject.
Nobody wins here. It’s a total farce to ask these sorts of questions in that forum to begin with. Miss America is a beauty pageant. We all understand that. There’s no need to try to give it any more gravitas beyond what it already has with that particular crowd. Believe me, the sort of people who would care about those questions are, most likely, not going to pay attention to your little dress up game anyway. But, to Miss Utah and others, seriously. Learn to bullshit a little bit. You’re giving, what, a thirty second answer, max? It’s not that hard to spout off some words that sound nice but ultimately say nothing. Talk to damn near any politician. They do it for a living. I’m sure they can give you some pointers.
Long story short, this is why any daughters I happen to have are not coming within five miles of a beauty pageant.