The 2018 Miss USA pageant aired May 21 on Fox. Hosted by the husband and wife team of Nick and Vanessa Lachey, got political by delving into feminism, gender inequality, and #MeToo.
A practice session with the women was included in taped behind-the-scenes coverage that opened the show. As the potential final questions were tossed around to check their ability to think on their feet, one was totally political in nature, “What do you think about President Trump?” Thankfully, the viewers were spared an answer.
A nod to the #MeToo movement happened when several contestants were asked in casual interviews if they had experienced a #MeToo moment. The majority said yes.
When the field of contestants was whittled down to five, it was time for individual questions. This year, to mix it up a bit, the five contestants wrote and submitted questions for each other. I suppose I should be grateful that only two of them had political connotations.
Miss North Carolina was asked by Miss South Dakota about the Boy Scouts accepting girls now. She answered that the decision is a “great change" and said it was about equality. I disagree, Miss North Carolina. As the mom of an Eagle Scout I know the value of single sex organizations and it's not about inequality. Then again, Miss North Carolina bizarrely seems to think America is decades behind on gender inequality. She predicted that "in 10, 20 years from now men and women are going to be complete equals."
Miss South Dakota was asked by Miss Nevada about the last election. Why did only about 1/3 of eligible women voters vote? Miss South Dakota didn’t have an answer for that but did say that women are perfectly capable of voting. Her answer was a word salad. Bless them, these women don’t come off as particularly deep thinkers.
Lachey: North Carolina, please come join us at center stage. Hey there. Your question tonight comes from South Dakota.
Miss South Dakota: Hi. The Boy Scouts recently decided to accept girls into their organization. Do you feel this is a positive change and do you think that there is value in single gender organizations?
Miss North Carolina: I think this is a great change. I think we are in a time in America where -- not in America, we're at a time in the whole world where gender equality is a huge thing. I believe in 10, 20 years from now men and women are going to be complete equals and we are making those steps right now with the Boy Scouts. Thank you.
Lachey: Thank you. South Dakota, please join us for your question. Your question tonight comes from Florida. From Nevada. Excuse me. From Nevada.
Miss Nevada: Hey, girl. During the last presidential election more than 1/3 of women neglected to exercise their right to vote. Why do you think that is?
Miss South Dakota: You know, I'm not sure why that is. I think that women are perfectly capable of expressing how they feel and they should be able to vote and they should express that at the polls. And I think that we need to get out there as women and show that we are perfectly capable of.
Then the final three contestants were all given the same question. It was: “You're on your way to a march and someone hands you a blank sign and a marker. What do you put on your sign and why?”
They had to acknowledge all the marches, right? Oh, brother. The answers were quite generic and not particularly noteworthy. Miss Nebraska said her sign would say, “Be your voice.” I didn’t really understand that as a sign but she also said that we should all listen to each other so that was refreshing. Miss North Carolina’s sign would say, “Your body, your rights.” She spoke about sexual assault, not abortion, thankfully. And finally, Miss Nevada wanted her sign to say, “Let’s work together to eliminate homelessness.” She spoke about her own family’s experience after her father lost his job and how they overcame the struggle.
Spoiler alert: Miss Nebraska won the pageant. Maybe her message of listening to all voices resonated with the judges. Let’s hope so and keep politics out of beauty contests.