Trolls Attack Miss Utah

The internet is not the place to look for really inspirational comments from the people we live with, work with, and laugh with — it’s the field where trolls play.

This thought sustained me in my reading of some of the comments written about Miss Utah, Marissa Powell, and her incoherent answer to this question at the Miss USA pageant: “A recent report shows that in 40 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?”

Her answer: “I think we can relate this back to education, and how we are … continuing to try to strive to [pause] figure out how to create jobs right now. 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.”

Her answer, even to those who are highly literate, is nearly undecipherable. We all laughed and we imagined our own answers if we had been asked that question and required to answer on the spot in front of millions, and we felt better about ourselves and our intelligence.

As one would expect, comments from viewers on the internet have been quick and nasty and ill-judged. It’s really easy to make comments like this from behind a computer screen, because commentators are never accountable to anyone who can turn and point the finger back at them and criticize them for making the very same mistakes that they descry themselves.

Taking such a critical position towards Miss Utah’s answer deflects the real problem, which is us — you and me. We make up this society, and what can we expect from a society that prizes outward beauty more than anything else? That such a society would produce women who value intelligence and articulation above all else? That girl doesn’t need to be smart and articulate, because her looks allow her to get whatever she wants wherever she goes.

And it’s a BEAUTY PAGEANT! We cannot demand coherence and top-notch communication skills until we start broadcasting pageants featuring people like Susan Bordo and Cornell West. If we start valuing women and placing more emphasis on, aptly, their education rather than on their beauty, we will start to see some changes.

In the meantime, people, slow your roll. We’ve all said equally dumb things. Don’t be that person who refuses to recognize his or her own part in creating a space where women are not pushed to attain success beyond outward appearance. Don’t be that troll.

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One response to “Trolls Attack Miss Utah

  1. Totally agree! Though I did get a chuckle the first time I listened to her make a fool of herself, it hit me that this was a really stupid answer to a really stupid question. Why does a young girl in her twenties need to have an answer for a question like that at a pageant?? I’m in the media and have been school in some things like this and there’s no way I would have had a good answer for this question if put on the spot like she was. Now, I’m not saying I think this girl is particularly bright but neither are 90% of athletes. Give the girl a break! Nice post.

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