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Rima, Carrie and Donald: Feminist Liberators

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They spend hours getting coiffed and air-brushed, they pose in teeny bikinis and evening gowns which resemble Manhattan stripper wear (I should know), they pose for sultry, sexy photoshoots which, apparently, are to assure the general public that, "You can have brains and be smart and... still be sexy"... and the way these women prove they "have brains" and are smart? One solitary question. Which is only addressed to the top five candidates. Those who didn't make the cut on beauty alone, didn't ever need to have their "brains" and "smartness" tested.

I'm referring, of course, to that bastion of true womanhood -- the Miss USA title. Right wing commentators galore are gloating about this year's revelation that the first Muslim Miss USA, Rima Fakih, won an amateur pole-dancing contest at a strip club in Detroit three years ago. It makes up for the sad loss of Carrie Prejean last year. She seemed so promising as a right wing poster girl when she made her views on gay marriage abundantly clear -- but the sex tape revelation which spurred the termination of her contract can't have been easy to swallow. Still, she did leave us with some enlightening thoughts on Christianity and plastic surgery for the modern beauty pageant contestant, "I don't think there's anything wrong with getting breast implants as a Christian. I think it's a personal decision. I don't see anywhere in the Bible where it says you shouldn't get breast implants."

But back to Miss USA. We're on tenterhooks about Rima. Could her lax, reprehensible morals, so obviously demonstrated by that one night, fully dressed, swinging around a pole for an amateur contest hosted by a Detroit radio station, be responsible for an end to the myriad of opportunities available to winners of Miss USA? Has Rima, by that illicit act -- identifying herself with stripping, and hence prostitution and pornography, and by extension the oppression, degradation and exploitation of women, including sex trafficking, domestic violence, rape and other phallocentric crimes (Yes, I was throwing a Bindel there) -- Has Rima thrown away a lifetime of opportunity? Miss USA has, after all, a history of producing life's winners: one in Survivor Guatemala, two Amazing Race contestants, one Apprentice participant, an actress on Dallas (three seasons), a drug addict with lesbian tendencies, Playmate of the month, the 1998 Doritos girl in the Superbowl ads ... I could go on, but I fear I'd just be rubbing it in for poor Rima. I'm hoping Donald will intervene, perhaps by sending her off to a clinic in Arizona before her sex addiction takes hold and her actions inspire millions of Little Miss Sunshine's to ditch high school and make like Sasha Grey.

I wrote a few years ago that "Sex work is a symptom of the glorious moral decline that sees "news" channels breaking with pictures of Britney's vagina, young kids in the playground swapping tips on deep throat, girls deciding being a WAG is a valid career option." It's interesting that the arbiter of female morality, what comprises behavior deemed acceptable to the cause of women, promoting it or detrimental to us, now no longer rests with respected feminists, women or God (I threw God in to attract the atheists), but on Donald Trump and Miss USA. Feminists across the world must be waiting with bated breath to find out if Rima Fakih's jaunt around a stripper pole one night has deprived her of the right to have brains, be smart and be sexy. Will Rima ever be able to join the realms of all those powerful women Miss USA has produced, forging their paths in groundbreaking reality shows, leaving a blazing trail through rehabs, and magnanimously contributing to the insatiable demand for online pornography?

Or will the makers of Miss USA finally wise up and realize that the girls they're desperately trying to hold up as "savvy, goal-oriented and aware... who compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals, and as women... seek to improve the lives of others" are as saturated as the rest of us with 21st century female raunch culture?