When the world seems to be teetering on the brink of one disaster or another on a daily basis, it seems silly to bother myself with the fate of Miss California, Carrie Prejean. But here I am, having lots of feelings about what has happened since the night she became first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant.
As most people know by now, on April 19th, Miss (using "Ms." In this case seems somehow...wrong), Prejean lost the title of Miss USA to Miss North Carolina, Kristen Dalton. Some believe Prejean's loss, at least in part, was precipitated by her answer to a question posed by Perez Hilton. He wanted to know if she believed the rest of America should follow Vermont's example and legalize gay marriage. The young woman, a picture perfect example of what we all imagine an American beauty pageant winner looks like (or at least did look like in the 1950's -- wavy tresses of golden hair, sun-kissed skin and blinding white teeth), stumbled for a few moments, " In my country..." she stammered, then regained her composure, and continued, "in my family, I think...that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman." She quickly went on to say that she meant no offense to anyone, but that's how she was raised and it is what she believes.
That night, immediately following the pageant, Mr. (now here's a place where "Ms." seems slightly more appropriate) Hilton, video blogged a scathing commentary on her answer. He called Prejean a "dumb bitch" and went on to recite what he thought she should have said. He believes that the answer she gave was one that inspired division, not unity, and that is the reason he was thrilled she did not take the crown. Apparently her stand against same-sex marriage had nothing to do with it.
I propose that Mr. Perez's question inspired division, not Miss Prejean's response; not to mention that referring to her as a "dumb bitch" didn't exactly win over anyone who was already sure that same-sex marriage would be the death of us all.
Subsequent to that evening, there's been a lot of hoopla about the Miss California organization paying for Prejean's breast augmentation, and some photos of her modeling panties, covering her top half with her arms. Some are even calling for her to be stripped of her state crown. The sudden interest in these technicalities of pageant business must be seen in light of her controversial response to Hilton's question. If she had given the "correct" answer, would anyone be gunning for her like this?
Once again, I find myself rooting for the "other team" -- and I don't mean gays and lesbians. I adamantly disagree with Miss Prejean, but she was asked her opinion, and she gave it. I believe, in my heart and soul that same-sex marriage is where we are heading. It's a matter of equal rights under the law, and will, I believe, eventually be battled out, and won, in the courts if it doesn't get worked out at the ballot box. Miss California's argument against same sex marriage, and my argument for it are, ultimately, immaterial. Thank god, in "my country," we have a Constitution, and a Bill of Rights and eventually, although sometimes inelegantly, we get to the fair and just answers to such questions. But on our way there, don't we all deserve to say our peace without fear of reprisal? Prejean did not attack homosexuality; she was not violent or cruel. She simply stated what she believed, and only after she was asked.
I would tell Miss Prejean, if she were interested, that her answer was imprudent -- not because it goes against what is good and decent, but because, once you alienate gay men, who, besides other pageant participants, a few little girls and Donald Trump, really finds beauty pageants relevant anyway? The entire conceit of Miss... anything, in this day and age, is a bit of an anachronism. I know, I know, the winner gets a scholarship...blah, blah, blah...and I'm sure I'll get lots of flack for saying it, but asking women who are being judged largely for swanning around in swimsuits and evening gowns, their opinions on burning social topics of the day is a bit like requiring your dental hygienist to hold a degree in medicine.
So, why don't we all take it down a notch? Perez, how about sticking to questions like, "If you had a super power, what would it be?" and Miss Prejean, please don't become the poster girl for "opposite marriage." Miss USA should beautiful, poised and, above all, agreeable.
Then again, maybe I've got this all wrong. Perez Hilton will be invited back to judge next year and the pageant will be a ratings winner when people tune in to see what he'll say. Carrie Prejean will be the next superstar Fox commentator and get her own show. The ugly business of beauty pageants will continue, and the wheels of justice will grind slow, to their fine, and inevitable destination.