Marissa Powell, Miss Utah of 2013, caught the viral flame at Sunday’s Miss USA Pageant and because she gave a rambling answer to a question she should have nailed: “If 40 percent of women are the bread winners in the house, yet don’t get equal pay as men, what does it say about our society.” That was the paraphrased question, but if you like, here’s the actual one:
“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?”
And here’s Marissa Powell’s 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, and, seen as the leaders of this. So we need to try to figure out how to create education better so that we can solve this problem. Thank you.”
The problem here is simple: a woman who wants to win a beauty pageant should be able to show she’s more than just a pretty face – she’s got a head on her shoulders. Here’s a question about income inequality that she should nail, but she doesn’t. We have too many people in this society – OK, I’ll say it: too many conservative Utah-type women who form their political ideas based on the kind of male figure they value, and they don’t question that.
How else to understand why a woman could support a GOP platform that’s anti-female? When I’ve asked women who have these points of view to back them, their counter-arguments have nothing to do with fact, and all to do with conservative ideas that are expressed in canned answers they got from Fox News. So, when it comes to dealing with a question that’s not obviously from the right vs. left debate cycle, and are based on social statistics, someone like Marissa Powell gets tripped up.
And it’s no wonder she’s being compared to Caitlin Upton, the Miss South Carolina of 2007, who was asked this question at the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant:
“Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?”
This was Ms. Upton’s answer:
I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh, people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future…
Now the difference between the two is that Ms. Upton, now 24 years old, was just 18 years old at the time. Heck, she was a teen! But Marissa Powell is 20, and has attended college at both Westminster College and Brigham Young University, though her online bio doesn’t indicate that she graduated from ether school. But the bottom line is, she’s not a teen, and is expected to perform better on her feet in front of the cameras.
The overall problem is we embrace anti-intellectualism. In other words, basic Americans hate smart people. Given the choice, we’d rather spend money on the military over education, and it’s no wonder that adjusted for inflation, education spending has not increased each year since 1985 – it took a dip in 1993 before rebounding, but not by much. And it’s no matter that we spend more than other countries, it’s what we’re doing now versus what we’ve done before.
And on that, it should be noted that Utah ranks at the bottom in education spending.
But for me, it’s more than money, its method, and we’re not keeping pace with the rapid rate of information being thrown at kids today, or for the last ten years. We don’t know how to show them how to process all of it to make a decision, because we don’t know how to do it ourselves.
Ok, I’m rapping this up, but I’m glad Marissa Powell flubbed because it shows us where we are, or where we are not, in the advance of the ability to think.