“We Fun Scholars”: Miss America and the Pageantry of Giving

Miss America screenshotMake your Tuesday vastly better by watching John Oliver’s hilarious and scathing video indictment / expose of the Miss America pageant. What really attracts his attention, though, is not the butt glue or the televised 20-second-answers to complex foreign policy questions. It’s Miss America’s claim that it’s the biggest provider of scholarships for women, offering $45 million a year. “That’s unbelievable!” he says. “As in, I literally did not believe it.”

With good reason.

As Quartz points out:

That turns out to be only virtually true: in theory, all the money is made available, but in reality Miss America ends up spending only about a tenth of the sum in scholarships. What’s especially troubling is that the organization is indeed the biggest provider of scholarships in the US exclusively for women. Not only is the sum itself abysmally low, it is distributed among women chosen first for their looks. Oliver sums it up in one sentence, which, in the wake of Emma Watson’s excellent speech at the UN, perfectly explains why, in 2014, we still very much need feminism.

“Currently, the biggest scholarship program exclusively for women in America requires you to be unmarried, with a mint condition uterus, and also rewards working knowledge of butt adhesive technology.”

Stick around for the video’s surprise twist conclusion! Although the surprise is not that Miss America apologizes for anything, or that it turns out anyone else does indeed offer more money to women scholars than they do.



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