Dear Tell All: When I heard that Miss Wisconsin had won the Miss America pageant this month, I just thought "whatever" and went about my business. In 2012, most people know that beauty pageants are a sexist embarrassment, right? Maybe they tune in to laugh or gawk, but no one takes them seriously.
At least that's what I thought until I started seeing state and local media treat Laura Kaeppeler's victory as a credit to Wisconsin, something to be proud of after the Packers' loss. A breathless Wisconsin State Journal report from Kaeppeler's hometown of Kenosha - earnestly quoting her intention to "remain true to who I am" - is the last straw.
People, have we taken leave of our senses?
Check out the clips online to see the pageant set women back a half-century. Kaeppeler and her fellow contestants wear teeny-weeny bikinis and high heels so the judges can score their assets. Male viewers are invited to leer as the women shake their butts for the camera, suggesting that this is the proper way to assess the female sex.
Imagine assessing men in the same way. Would Wisconsinites take the butt-shaking winner of a Mr. America pageant seriously? Of course not, and they shouldn't take Miss America seriously, either.
The pageant's sop to "intelligence" is absurd, as the contestants are given 20 seconds to tackle profound questions about politics and economics in their evening gowns. In this demeaning format, the women can't help but look like idiots, as with this typical answer: "It's our responsibility to take responsibility for our actions." One could argue that the pageant self-selects for idiots, since brains are obviously a low priority.
Our media should be ashamed for accepting the notion that a woman's worth comes down to her body parts, and that Laura Kaeppeler's parts have brought glory to Wisconsin.
Dear Stupefied: I can't address an issue this big in the newspaper equivalent of 20 seconds. So help me out, readers. Has Laura Kaeppeler brought glory or shame to Wisconsin?