At the 2017 Miss USA Pageant, Miss District of Columbia, Kára McCullough, was asked: “What do you consider feminism to be, and do you consider yourself a feminist?” McCullough went on to win the pageant and be crowned Miss USA, but her answer to that question was a controversial one. “As a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word feminism to equalism,” she said to applause from the crowd. “I try not to consider myself this die-hard, like, I don’t really care about men — but one thing I really want to say is women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.”
Her answer, while loudly supported in the pageant room, was sharply criticized by women online.
— Maeve McDermott (@maeve_mcdermott) May 15, 2017
— Makho Ndlovu (@makhondlovu) May 15, 2017
Taking the BUILD stage in her final lap as Miss USA, McCullough addressed last year’s “equalist” answer. When asked at BUILD if she would answer the same way if asked if she were a feminist this year, McCullough said, “One thing I will say I’ve learned throughout my reign as Miss USA is you always have to stand behind what you say. So, to answer your question, yes, I would still answer that the same.”
“I’m always here to support women,” she added, “and I’m here to actually open up healthy discussions and dialogues. I believe that’s what my answers onstage actually created for so many people around the world. If we’re all thinking the same, there’s a problem.”
When this year’s Miss USA Pageant airs on May 21, we’ll be listening to see if that question is asked again — and if this year’s contestants are willing to claim a passion for equal rights, as feminists.
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