Porn Stars and Beauty Queens

Any lovers of irony or fans of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 out there? If so, I have a story for you...

So it turns out that Melissa King, a girl who did some porn to be able to make the money necessary to enter a beauty pageant, ended up losing her Miss Delaware crown for having been in said porn... oh irony of ironies...

Before my rant, because I do have a couple of things to say, here's the story:




Obviously, given the puritanical attitude our society has toward sexuality and how quick we are to condemn stuff that we privately can't live without, that wasn't the smartest choice on her part, but the real problem is the hypocrisy and double standards created by beauty pageants: on the one hand, they don't want their contestants to engage in public displays of sexuality, and punish them when they do; on the other hand, beauty pageants are in the business of objectifying women and exploiting their sexuality. Sure, they pretend that it's about etiquette, sophistication, intelligence, grace, talent and so on, but you know the kind of debacle you get when you actually ask these girls even simple questions whose answers are not as simple as "world peace."

Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against shallow physical attraction, or even against using our bodies to achieve certain ends, provided no one gets hurt or exploited in the process. I have no objection to the "beauty" aspect of beauty pageants, and I have absolutely no problem with the sexiness of non-exploitative porn (those assholes that try to degrade girls in their videos really are douchebags, though, and should be castrated).

If we think that it's okay to employ someone based on their intellectual abilities, it strikes me as hypocritical that we couldn't do the same for physical attributes. In fact, we do! That's what professional sports are about. It's only when it comes to sex that everyone gets bent out of shape. But here's the thing, as a person, you are both a mind and a body. To focus only on one of these to the exclusion of the other is to really objectify you, to ignore the totality of who and what you are, and to focus only on the part of you, whatever it may be, that turns you into some kind of object. Given this basic reality, it is probably impossible not to objectify people.

My problem with beauty pageants is the farce, the hypocrisy, the claim that you can't use your own body to express your sexuality unless they get to use your body for their purposes, the idea that displaying your body in their parade is okay, but that displaying it in a video somewhere else is not. You might say that beauty pageants want to set a good example for younger girls, and porn doesn't do that for obvious reasons, but here's the thing: neither do beauty pageants. Beauty pageants teach young, impressionable girls that the most important thing in the world is to be beautiful, not smart, not educated, not curious, not interesting... beautiful above all else. When was the last time you saw a fat or ugly chick win one of these pageants, no matter how interesting, articulate or intelligent she may have been? Hell, have you even seen them participate, let alone win? And worse, because beauty pageants are deemed as socially acceptable, they are more pernicious than porn. Most little girls don't want to grow up to be a porn star, but lots of them do want to be princesses and beauty pageant queens.... and we wonder why we have a problem of female under-representation in academically challenging subjects...

And another thing that's been bothering me for a while now is the number of people whose professional careers are ruined because of personal choices they've made in the past (or concurrently), and that have absolutely nothing to do with their jobs. Why are we punishing people for living their own lives? If you are a doctor during the week, and then make sexy videos on Saturdays, and you don't botch up your surgeries, what business is it of anyone else's to tell you you can no longer work for a particular hospital because of what you do on your own time?

If I go to the doctor, what matters is her ability to treat whatever is ailing me, not her personal choices (at least not if they will not affect my physical health); if I go to a lawyer, his weird foot fetish has absolutely no relevance to my corporate merger; if I attend a lecture, the professor's pole dancing skills at the strip club last weekend has nothing to do with her lesson on epigenetics; if I get arrested by a police officer, I don't get to resist on the grounds that I've seen videos of her naked online...

I may pass personal judgment on any of these people, or not, but why should they lose their jobs because other people and their delicate sensibilities are offended?

And the saddest thing in this story, having seen her video by now, is that this poor girl doesn't even have a future in porn: she kinda sucks... She really got screwed  :(
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