Dear Tell All: Your remarks on the women in the Miss USA pageant as "meat" and "cattle" were deeply misogynistic, even if intended in the service of feminist ideology, and even if directed at a woman who repudiates gay marriage. In any case, people don't like looking at meat, they like eating it. But they do like looking at art and gardens. These would be better metaphors for beautiful women.
Dear Queen Mother: I'm misogynistic? The Miss USA pageant treats women like pieces of meat, not me. I merely pointed it out. I noted that the infamous anti-gay contestant Carrie Prejean "showed the camera her butt, legs and breasts as if her parts were being judged at a cattle show. Indeed, the judges assessed her flanks and rump with demeaning scores: 9.033 for swimsuit, 9.275 for an evening gown slit all the way up to her pubic hair."
I think we're so inured to beauty pageants that we don't even register how bizarre they are. Indeed, I predict that they will look as bizarre to future generations as certain once-respectable institutions (gladiatorial combat, say) look to us. Maniacally smiling, almost-identical women are graded on their anatomical correctness using a decimal-point scale. Is this a civilized way to treat a human being? Would NBC air a similar prime-time competition assessing male body parts?
The media help keep pageants in the mainstream by handling them as legitimate news rather than freak shows. The Wisconsin State Journal's Tom Alesia, for example, wrote a straight-faced preview of the Miss Madison pageant last February. Isthmus' coverage of Miss Madison was even worse on TheDailyPage.com. Writer Phil Ejercito bought into the pageant hype: "it's hard to find fault with the earnest enthusiasm of the participants, who really do see this as a scholarship competition rather than a beauty contest." Tell me, Phil, would you maintain your sense of self-worth if you had to show your ass to a roomful of strangers in exchange for a scholarship?
You request that we compare pageant contestants to art or gardens, Queen Mother. Instead, how about we treat women as more than just objects to look at? How about we treat them as, you know, people?