On Sunday, May 14, 25-year-old Miss District of Columbia and scientist, Kara McCullough, was crowned the new Miss United States. She was praised for her win earlier in the week, as she brought more visibility to communities such as that of women in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, as well as being a woman of color. The praise was short-lived, however, when audiences began to dwell on her question and answer portion a little further.
Upon being asked 'What do you consider feminist to be and do you consider yourself a feminist?’, McCullough’s answer stunned the feminist community.
“So as a woman scientist in the government, I'd like to transpose the word feminism to equalism, I try not to consider myself this die hard, like, ‘I don't really care about men’. ”
She then went on to elaborate the reason behind using the word ‘equalism', stating that women are 'just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace' and recounts an experience in her own field of science where she states the impact women can have on leadership.
When there were only five finalists remaining, they were then asked 'Do you think affordable healthcare for all US citizens is a right or a privilege and why?’ to which McCullough goes on to say 'I'm definitely going to say it's a privilege,'As a government employee, I'm granted healthcare. And I see firsthand that for one, to have healthcare, you need to have jobs, so therefore we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we're given the opportunities to have health care as well as jobs for all American citizens worldwide.'
Despite the clarifications, feminists still take issue with the initial quote in which it claims that feminism is a man-hating movement.
One viewer tweets “So I’m glad the new miss USA is a black girl with natural hair buuuuuut someone needs to educate her on feminism (and health care) because” and closes with a .gif of Nikki Minaj.
Another tweet: “When D.C still wins despite her ignorant answers on feminism and health care” as well as closing with another .gif.
Among the overwhelming majority of tweets, however, are centered around the remark on feminism and not health care, which in itself is interesting. In the bulk majority are tweets in which state she "does not know the true meaning of feminism" and ask "how can you be Miss USA and not know the definition of feminism?"
It is interesting in the fact that the users who claim to want equality for women can not respect a woman's opinion to not identify as a feminist. It is clear that her intentions are good as she mentions women and men's equality in the work place, which is often a core argument feminists tend to use. A woman of color in a STEM field who believes in the equality of men and women is a modern feminists dream symbol, however whens he refuses to use the label of a feminist because of her own perception of the group, it is an issue for the woman in discussion to think for herself. The issue is not that she sees women as lower than men, but that she refuses to associate as something she sees often in a negative light.
Her answers were both perfectly reasonable and sensible, as she draws from her own experience and worded them well enough that her point was received and respectfully put, yet not even her degree in STEM could save her from the insulting remarks on her intelligence. It is often said as a joke, but it could never be more clear that feminists just do not understand that "no means no" when women simply do not like the label. Feminists advocate for women to be held at an equal plane as men, yet when a woman voices her opinion, she is suddenly not an equal. Feminists often generalize men, but do not like to be the group generalized.
It is a shame that a beautiful and smart woman who has worked hard is being put at the brunt of the situation because she simply does not use the label that the modern female population seems to thrust upon any female in the spotlight with petty and insensitive remarks. In the end, she has her beliefs, and, if the definition were to be taken from the dictionary like it so often is, she does believe in the original core power of feminism, but in an ironic twist, it is not men or non-feminists who are attacking her for her power or her belief, it is the very group in which is offended to be called hateful.