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iOne Creative Miss USA

Source: iOne Creative / iOne Creative

For the second year in a row, a Black woman from the District of Columbia has been crowned Miss USA. However, many of the headlines about Kara McCullough’s history making win have instead focused on the, er, interesting answers she gave during the pageant’s Q+A segment.

When asked if healthcare is a right or a privilege, the 25-year-old surprised some viewers with what sounded like a somewhat MAGA-friendly answer.

“I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege,” said McCullough, a physical scientist for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  “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 so that we’re given the opportunities to have healthcare as well as jobs for all Americans worldwide.”

To be fair, it’s unclear whether she believes healthcare should be a privilege, or if she was simply explaining how she thinks it functions in our society at the moment. What was clear, however, was her lack of understanding about gender equality. In the final round of questioning, the South Carolina State University grad was asked about the role of feminism in today’s society and if she considered herself a feminist:

“So, as a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to maybe transpose the word feminism to “equalism.” I don’t really wanna consider myself… I try not to consider myself, like this… like diehard, you know, like “aww, I don’t really care about men.” But one thing I’m going to say is that, women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace. And I say firsthand, I’ve witnessed the impact that women have in leadership and the medical sciences, as well as in just the office environment. So as Miss USA, I would hope to promote that type of leadership responsibility globally, to so many women worldwide.”

Feminism has been a topic of discussion for far too long for the newbie queen not to, well, know what it is.

This is one of those answers that sounds like it was crafted to be apolitical and inoffensive to anyone, which might make it kinda perfect for a pageant (and maybe it was, considering that she won and all). However, it’s 2017 and it’s pretty fair to expect a bit more of someone on the public stage.

Feminism has been a topic of discussion for far too long for the newbie queen not to, well, know what it is. There are a lot of ways to say “I stand for gender equality for all, even if I may not use that particular word to describe myself” without playing to the myth that feminism somehow antagonizes or disenfranchises men.

Here’s hoping the new Miss USA will be gifted a copy of Chimamanda Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists or bell hooks’ Feminism Is for Everybody, and that even if she decides that she wants to reject feminism all together…she’ll be able to do so while saying words that make sense. In the meantime, shout out to her for the win and serving “great gowns, beautiful gowns.”