And that’s when it dawned on me: Miss America is Twitter.
The questions were undeniably skewed toward issues people yell at each other about in comment sections, and definitely chosen for their schadenfreude potential. (Between that and the intentionally hilarious non sequitur pop-up facts during the talent portion — “Attacked by a cheetah in Zambia” — I wondered if Harrison had also been hired as a producing consultant.) We wanted to see one of these women put her foot in her mouth, and we knew there was a good chance of it, because it is almost impossible to talk about a divisive issue with a limited time/character limit and do it well. And even if you succeed, the chance it makes any lasting impact is small.
When it comes to Important Shit, almost nobody can say everything in 140 characters or 20 seconds. In both pageants and social media, it’s absurd that we are ever asked/feel pressure to express ourselves that way, and that our worth would be assessed on that short a missive, but it’s also kind of our fault for buying into the race in the first place. Not everyone should be asked for their thoughts on how we deal with ISIS. (And some people totally should be!) We’re all just making our way through our feeds in bikinis and sashes: exposed, princess-waving, trying to justify our word count. Sometimes our talents are appreciated, sometimes they aren’t. And more often than not, we’re just grateful when someone isn’t a complete racist.
Excerpted from the best thing I’ve read in six months*.
Previously and unrelated.
“I’m very familiar with the narrow set of parameters for ‘acceptable’ dress and behavior among women and female-assigned people in STEM. We’re supposed to look polished — but not too polished, or we’re read as prissy girls who don’t want to get our hands dirty in the lab. We’re supposed to be attractive — but not too attractive, or we’re viewed as a distraction and face liability in the field. We’re supposed to be feminine and smile a lot — but not too much, or our numerous male coworkers assume we’re pushovers. Gendered double standards aren’t exclusive to STEM, but for women who work in those fields, they’re an unavoidable reality.”
“Seven hundred million photographs and videos are shared on Snapchat every day. Every minute, another hundred hours of video are added to YouTube, and nearly thirty thousand photographs appear on Instagram. Facebook mounts four thousand photographs every second. ‘The miraculous is everywhere,’ a Sprint ad for the iPhone promises. ‘We can share every second in data dressed as pixels, a billion roving photojournalists uploading the human experience, and it is spectacular.’ And it is spectacular. But a billion roving photojournalists are uploading, too, the unending, unsparing collective misery of humanity.”
—Jill Lepore on summer, death, and the Internet.