The Creepy Side of Pageants

Content warning: includes descriptions of attempts to coerce sex.

Both pornography and pageantry are often criticized for a slew of reasons. Every once in a while they collide. Just last month, the winner of Miss Delaware Teen USA resigned amid allegations that she had done porn. According to some accounts, once she turned 18 she did some porn and entered some pageants because she was strapped for cash. I recently linked to a post in which Amanda Hess wrote:

Now she’s being publicly shamed by former friends and international news organizations because a pretty young woman like her can publicly compete for money in a beauty pageant, or she can collect some cash in amateur porn, but she’s not allowed to do both at the same time. Thirty years after Vanessa Williams was pushed from her Miss America pedestal over leaked nude photos, we’re still breathlessly reporting on the moral fiber of these fallen beauty queens without stopping to assess the hazy value judgments being passed.

Hess goes on to point to the similarities between the picture beauty pageants and amateur porn sites convey: “the sexy-yet-virginal girl-next door who parades around for the public in skimpy swimwear, but saves sex for that special someone” and “the good girl gone bad—for the very first time.” Of course, only one of these things is seen as okay for women to be involved in.

And now there’s this account of a what a woman encountered when she tried to get into the competition for Miss California USA:

When the two met later that week, Rodriguez showed up without any paperwork and asked Ashleigh to get inside his car. She felt uncomfortable but got inside; he was an official Miss USA recruiter, after all, and she had come this far. Once the doors were closed, Rodriguez told Ashleigh that the agreement wasn’t written. It was oral.

“Basically, I had to give him head and other ‘sexual favors’ if I wanted to be on the cover of the magazine,” Ashleigh said. Rodriguez explained that this was simply the “fast track” that 90% of all successful actors and models took to the top: if she performed additional sexual favors for the powerful men on the modeling circuit, her path to fame would be guaranteed.

Ashleigh said Rodriguez asked her to “prove herself” right there in the Starbucks parking lot. When she looked upset, he let her out of the car and told her to think it over. Instead, she spoke with an officer at the Tracy Police Department the very next day. But because Rodriguez hadn’t actually forced her to go down on him, the incident was a civil matter, not a criminal one.

That line between porn and pageant just keeps getting thinner, doesn’t it?

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