Scholarships? Miss America Pageant? What’s Up?

HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver aired a program on the Miss America Pageant and posted it to YouTube on September 21, 2014.  John’s question of the day: Is  the Miss America Pageant really the largest provider of scholarships for women in the country?  Here’s the video:

John Oliver makes some great points and raises several questions.  The two I like best are:

Is the Miss America Pageant telling the truth about the scholarships?

Depends on what you mean by “provide.”  And even that is stretching it.  The Miss America Pageant claims that they provide $45,000,000 in scholarships to women EVERY year.  Oliver was only able to come up with less than $4,000,000 after reviewing the national and 33 states’ Miss America Pageant’s federal non-profit Form 990 statements.  That’s less than 10% of the total the Miss America Pageant claims they give out.

So what does “provide” mean?  Apparently, it is a smoke and mirrors word.  The Miss America Pageant works with college admissions and finance offices throughout the country to set up scholarships that are given directly to pageant winners.  The winner of each contest will receive the scholarship if and only if she goes to one of the schools within her state (or anywhere in the country if she’s a national winner) that has an agreement with the Miss America Foundation for this scholarship award.  And here’s the kicker.  The Miss America Pageant adds up the value of EACH of these college’s scholarship and adds that amount of scholarship “money” to the “total” amount of scholarships provided (BUT not guaranteed to be distributed) each year.  Regardless of whether or not the scholarship is used!

Here in my home state of Pennsylvania, Oliver reports that there are four colleges that provide this scholarship – Delaware Valley College, Carlow College, Cedar Crest College, and Arcadia University. They are all small, private colleges located in the Philadelphia, Allentown, and Pittsburgh areas.

My thoughts on this.

First…Women don’t usually become Miss America contestants until after starting college.  I believe it is highly unlikely that a college Junior or Senior would transfer to a private four-year college in her last year or so just to get this scholarship.  Particularly if it is only a partial scholarship, if her area of study is  not offered by one of these schools, and if she knows that a transfer would require more time in school because of differing graduation course requirements set up by each school.

Second… No one can clone themselves  — even twins (I know. I’m a twin).  So if a woman should win a full scholarship and be willing to transfer to one of these schools, and be willing to extend her education to complete her education, how can the Pageant say that they “provide” four times the amount of funds to a winner that is never going to attend the other three schools (in the case of the Pennsylvania example).

Is this objectification of women appropriate?

Even if the Miss America Pageant was providing $45,000,000 in scholarships on an annual basis, is the objectification of these women appropriate?  Why do they have a focus on never having been pregnant? Why do they have a focus on never having been married?  Why are the women still being required to prance around in bikinis and high heels?  Looks to me like the Pageant is looking for a sex object who is also a virgin to be placed on a pedestal.

What do you think?

Does the Miss America Pageant objectify women?

Should the swimsuit and heals event be eliminated?

Should the Miss America Pageant change their scholarship advertising to be more accurate?

Alternative Scholarships

If you are interested in a scholarship program for women, why not look for one that doesn’t objectify women and distributes the money to women without the use of smoke and mirrors?

Here are the links to the women’s scholarship funds that John mentioned on air:
Society of Women Engineers: http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/
Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund: www.rankinfoundation.org
Patsy Mink Foundation: www.patsyminkfoundation.org

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

PA Senate: Remove Preemptive Language Amendment on Domestic Violence Bill

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

Stop Violence Against Women NOW

On March 12, I wrote a blog about the “Shenanigans in the PA Senate.” The day before my blog, the PA Senate essentially eviscerated a bill that makes it illegal for communities to evict a domestic violence victim from her home for calling 911 “too often.”  The Senate Local Government Committee gutted HB 1796 by denying local communities creating paid and/or unpaid sick leave ordinances which threatens victims of domestic violence with loss of their livelihood if they have to take off from work to protect themselves or their family members and cannot get paid or unpaid sick leave that goes beyond federal or state law.

Because of concerns raised by advocates, the Senate so far has not taken the bill to the floor for debate and a vote.  However, this morning, the Senate posted their floor calendar for Tuesday, September 16.  On the agenda is this bill for third and final consideration.  That means that it is likely to be voted on after some debate.

Over the last month, 157 individuals and human rights, anti-violence, public health, and legal services organizations signed onto a letter to the entire Senate calling on them to remove the preemptive employment leave language adopted in Senate Local
Government Committee and pass a clean bill as originally passed in the House.

Here is that letter; FYI, I am one of the signees:

HB 1796_Sign on Letter

Please take a moment and call your Pennsylvania State Senator and tell him/her to remove the preemptive employment leave language and pass a clean bill.  You can find your Senator’s contact information here.

Thank you.

The Rape Myth Problem Within the Judicial System

You probably have heard this before:
“She asked for it.” “She didn’t say no.” “She really meant ‘yes’ when she said ‘no.’” “She looks older than her chronological age.” “She [a minor] was as much in control of the situation as the defendant [her teacher when he raped her].” “Well, you know, this wasn’t this forcible, beat-up type rape.” “Even though she was drunk, she consented and knew what she was doing.” “Well boys will be boys; what else would you expect?” “She just ‘cried’ rape.” “It didn’t happen. She’s lying ‘cause she wants revenge.” “She could have prevented it if she… had only tried hard enough… had fought back more… etc.” These are all rape myth statements that have been heard in the courtroom as well as out in the public arena.
The flowing article was written by me for Pennsylvania NOW on their website.
This article gives an overview of problems in the judicial system when judges and others rely on this form of gender bias in their courtroom. Pennsylvania NOW posted the original of this article on August 31 and Central Oregon Coast NOW reblogged it. Thanks everyone for spreading the word about this problem and showing others what can be done to push back on this form of misogyny in the judiciary.

Central Oregon Coast NOW

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“She asked for it.” “She didn’t say no.” “She really meant ‘yes’ when she said ‘no.’” “She looks older than her chronological age.” “She [a minor] was as much in control of the situation as the defendant [her teacher when he raped her].” “Well, you know, this wasn’t this forcible, beat-up type rape.” “Even though she was drunk, she consented and knew what she was doing.” “Well boys will be boys; what else would you expect?” “She just ‘cried’ rape.” “It didn’t happen. She’s lying ‘cause she wants revenge.” “She could have prevented it if she… had only tried hard enough… had fought back more… etc.”

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This Cringe Worthy Email From A Recruiter Shows The Daily Nightmare Faced By Women In IT

These type of comments are creepy, sexist and occur in all fields of occupation, particularly in non-traditional work. Cat calls are the most blatant. Ones like these that put down women for their brains that are also be accompanied by what she looks like are just as demeaning and are a from of sexual harassment, imho.  They create a hostile work environment based on gender.

Central Oregon Coast NOW

AUTHOR: KERRY-ANNESEPTEMBER 1, 2014 6:10 AM

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This is not a come-on between two users of an internet dating site, but a genuine first approach by a male IT recruitment consultant, to a female software developer.  It neatly sums up the daily nightmare of sexism faced by women in the world of IT.

The recruiter opens his email,  entitled “are you for real???” as follows:

“I want to start by asking if you are a real developer? Lol, sorry if that rubs you the wrong way but you are a beautiful well educated young woman whose professional career is in software development.”

Because of course, how could a pretty little thing like her possibly know her Java from her SPARK (programming languages, keep up people)?

The cringe worthy approach was made through professional networking site LinkedIn.  Rather than fuming silently, the woman in question  posted a screenshot of the…

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