Miss California deserved the “assholes” tag

I put up this post taking Miss California to task for her anti-gay views, and a few commenters objected to the fact that I tagged the post “assholes” (others wondered what made Miss CA so different from Barack Obama). Here’s your answer:

The reigning Miss California has gone to Washington to help launch a campaign opposing same-sex marriage.

Carrie Prejean told NBC’s “Today” show Thursday that she’ll be working with the National Organization for Marriage to “protect traditional marriages.”

The 21-year-old says that marriage is “something that is very dear to my heart” and she’s in Washington to help save it.

Sorry guys, but Prejean doesn’t just have the “personal belief” that marriage is between a man and a woman; she wants to legislate that belief for all of us. And that makes her an asshole.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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35 Responses to Miss California deserved the “assholes” tag

  1. The 21-year-old says that marriage is “something that is very dear to my heart” and she’s in Washington to help save it.

    It’s something dear to her heart ever since people started making a big fuss over it. Her original answer, while bigoted and nigh-incomprehensible, didn’t suggest that we shouldn’t have a CHOICE. (Or, what J Smooth said).

    It’s too bad there isn’t a Opportunist Sellout pageant. There’s some awesome competition for it this year, but I think she has a pretty good shot at that crown.

  2. Renee says:

    Ashhole is the perfect label for her. If she does not believe in same sex marriage rather than curtailing the rights of others she should simply avoid marrying a woman. Why do these fundies feel they have the right to control the lives of others?

  3. Everyone talks about how the poor dear gave up the crown in order to “defend marriage”, but it seems that things have worked out much better for her this way. Who’s even heard of Miss USA before now? Miss Prejean, we’ve all heard of her.

  4. Josh Jasper says:

    The stupid thing is that, if Perez Hilton hadn’t been nasty to her in public, she’d have remained silent. So if one gay person is mean to her, they all have to suffer.

    What a petty, worthless excuse for a human being.

  5. Thomas says:

    I’m kind of amazed that they even ask political questions at beauty pageants.

    Actually, I’m kind of amazed that we have beauty pageants at all but that’s a whole different hill of silicone and illegally imported whale products.

    If there’s going to be an Q&A, how about some questions that are qualitatively meaningful rather than topical.

    Explain the second law of thermodynamics.
    How did deterrent power blocks contribute to the start of the first world war?
    Smith or Keynes?
    How would you use music as a tool for teaching mathematics to primary school aged children?
    What do you feel is the greatest legacy of Dadaism?

    Gay marriage, really? Of all the questions that the pageant organizers could ask, they picked that one, and probably by committee, no less.

    Beauty pageants: almost as idiotic as sports!

  6. Renee says:

    @Personal Failure
    You are absolutely right about that. Unfortunately because she received so much attention from her inarticulate commentary she is going to spin this to the hilt and achieve the kind of fame that winning the pageant would never have accorded her. Had Hilton’s response been calm and measured rather than implying that she is a c@nt and outright calling her a bitch this would have long since blown over as no one takes the words of a beauty queen seriously to begin with. For him it was all about getting media attention far more than it was about him being incensed by what she had to say.

  7. Thomas says:

    Requiring the contestants to answer questions that people feel engaged about is, IMO, perfectly appropriate. The scholarship thing has always been a relatively thin veneer; there is no pretense of academic merit, so why ask about the Second Law of Thermodynamics? The contests are entertainment; political questions produce answers that people will want to watch and talk about.

  8. William says:

    Had Hilton’s response been calm and measured rather than implying that she is a c@nt and outright calling her a bitch this would have long since blown over as no one takes the words of a beauty queen seriously to begin with. For him it was all about getting media attention far more than it was about him being incensed by what she had to say.

    You know, I’m sick of all this talk about measured and calm reactions to bigots. Sorry, Hilton might have said some things I don’t like, but there comes a time when the aggressively stupid need to be publicly mocked and shamed. She’s linked herself to the people who brought us the homostorm, and we’re supposed to play the good guy? Fuck that, drag the whole conflict out into light of day, have a little fun, and let the next piece of human garbage who decides they want to crusade for the advancement of human oppression think twice about the welcome they’re likely to receive.

    GLBTQ rights in America wasn’t always measured press releases from HRC and nonthreatening spokespeople playing good guy. Once upon a time it was about flipping over police cars, physically preventing arrests, and refusing to play the passive queer. Why is it that today we’re supposed to play nice?

  9. Dreamweasel says:

    Meet the next Joe the Plumber!

  10. MikeF says:

    Can’t say I’m surprised. I didn’t think her original comments were offensive per se, as she didn’t say anything about imposing her view of marriage on others (if I recall correctly) – but I didn’t defend her, because I suspected that she was just sugar-coating a more bigoted position. And now that’s out in the open, the asshole tag is richly deserved.

  11. Yolanda C. says:

    You know, I’m sick of all this talk about measured and calm reactions to bigots. Sorry, Hilton might have said some things I don’t like, but there comes a time when the aggressively stupid need to be publicly mocked and shamed. She’s linked herself to the people who brought us the homostorm, and we’re supposed to play the good guy?

    William, I totally agree with you on the need to take bigots to the mat over the shit they say and do. However, calling a woman the b-word is in itself an act of bigotry. Rage at one form of oppression ain’t no excuse for perpetuating another. If oppressed communities start attacking each other rather than the bastards in charge, then where does it end?

    From my vantage point, Prejean and Hilton hold equal standing as assholes.

  12. piny says:

    What William said. I do get a little, “I choose ME!” when I hear people like Perez Hilton using misogynist language–because hoo boy–but the man’s not trying to repeal women’s suffrage or pass the Defense of Marital Rape Act. He doesn’t believe that women should be second-class citizens, or see formal equality as an assault on his civil rights and religious beliefs.

    Bigotry sucks. Bigoted legislative activism sucks way more.

    The anti-gay faction continually regroups around new lines of civility, too–not too long ago, the legislative battle was over forcing gay people to register as sex offenders. Now that position is beyond the pale, and civil-union opposition might soon follow. So yes, I think it’s important that we as activists stress the insults bound up in all of this values rhetoric.

  13. Manju says:

    “what made Miss CA so different from Barack Obama”

    The real difference is that Prejean’s being genuine while Obama’s lying. That’s what makes her so despicable and Obama so virtuous. Really.

    Obama’s position is a ruse meant to fool anti-gay bigots into voting him into the White House, where he’ll halt anti-gay legislation, put pro-gay judges on the bench (increasing the possibility of sexual preference getting incorporated into the 14th amendment) and perhaps eventually (probably in the 2nd term) use his bully pulpit to back gay marriage outright.

    Now, to ideologues and simpletons such tactics may appear repulsive, but to those of us schooled in the fine art of realpolitik, Machiavelli in particular, such deceptiveness and cunning is a virtue…a necessary trait for an effective and enlightened leader, and ultimately for democratic ideals: liberty and equality under the law.

  14. preying mantis says:

    “Everyone talks about how the poor dear gave up the crown in order to “defend marriage”, but it seems that things have worked out much better for her this way.”

    And here I thought the poor dear gave up the crown when she had a brain-melt moment instead of an answer. At least wingnut welfare is there for her.

  15. GloPan says:

    The silicone from her recent implants, courtesy of the Miss California Organization, may have seeped into her brain and caused a synapse misfire. Bigotry and plastic should not be ingredients in any role model these pageants are trying to sell.

  16. little light says:

    Golly, NOM’s got Orson Scott Card and the runner-up for Miss America. I am shaking in my little queer steeltoed boots.
    Jackasses.

  17. piny says:

    On the other hand, if Miss California had responded with, “Listen, faggot, you have the right to do whatever filthy things you want, but I don’t think the law should be involved in marriage one way or the other,” I would support Hilton in calling not merely for her crown but the head underneath it. So I think Yolanda’s right that we don’t have to ignore hatespeech while complaining about hateful actions.

    But I do think it’s important not to lose the distinction between moral objection and legal discrimination.

  18. Emma says:

    Well, you let me know when Obama does anything to make gay marriage legal. So far, he’s done bupkus. And worse than bupkus, he’s given political legitimacy and Presidential approval to Prop 8 supporters Douglas Kmiec (who served on Obama’s campaign) and Rick Warren (who delivered the invocation at Obama’s inauguration). Further, when Prop 8 supporters used Obama’s own words opposing gay marriage in a robocall, Obama did nothing to stop them or distance himself from them or clarify his position.

    So, frankly, Obama’s done more to legitimize and help the anti-gay marriage movement than Miss CA will ever accomplish.

    One purpose of feminism is to speak truth to power. Unfortunately the feminism on display here can only kiss the ass of power by denigrating women. Congrats!!

  19. piny says:

    Golly, NOM’s got Orson Scott Card and the runner-up for Miss America. I am shaking in my little queer steeltoed boots.
    Jackasses.

    You mean your gay extraterrestrial insect carapace, right?

    And they don’t have the runner-up for Miss America! They have the runner up for Miss USA. It’s a subtle, yet crucial difference–like chocolate and carob, or Bea Arthur and Bette Middler.

  20. UnFit says:

    William, I don’t have a proble with calling a bigot names or getting otherwise very outspoken and/or loud in public over statements like hers.
    But there’s a medium between tipping over police cars and playing the passive queer.

    I’m not saying Perez Hilon, or anyone, has any kind of obligation to be a model spokesperson for the cause or somehting.
    But if instead of just loud and offensive, his response would have been loud, offensine *and* smart/witty/backed up with any kind of content beyond “stupid bitch”, I think that woul have made for even better publicity.

  21. Just saw her on the news, beaming and delivering her homophobic jibberish to CNBC.

    Asshole is the word.

    (Can I just say how relieved I am that it’s not another South Carolina beauty queen making the news this time?)

  22. EKSwitaj says:

    Manju, I hope you’re right about Obama, but I’m curious as to where you get your information about what his real goals are? Yes, that’s right, this simpleton is asking for evidence.

    Anyway, if you really believed that, wouldn’t the logical thing to do be to keep quiet about it and provide him political cover by claiming that he really is anti-gay? I mean, I’ve read Machiavelli too, and I don’t think he would approve of exposing such plans.

  23. William says:

    William, I totally agree with you on the need to take bigots to the mat over the shit they say and do. However, calling a woman the b-word is in itself an act of bigotry.

    I completely agree, and what Perez said makes him an asshole. My point was that I get where he is coming from and why he was angry. He should have thought more carefully about his words, but I can’t fault him for his rage. I was more responding to the perception that Hilton was in the wrong for being mean or making personal attacks. If he’d avoided using gendered insults I wouldn’t have had any problem whatsoever.

  24. William says:

    William, I don’t have a proble with calling a bigot names or getting otherwise very outspoken and/or loud in public over statements like hers.
    But there’s a medium between tipping over police cars and playing the passive queer.

    Sure there is, but theres also a reason that gay rights have moved forward as quickly as they have. I feel that the reason is because early in the movement the most active people just didn’t give a shit who they offended. Hell, they went out of their way to be outrageous, to be dangerous, to be scary, to be shocking. Instead of placidly following in the footsteps of Ghandi they followed in the footsteps Jefferson and there was always that implicit threat of violence behind their activism. The GLBTQ movement wasn’t asking for their rights, they were demanding them. It wasn’t an accident that the early pride parades were held on the anniversary of Stonewall, it was a message that oppression would be resisted violently if necessary.

    I’m all for being smart about your activism, and Hilton certainly wasn’t. Still, Prejean is explicitly arguing for continued overt oppression and discrimination and she has tied herself to a group that has made it clear that they would like to not only prevent gays from being married, but also prevent them from receiving medical care, prevent their children from being safe in school, and prevent them from having the same access to public property as heterosexuals. Calling Prejean a “stupid bitch” shows a lack of wit and decency on Hilton’s part, but I don’t think violence would be an inappropriate response to the kind of assault on civil rights Prejean and her ilk are suggesting.

  25. Pauline says:

    So if I understand this correctly, anyone who wants to work legally, within the system, to change laws is an asshole if they disagree with your opinion?

  26. UnFit says:

    No objections there. I’m all for being out and outrageous and slightly menacing… I’m just also for being smart and articulate, especially if you’re in the spotlight.
    I don’t think those are mutually exclusive.

  27. Jill says:

    Pauline: No. They are assholes if they try to deny other people fundamental rights based on their identities — their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc, whether they do so legally or not. This isn’t just a political disagreement like, say, whether we should raise gas taxes or how strong the role of the federal government should be. This is about basic civil rights, and the fact that we deny some people those rights based on their sexual orientation. It’s not simply a matter of differing opinions.

    Unless, of course, you think that there is no opinion which makes someone an asshole, so long as they use legal means to accomplish it. I’ll just point out there that many atrocities and human rights violations throughout modern history have occurred under the full protection of the law, and through totally legal means, within the system.

  28. markd says:

    ok then where is the outrage that she was demeaned using sexist term, long before she made any appearances.

    Obama was never called the n word b/c he believes the same male/female dicotomy should be involved in marriages.

    so what we have here is double standard. POTUS brings in Rick Warren and I don’t see the A-hole tag applied to him. That surely is working to advance gay marriage by sanctioning Warren as a voice of the State.
    Face it Obama is playing politics with women and gays!

  29. Adam says:

    On the Perez vs Prejean throwdown and tactics: I think William nails it. But the single most important reason LGBTQ rights are advancing rapidly now is that lots of hets know and are friendly with out queers, I think. It’s a lot harder to otherize people when you hang out with them. Which is not to say that one doesn’t get up in the faces of bigots in no uncertain terms when they start trying to push the doors closed again. (I was there for White Night ’79, so I feel whoever it was about the police cars…)

    On “Machiavellian” Obama: I think he’s playing it cool, as he does with quite a few things. He took the public position he took at least partly to get elected, sure–but even if he really believes it, one thing we know about the man is that he’s open to having his mind changed by good argument. I think he’ll appoint progressive (and therefore generally gay-friendly) judges and as the national consensus continues to shift, he’ll shift with it–whether privately or publicly doesn’t really matter to me.

  30. Jill says:

    ok then where is the outrage that she was demeaned using sexist term, long before she made any appearances.

    …in the original post.

    It helps to actually read the links before you comment.

    so what we have here is double standard. POTUS brings in Rick Warren and I don’t see the A-hole tag applied to him.

    See the search box? It helps to use it. Type in “Rick Warren” and see what you come up with. I’ll even help out:

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2008/12/18/ladies-lets-get-the-painful-part-over-first/

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2008/12/17/rick-warren-to-give-inauguration-invocation/

    Wow, check out which tags are applied to those posts!

    Next.

  31. Manju says:

    “Manju, I hope you’re right about Obama, but I’m curious as to where you get your information about what his real goals are? Yes, that’s right, this simpleton is asking for evidence.”

    Well EK, read between the lines. His favorite musicians are miles davis, dylan, and coltrane. What does that tell you about him culturally? His mother practically blead granola. What are the odds he’s actually opposed to gay marriage?

    Plus Obama went on record a few years prior to his bid with more unequivocal statements in defense of gay rights:

    “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

  32. Ouyang Dan says:

    Nope, you are 100% right.

    If you are trying to deny people basic rights and protections based on things like race, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, etc, then you are an asshole.

    Seems Ms. Prejean fits the bill just fine.

    But, uhh…can the silicone jokes stop? That seems like a pretty low blow, to mock a woman based on her appearance or her willingness to conform to societal beauty norms…maybe it’s just me.

  33. Pauline says:

    So then Jill, I presume you think President Obama is an asshole too?

  34. Jill says:

    No, I don’t. Because for the 9,000th time, he is not using his position to agitate AGAINST same-sex marriage rights. I agree that he isn’t doing nearly enough to push FOR marriage equality, but I think it’s far worse to hang one’s hat on anti-marriage activism, the way that Miss California now has.

    But seriously Pauline, can you take up some sort of hobby? Because you’re getting really annoying, coming in here with the same trope over and over and over again.

  35. William says:

    So if I understand this correctly, anyone who wants to work legally, within the system, to change laws is an asshole if they disagree with your opinion?

    I don’t speak for Jill (obviously), but maybe I can point out where the nuance is for me. Disagreement is what makes any system good, dissent is a good thing. I fundamentally believe in a small government, other people fundamentally believe in a larger one, if either of us got our way the result would probably suck, so we temper each other and hope that the compromise hammered out is a good one. In such a situation decorum, calm, and general decency are vital to the process.

    There are, however, points where the discussion can change, points where harsh words become justified and the normal rules of human interaction fail. Those points come when one party wants to violate the inalienable rights of another. At that point someone has removed themselves from polite society, they have decided to agitate for tyranny, they become a threat to the most basic ideals of modern western liberalism. When that opposition to basic human liberty is based solely in hatred advanced by religious doctrine, the problem is even worse. I don’t think it would be hyperbolic to say that the only difference between NOM and a group like the Taliban is, as Nietzsche put it, “the impotence” of modern Christians. At that point, when someone is arguing that the will of the majority ought to be used to inflict religious doctrine upon and strip the rights from a minority using the force of law, there is no more discussion. One side is arguing for liberty, the other for theocracy. If I saw Prejean or others of her ilk on fire I wouldn’t cross the street to piss her out.

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