Kára McCullough, a young, African-American nuclear scientist, was crowned Miss USA Sunday. But the 25-year-old radiochemist from Washington DC met a social media scolding after uttering incorrect thoughts during the interview portion of the competition.
McCullough was asked about health care and feminism. She gave coherent, thoughtful answers—as much as the very short format allows—but she deviated from liberal talking points, and the Internet is upset about it.
Huge fan of #MissUSA being a black woman and a scientist and advocate for science education, but dang she could use a class on social issues
— Keely Cunningham (@KEE_LYme_pie) May 15, 2017
On the subject of health care, judges asked, “Do you think affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege and why?” McCullough answered that health care is a privilege, one she is granted through government employment with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She seemed to advocate for more jobs as a path to plentiful health care.
I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege. As a government employee, I am granted healthcare and I see first-hand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs. So, therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunity to have health care as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide.
There ensued much shaking of heads (#smdh, even) and #byefelicias because the Left contends health care is a right, and to do otherwise is of course to wish death upon multitudes.
— Hinterland Gazette (@hinterlandg) May 15, 2017
— Brittany Sambogna (@winteriscominDT) May 15, 2017
On the question of feminism, McCullough made the mistake of many before her—Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Zooey Deschanel, and even Beyoncé. She doesn’t much like the term and the attributes associated with it, so she prefers to advocate for equality of women under a different term.
“What do you consider feminism to be, and do you consider yourself a feminist,” a judge asked.
So, as a woman scientist in the government, I’ve liked to lately transpose the word ‘feminism’ to ‘equalism.’ I don’t really want to consider myself… I try not to consider myself like this like die-hard, you know, like, ‘Oh I don’t really care about men…’ But one thing I’m going to say is, though, women we are just as equal to men when it comes opportunity in the workplace. And I say first-hand, I have witnessed the impact that women have in leadership in the medical sciences as well as just in the office environment. So, as Miss USA I would hope to promote that type of leadership responsibility globally to so many women worldwide.
This is a minority woman in STEM, part of whose platform as Miss USA will literally be advocating for women in science. She is a woman who is fighting the fight social justice warriors claim to want to fight—and she does it with her natural hair!— but because she isn’t using the word “feminism” with the full-throated verve online feminists require, break out the shade pieces.
McCullough later fleshed out her views on women in STEM in an interview published on the Miss USA site:
‘I want to see more women possessing leadership positions in private and government energy and health sciences agencies; not just conducting laboratory research,’ she said. ‘As a women scientist in the government, I have witnessed and been in many meetings where the ratio of men to women is 10:2. I believe more women should be given the opportunity to be representatives in the energy and medical fields.’
This reads like someone interested in, well, advancing women in scientific fields and leadership positions.
McCullough’s feelings about the term “feminism” are fairly common. A 2016 YouGov poll found only about a third of women identify as “feminists,” with 45 percent rejecting the term, and 47 percent saying it’s because they “believe feminists are too extreme.” A Gallup poll on the term over the years has had similarly dismal findings for the word, though a 2016 Washington Post poll shows much better results for the term, with 43 percent identifying as “feminist” and 17 percent as “strong feminist.” It’s unclear whether that finding constitutes a comeback or an outlier.
To those going after McCullough, I suggest patience. Perhaps her tenure will be more powerful than mere fealty to buzzwords.