I don’t pay attention to beauty pageants. I suspect that the last time I watched even five seconds of a Miss America contest was when I was about 16, and gazing on beautiful women marching around a glitzy stage in high heels and bikinis seemed like a pretty good idea.
So as is my annual tradition, this year I effortlessly attained a state of mind which precluded all things Miss America. I would say I embraced a complete and total lack of knowledge about this year’s contest, who was in it, or the name of the winner, but that would imply an effort on my part. I honestly didn’t even know it was happening at all.
This morning, however, I learned the one aspect of this year’s contest worth knowing: Kira Kazantsev, this year’s winner, had a Planned Parenthood internship listed on her resume.
It should come as no surprise that a woman who thinks flaunting her body in front of a nationally-televised audience is a good means by which to gain attention and fame might not have a problem with abortion. There is a necessary divorce between modesty and authentic femininity which facilitates such displays. A divorce which requires the suppression of any innate concept of sexual purity. It’s a double-edged sword that both genders understand on an almost instinctual level. A devil’s deal. Any woman who has used her body to get something she wants from a man knows this. Any man who has ever lusted after such a woman knows it too.
Each of the participants — the male and the female involved in any given transaction of illicit sexual stimulation — is giving up something that should be treasured eternally for some small pleasure desired intensely right now.
Attention. Fame. Money. Power. Career advancement. Lust. Gratification. Excitement. Whichever combination of these things for which we are willing to put all our chips on the table, gambling with our eternal salvation, somehow seems far more important in the moment than the much bigger thing we might lose, far off, down the road.
It’s a form of spiritual Russian Roulette.
But clicking a round into a cylinder, spinning, and pulling the trigger, has consequences. With a real gun, not every time is fatal, or it wouldn’t be fun. With our souls, it’s a different story. Every trigger pull is a loss of sanctifying grace. A small death of the soul. This can be mended through sacramental confession, but the wound is no less real. In the worst case scenario, we never get around to repentance, and face an eternal death from which there’s no coming back.
As if the spiritual dimension of playing fast and loose with sexual licentiousness weren’t enough, there are other bullets in our metaphorical gun. Disease. Broken marriages. Unwanted pregnancy.
We’ve more or less figured out how to deal with these, too. There’s a pill or preventative device for almost (but not quite) every form of disease we could get from violating the sixth commandment. Risk mitigated. We’ve absolutely trashed the permanence of marriage, so if it gets broken because we’re messing around, it probably wasn’t meant to last in the first place. (“If he/she had just kept me happy, I wouldn’t have been cheating!”) And as for unwanted pregnancy, well, we’ve had a clinical solution for that since 1973.
A culture that objectifies women as effectively as we do — where the porn industry rakes in some $14 Billion per year and untold thousands of images and videos are available online for free — makes the Miss America Pageant seem downright quaint and wholesome. In reality, however, watching a woman saunter around in high heels and a couple-dozen square inches of cloth isn’t really so far removed from watching a woman saunter around in just the high heels. We may tell ourselves it is, even though we know deep down that the one leads to the other. There wouldn’t be a commandment against lust if it weren’t so appealing.
But if objectification of women is about sex, sex is about babies. Babies who come whether we want them or not. Planned or unplanned. The human reproductive system is remarkably efficient at circumventing our efforts to thwart it. And therein lies the connection: don’t want that baby all the sexual carelessness led to? A doctor will kill it for you for a nominal fee. Simple as that. It’s not just your choice, it’s your right. The Supreme Court said so.
There is literally nothing shocking in the revelation that Miss America worked for Planned Parenthood. If anything, such a connection is obvious. I suspect most of the participants in the pageant would describe themselves as “pro-choice.” And in a way, every single one of those contestants is a volunteer in service of the cause. They are poster girls for the sexual revolution. They embrace a system that tells us we should value women primarily for their bodies, and the feelings those bodies arouse in us.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time a contestant, when asked of her aspirations, talked about her desire to be a wife and mother? Which contestant spoke with determination of her plans to build a business designing modest fashions for young women who want to purchase clothing that doesn’t give away all their secrets for free? When was the last time a dazzling beauty pining for the tiara campaigned to help women and men tangled up in pornography, found crisis pregnancy centers, or work for a culture where all children were wanted, planned or not?
I don’t have to watch the competition to know that this never happens. It can’t. These things are mutually exclusive. Self-defeating. You can’t sell sex while hawking the wholesomeness of family. You have to pick one.
In an article about the Kazantsev controversy, writer Lauren Barbato poses this question:
So, should Miss America be de-crowned for volunteering her time to educate young men and women about healthy and safe sex lives? (Answer: no.) But it’s worth highlighting how something as innocent as interning for three months with Planned Parenthood can instantly eject a woman from the “good American woman” pedestal. What makes a “good American woman” in this case? Not expressing any political views, apparently.
Something “as innocent” as interning for Planned Parenthood? The largest, most well-funded institution dedicated to the slaughter of innocent human beings since the Nazi Party?
Sadly, even many of us who abhor abortion remain part of the problem. Any confessor will tell you that pornography usage is one of the most-confessed sins. How many of us readily consume movies and television shows which promote a culture of sexual objectification? The fight to keep our children modest and chaste in a world that bombards them with temptations to be anything but at times seem an impossible battle. There’s a reason why nobody threw a stone at the woman charged with adultery in the presence of Jesus. Who among us has a clean enough heart to judge?
Barbato is right. Kazantsev shouldn’t lose her crown. It should be kept right where it sits on her perfect blonde hair, just above her pretty blue eyes and wide, dazzling smile, as she represents a country that has has killed over 50 million of its own children in just four decades. Physically fit and perfectly composed, she’s issues-oriented and attractive in just the ways we’re looking for. She poses for the camera with no visible blood on her hands, a veneer of beauty and goodness hiding the moral corruption within.
If that’s not a slice of America, what is?
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.