No More Miss America! (1968)
(Editors Note: In 1968 a group of feminists went to Atlantic City to
protest the Miss America pageant. They originally intended to burn symbols
of oppression in a "Freedom Trashcan" but were unable to secure
a fire permit. The objects were simply deposited in the trashcan instead.
Several members of the group managed to display a large protest banner
inside the pageant.)
7th in Atlantic City, the Annual Miss America Pageant will again crown
"your ideal." But this year, reality will liberate the contest
auction-block in the guise of "genyooine" de-plasticized,
breathing women. Women's Liberation Groups, black women, high-school
and college women, womens peace groups, women's welfare and social-work
groups, women's job-equality groups, pro-birth control and pro-abortion
groups- women of every political persuasion- all are invited to join
us in a day-long boardwalk-theater event, starting at 1:00 p.m. on the
Boardwalk in front of Atlantic City's Convention Hall. We will protest
the image of Miss America, an image that oppresses women in every area
in which it purports to represent us.
be: Picket Lines; Guerrilla Theater; Leafleting; Lobbying Visits
to the contestants urging our sisters to reject the Pageant Farce and
join us; a huge Freedom Trash Can (into which we will throw bras,
girdles, curlers, false eyelashes, wigs, and representative issues
Ladies' Home ]ournal, Family Circle, etc.- bring any such woman-garbage
you have around the house); we will also announce a Boycott of
all those commercial products related to the Pageant, and the day
will end with a Women's Liberation rally at midnight when Miss America
is crowned on live television. Lots of other surprises are being
planned (come and add your own!) but we do not plan heavy disruptive
tactics and so do not expect a bad police scene. It should be a
groovy day on the Boardwalk in the sun with our sisters. In case
of arrests, however, we plan to reject all male authority and demand
to be busted by policewomen only. (In Atlantic City, women cops
are not permitted to make arrests- dig that!)
on this issue had best stay away, nor are male liberals welcome in
the demonstrations. But sympathetic men can donate money as well
as cars and drivers.
will be refused interviews. We reject patronizing reportage. Only
newswomen will be recognized.
The Ten Points
- The Degrading Mindless-Boob-Girlie Symbol. The Pageant contestants
epitomize the roles we are all forced to play as women. The parade
down the runway blares the metaphor of the 4-H Club county fair, where
the nervous animals are judged for teeth, fleece, etc., and where
the best "Specimen" gets the blue ribbon. So are women in
our society forced daily to compete for male approval, enslaved by
ludicrous "beauty" standards we ourselves are conditioned
to take seriously.
- Racism with Roses. Since its inception in 1921, the Pageant
has not had one Black finalist, and this has not been for a lack of
test-case contestants. There has never been a Puerto Rican, Alaskan,
Hawaiian, or Mexican-American winner. Nor has there ever been a true
Miss America- an American Indian.
- Miss America as Military Death Mascot. The highlight of
her reign each year is a cheerleader-tour of American troops abroad-
last year she went to Vietnam to pep-talk our husbands, fathers, sons
and boyfriends into dying and killing with a better spirit. She personifies
the "unstained patriotic American womanhood our boys are fighting
for." The Living Bra and the Dead Soldier. We refuse to be used
as Mascots for Murder.
- The Consumer Con-Game. Miss America is a walking commercial
for the Pageant's sponsors. Wind her up and she plugs your product
on promotion tours and TV-all in an "honest, objective"
endorsement. What a shill.
- Competition Rigged and Unrigged. We deplore the encouragement
of an American myth that oppresses men as well as women: the win-or-youre-worthless
competitive disease. The "beauty contest" creates only one
winner to be "used" and forty-nine losers
who are "useless."
- The Woman as Pop Culture Obsolescent Theme. Spindle, mutilate,
and then discard tomorrow. What is so ignored as last year's Miss
America? This only reflects the gospel of our Society, according to
Saint Male: women must be young, juicy, malleable-hence age discrimination
and the cult of youth. And we women are brainwashed into believing
- The Unbeatable Madonna-Whore Combination. Miss America and
Playboy's centerfold are sisters over the skin. To win approval, we
must be both sexy and wholesome, delicate but able to cope, demure
yet titillatingly bitchy. Deviation of any sort brings, we are told,
disaster: "You won't get a man!!"
- The Irrelevant Crown on the Throne of Mediocrity. Miss America
represents what women are supposed to be: inoffensive, bland, apolitical.
If you are tall, short, over or under what weight The Man prescribes
you should be, forget it. Personality, articulateness, intelligence,
and commitment- unwise. Conformity is the key to the crown- and, by
extension, to success in our Society.
- Miss America as Dream Equivalent To-? In this reputedly
democratic society, where every little boy supposedly can grow up
to be President, what can every little girl hope to grow to be? Miss
America. That's where it's at. Real power to control our own lives
is restricted to men, while women get patronizing pseudo-power, an
ermine clock and a bunch of flowers; men are judged by their
actions, women by appearance.
- Miss America as Big Sister Watching You. The pageant exercises
Thought Control, attempts to sear the Image onto our minds, to further
make women oppressed and men oppressors; to enslave us all the more
in high-heeled, low-status roles; to inculcate false values in young
girls; women as beasts of buying; to seduce us to our selves before
our own oppression.
NO MORE MISS AMERICA