Newly crowned Miss USA Kara McCullough earned widespread praise as a scientist and an advocate for STEM education, but her answers to some social issue questions during the pageant have caused a sharp divide.
Representing the District of Columbia, McCullough answered two questions during the Q&A portion of the night that caused controversial answers. Reaction was politically divided on both answers, with most conservative groups praising the contestant and liberals denouncing her responses.
The final question to McCullough asked if she considers herself a feminist. One of the interviewers spoke for her as McCullough laughed, saying, “Yes you do, absolutely you do.” But McCullough did not agree.
“So as a woman scientist in the government, I’ve liked to lately transpose the word feminism to equalism,” McCullough said.
“I try not to consider myself this die-hard, ‘I don’t really care about men,’” she added. “But one thing I want to say, women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace. Firsthand, I’ve witnessed the impact women have in leadership in the medical sciences as well as just in the office environment.”
Feminism is defined as “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” McCullough is far from the first person to voice dislike for the phrase based on it being female-centric or say she prefers the term equalism. But reaction to her stance was intense on Twitter.
And that wasn’t the only answer she gave that raised eyebrows. She was also asked if she thought health care was a privilege or a right, as political arguments over the government’s role in health care have swirled.
“I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege,” McCullough said. “As a government employee, I’m granted health care and I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs.”
There was some confusion as to whether she meant health care currently is a privilege in the United States or if it should be a privilege, but conservative groups who thought the latter praised McCullough for the response, while liberals criticized her.