The Plight of Miss Pennsylvania: A Rant


valerie_gatto_miss_usa_pa1I never watch television. I mean, never.  Mostly because I can generally think of 58743894739 other things I’d rather be doing than encouraging the systematic suicide of my brain cells by subjecting them to the garbage of modern tv media. However, Sunday night I was exhausted after working all weekend to meet a deadline. Normally, I’ll read or write before bed, but I just wanted to veg. So I threw myself down on the bed and fired up the boob tube.

With immediate regret.

The Miss USA pageant was on. Now, to be clear, I’m not opposed to beauty contests. Everyone has their thing — some people love them and that’s rad. However, the vacuous statements that never fail to come out of contestants’ mouths makes it clear who the real victor is in the battle of brains versus beauty. SO, when I turned on the tv Sunday night just as Miss Pennsylvania was giving her little spiel, I found myself wrestling with the strong urge to fling myself from a tall building.

Apparently, Valerie Gatto (Miss Pennsylvania) is a product of rape. Her mother was violently raped when she was 19 and Gatto is the result of that. That’s an awful thing. Rape is terrible, and it happens to both women and men. And it had to take an incredible amount of bravery for Valerie’s mother not to have an abortion. But… that was Valerie’s mother’s plight. How could something that happened before she was even conceived be the obstacle that Gatto described it as? In an interview, she explains:

I could just sit here and say, ‘Why did this happen,’ and ‘Does my father know I exist? But God put me here to do great things, and I’m not going to let things from the past stop me.

Things from the past? Like, wayyyy past. Like so far past they happened before your mother was even pregnant with you. I’m having a hard time with this one. Sure, she doesn’t know who her father is, but look at how many kids are brought up by single parents or don’t have a relationship with one or both of their parents. She goes on to say:

I believe God put me here for a reason: to inspire people, to encourage them, to give them hope that everything is possible and you can’t let your circumstances define your life.

I’m glad Gatto wants to be an inspiration. No doubt, the world needs more positive, inspiring people. But to make out her mother’s rape like it’s her circumstance… that just doesn’t sit well with me. Talk to someone born without legs; who lost their parents in a tragic accident; who is battling cancer; who lost their job and is living on the streets; who doesn’t know how they’re going to put food on the table for their kids that night; who has suddenly lost a child or spouse; or who had an IED explode on them while serving in Afghanistan. Those, my dear, those are circumstances. That’s a plight. That’s real shit that people have to overcome. That’s the nitty gritty that life throws at you when it’s trying to make you cry “UNCLE!”

It would be one thing for her to acknowledge she’s a product of rape. She could certainly use that in a positive  way — but to frame it as a barrier she’s had to overcome is just ridiculous, when you consider the serious, real shit that millions of other people are greeted with each day. Come on, Miss Pennsylvania.

And here’s the cherry on top. Apparently she’s an advocate for sexual assault and rape:

If you know me, you know that I have always been vocal about my story and an advocate for sexual assault and rape. Now, to see everything unfold to the world, it is fulfilling and life changing.

I’m going to assume she means she’s an advocate for victims or awareness, and that she’s not encouraging acts of sexual assault.

[/end rant]