If you watched the FX series Mrs. America this past Spring, you were, depending on your age, either reminded of or clued into the retrograde attitude of one Phyllis Schlafly, the anti-ERA political activist who wielded more power and influence than many of her contemporary legislative office-holders. So, too, the Miss America Pageant, turning 100 next year, has long set forth particular ideas of what a woman should be. While the Pageant has made some progress toward evolving, it, like Mrs. Schlafly, generally sought to preserve a traditional place for women. Mrs. America referred to a person, but Miss America was and still is an institution, one that has seen numerous controversies as well as some bright spots. As its future teeters on the edge, like many stalwart establishments in this moment, it’s the perfect time to look back at its century-long existence and examine what it hath wrought: the good, the bad, and the beautiful. Margot Mifflin, Professor of English at Lehman College and the Newmark Journalism School has done so. She is the author of Looking for Miss America: A Pageant’s 100-Year Quest to Define Womanhood which will be released by Counterpoint Press on August 4. In this episode, she talks with our great friend and guest interviewer, Beth Harpaz, editor of CUNY SUM.
Read Beth’s full summary of the book here.
Listen to Episode 45 now!