Miss USA Rima Fakih Is a Muslim. Hallelujah!

Miss USA Rima Fakih (center)

Last weekend a Lebanese-American from Michigan was crowned Miss USA. With all the uproar that followed you’d think al-Qaeda just dropped a bomb on Las Vegas.

Instead of wringing our hands, we should be popping champagne corks and queuing up to toast the soldiers who just might not have to march off to battle someday. Isn’t this what we all wanted? Hearts and minds, assimilation, Muslim moderates drowning out the extremists?

To quote Wikipedia: Rima Fakih’s “family is Muslim, but they celebrate elements of both the Muslim and Christian faiths.”

Is this perfect, or what? Her story reads like a script that’s been kicking around Hollywood a few years.

Whatever your objections to beauty pageants (and I have a few) wouldn’t you rather see young men dreaming of a date with Rima Fakih instead of those 72 virgins?

As if listening to the tirades on the “scandal” of Fakih’s Muslim ancestry weren’t enough, she also had to refute pole dancing rumors.

Just listen to the tsk-tsking by the female TV news anchor. Oh, right, like she’s never participated in a media publicity stunt before. (Fakih, I should point out, wore way more clothes on stage than the majority of women at your average California beach.)

Fakih responded to the charges: “I can’t deny the pictures. I just want to make it clear, it was not a stripper pole contest. It was actually a promotional event that my friend, who’s a DJ at that radio station, had — for women. [They] collected about 100, 115 women, and they teach them how to dance and be sexy. It actually involved doctors and lawyers, everyone in Detroit.”

Wikipedia adds this grist to the mill: “She was also an actress in an independent short film with sexual undertones.” God forbid that an attractive young woman would perform in a movie with sexual undertones! Not while there are so many movies about nuns and collies in which Fakih could make her mark.

America, I’m calling you out.

Don’t be too pretty, or we’ll say you’re a slut. Don’t be too plain, or we’ll call you gay (whether you are or not). It seems no matter what women do, we just can’t get it right.

The 1997 chick-flick masterpiece “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,” starring Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino, was first and foremost a comedy, but one of the more poignant moments featured the two women dancing barefoot and barelegged to “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.

True, their dance was less suggestive than Fakih’s may have been, but that seemed to be the point. Like young girls, they danced for joy. My first thought: What might it have been like to grow up feeling safe? To mature naturally, to celebrate sexuality as a given, as something everyone has, to be cherished instead of bartered, exploited, marketed, ridiculed or punished.

I’ll never know, since those salad days will not come again. But in a world where a 16-year old girl is buried alive for talking to boys and women are beaten for refusing to wear a burqa, I’ll take a scantily-clad Miss USA any day.

[originally published by Politics Daily in 2010]

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About Quixotic Chick

I write. I take pictures. I survived cancer.
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