Melissa King Sex Tape: Miss Teen Delaware Gives Up Crown After Porn Revelation

On Tuesday Melissa King relinquished her title as Miss Delaware Teen USA 2013 because of pressure from public moral condemnation of her scandalous actions. In what has become a classic case of good girl gone bad, King voluntarily gave up her sash and crown when a pornographic video of her and an unknown man leaked to an amateur porn website called “Girls Do Porn.” Although King insists that she “is absolutely not” the girl in the video, the subject states at the beginning that she has done beauty pageants including Miss Teen, and that she has a March birthday, which King does. The Miss Teen USA pageant officials asked King to renounce her title, joining a long list of beauty pageant franchises that have been known for dethroning beauty queens who didn’t fit the young, virginal, wholesome mold.

Yet, is there not inherent hypocrisy in pageants that reward contestants on the basis of their physical attractiveness, and then denounce them for capitalizing on their sexual appeal through nude photographs or porn? What is the difference between making money by walking a runway in a skimpy bathing suit on national television, and posing nude for Penthouse? There is a thin line between what constitutes acceptable sexual objectification and unacceptable exploitation of that sexual appeal. Supporters of beauty pageants often cite two major arguments when defending the obligatory morality of contestants. One rationale is that the women who win these contests are supposed to be role models for young girls. The other is that upon winning contestants are often awarded scholarships through their corporate sponsors, and so they represent the reputation of both the sponsors and the state they are from. Let’s examine these claims.

Miss Teen USA judges its contestants on their performance in three competitions: swimsuit, evening gown, and interview. The first two competitions are simply about who looks and presents themselves best, while the third is merely a brief assessment of character. Sample interview questions include what makes you blush? and what social causes mean the most to you? According to pageant eligibility rules to enter you must be between the ages of 14 and 19 and “must not have ever been married, not had a marriage annulled nor given birth to, or parented, a child. The titleholders are also required to remain single throughout their reign.” Given all this, it is safe to say that when contestants enter they willingly submit to being judged not on the basis of their talents or intellect, but on their physical attractiveness and popularity.

It should be noted that even those pageants that require a “talent” competition the talents are always something stereotypically feminine like singing, playing an instrument, tap dancing, or cheerleading. Are sex appeal and femininity the qualities that we want to highlight as most important to young women? If these girls were truly supposed to act as role models for a younger generation why do we judge them based on their ability to be the objects of our sexual desire? It was for this precise reason that feminists boycotted the Miss America pageant in 1968.

We ask an extraordinary feat of these women. Contests like Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe award value to the most sexually alluring candidates; yet they don’t allow these women to take ownership of their most prized quality. The system these women are judged by is paradoxical. How can we judge Melissa King for monetarily capitalizing on the quality that has gained her the most fame and appreciation: her seductiveness? It seems as though both King and her corporate sponsors like Donald Trump — one of the co-owners of the pageant — are engaged in a mutual sex-for-money business.

Let's reiterate the facts. Girls enter in order to be awarded money and prizes based on the sexiness of their bodies. How is this any different than porn? One acts with the façade of being a morally virtuous institution, whereas the other lays it all out in the open. Within both these industries King’s body is her own sexual property, and like all personal property she is entitled to do whatever she chooses with it. How can one argue that it is justified to sell one's body in a pageant, yet not any other venue? What should really be condemned in this case is not King, but rather the disingenuous moral code by which these pageants operate. On Howard Stern’s radio show show Donald Trump stated in regards to King’s video that if she had not voluntarily resigned “we probably would have had to” fire her, but also added that Stern should “call me and let me know how good it is.”

It seems obvious that these corporate tycoons are in on the game. 

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Jordan Vesey

Up and coming journalist covering immigration, LGBT rights, and free speech issues. Social Media and Online Outreach intern for Democracy Now!

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