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On Sunday evening, Rima Fakih was crowned Miss USA 2010. By morning, her reign had already been tarnished by the requisite beauty queen sex scandal. Photos had surfaced of the now-24-year-old Fakih dancing on a stripper pole in a local radio event titled “Stripper 101.” But as Broadsheet‘s Tracy Clark-Flory notes, Fakih’s “official Miss USA glamor shots” (above) are actually significantly more risque than the “stripper” shots, which revealed Fikah—-clothed—-in short-shorts and a tank top.

Well, well, well. What on earth could possibly be happening here?

First, Clark-Flory lays out the sexual landscape:

What’s absurd—-no, make that what’s most absurd—-about this faux scandal is that the photos of Fakih pole-dancing are far tamer than the official Miss USA glamor shots. As Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote last week, it seemed pageant officials were “heading scandal off at the pass” by releasing a “spank-worthy collection of its contestants in lingerie.” Fakih is wearing less clothing in her glamor shot than in her pole-dancing pics—-we’re talking fishnets, a garter and a bra compared to a tank top and booty shorts. In all seriousness, you’re likely to see racier getups on suburban soccer moms at their local strip aerobics class.

“The beauty queen’s fall from grace has been institutionalized and mainstreamed,” Clark-Flory continues. “The post-win scandal is now every bit an expected and essential part of the pageant as the swimsuit portion of the show. It’s all so predictable and boring. Could it be that we’re nearing maximum sex scandal capacity?”

Not a chance. Clark-Flory is right that it’s boring, predictable, and hypocritical for the Miss USA pageant to expect completely virginal contestants when the pageant itself encourages its Misses to embody the other half of that particular dichotomy.

But this pattern—-parading its contestants in string bikinis and high-heels, and then clutching its pearls over any unsanctioned skin-showing—-is hardly an idiosyncrasy of the pageant circuit. This comes from a long and storied tradition of (a) expecting women to be extremely sexy, and then (b) furiously policing their sexuality by confining it to particular contexts, which are controlled by (c) assigned (usually) male guardians, like fathers, husbands, and pageant organizers.

That’s why Americans have got our sexy teen pop stars who are saving themselves for marriage, our Christian true-believers who are saving their breast implants for their husbands,  and our beauty queens who are explicitly judged on how sexy they are—-as long as they’re only sexy for Donald Trump. Last year, Miss California USA funded Carrie Prejean‘s breast implants, only to ditch her when she almost showed them off. It doesn’t matter that these beauty queens are often wearing less clothes in the pageant than they are in their “sexy photo scandals”—-they’re still not saving themselves sufficiently, and for that they deserve to be shamed.

Trump, like many arbiters of female sexuality before him,wants a lady in the street but a freak in the, uh, swimsuit competition. He’ll never find one—-it’s difficult to find a young woman who can perform sexuality at Miss-USA-standards without any practice.  So what’s the only way to keep the dichotomy alive? Dole out the shaming when any less-than-perfectly-chaste photos arise. In an age when beauty pageant interest is flagging, the American public is still invested in that virgin-whore narrative—-and slut-shaming for fun and profit has proved a reliable investment for Trump.

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