A beauty pageant winner gave up her title this month after a skit at the Miss Massachusetts competition mocked the #MeToo movement.
The contestant, Maude Gorman, who was named as this year’s Miss Plymouth County, said she was offended when a skit performed at the recent statewide pageant poked fun at the Miss America Organization for getting rid of its swimsuit competition. Ms. Gorman, 24, was raped as a teenager and has been an outspoken advocate for victims of sexual assault.
She said the skit that was performed at the competition on June 30 was insensitive to women who have come forward over the past year and told their stories about sexual harassment in the workplace. “So many people reached out for help,” Ms. Gorman said. “It was disheartening.”
Ms. Gorman announced on Instagram on July 5 that she was giving up the title, saying, “As both a survivor, and advocate for victims rights and sexual violence on a whole, I refuse to stand idly by and simply ‘let this go’.”
The skit took a swipe at the Miss America Organization, which said in June that it was scrapping the swimsuit portion of its annual pageant as it tries to adapt to an era of increased gender equality. Onstage, a woman was seen bemoaning the loss of the swimsuit competition. The woman turned to a man, who was dressed as God, and told him she was upset and was trying to understand why it happened. The man held up a sign that read #MeToo.
Ms. Gorman was backstage during the skit. “There were a lot of laughs and cheers,” she said. “But there were a lot of disgruntled people, too. It was so inappropriate for that night.”
She added: “I was just so taken aback. I was offended, not only as a survivor. It made all the work I did, well, it slammed it in my face.”
The board of the Miss Massachusetts pageant apologized on Facebook, saying the skit was not in the script, nor was it authorized by pageant officials. “Moving forward, we will review all content with future emcees and other participants prior to our show to be sure offensive or potentially offensive content is not allowed,” the directors wrote.
Pageant officials sent Ms. Gorman an email after her announcement that she was giving up her title, she said. “I think they should have apologized before someone got upset,” she said.
Ms. Gorman said she was raped by three men on a playground when she was 13. She did not tell her mother until she was 16, overcome with shame and fear. “It’s very common to keep secrets,” she said.
The attack left her with post-traumatic stress disorder, she said, and she was afraid to sleep at night. “My life spiraled out of control,” she said. “I didn’t have direction.”
Ms. Gorman attended Stonehill College in Massachusetts and graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and media studies. She now works as a preschool teacher, and she is also an ultramarathon runner and a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Early on, Ms. Gorman said, she decided to become an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. In 2015, she spoke about her experience at the Miss World America pageant in Washington, where she was representing Massachusetts.
She said she would continue to speak out on behalf of women who have been sexually abused and harassed. “I want to inspire others to speak up too,” she said.