Miss USA winner suggests self-defense to combat rape culture, receives backlash

Kaitlyn Schallhorn

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  • Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, a fourth-degree black belt, said that women should learn how to defend themselves from a young age.
  • She was answering a question on why colleges sweep sexual assault statistics under the rug.
  • Sanchez's response inflamed Twitter users, who complained she was enabling rape culture.
  • Via Miss Nevada Facebook page.

    Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez took home the Miss USA 2014 crown last night, but not before igniting a firestorm among feminists on social media.

    During the question portion of Donald Trump’s annual beauty pageant, Rumer Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, said 19 percent of college women are victims of sexual violence. She asked Sanchez why she thinks this is being swept under the rug and what should be done about it.

    “I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public,” Sanchez responded.

    “But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”

    The 24-year-old’s response sparked outrage among feminists on Twitter who called her out for perpetuating rape culture and “victim blaming.”

    Twitter played a major role in this year’s Miss USA pageant besides serving as a platform for those angered at Sanchez’s self-defense promotion. Miss Iowa Carlyn Bradarich made it to the top six after being voted in by the viewing audience by getting the most votes on Twitter with the hashtag #SavetheQueen. This was the first year the pageant used the hashtag.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn


    Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, Kaitlyn was a contributor at Red Alert Politics and covered business and restaurants for the Alexandria Times.  

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