The way things are today, the last thing I should do is complain about Miss America dropping the swimsuit competition because I'd be accused of being a dirty old man, or at least of "mansplaining."

Once you roll the "mansplaining" hand grenade into the room, the conversation ends, because men are incapable of any thought that is not wrapped in the chains of sexism.

Sarcasm aside, I planned to watch the show Sunday night, but expected lower-than-usual ratings because the swimsuit competition has been deep-sixed. That was always the most popular element of the show and that proves we are bad people.

>> READ MORE: There she is … without a swimsuit

On the Miss America website, the show is no longer a "pageant." It calls itself Miss America 2.0, a desperate grasp at relevancy.

When the Miss America mess boiled over, I sat on the sidelines even though I am a Miss America fan. I don't like many reality shows, but I liked this one because who doesn't like to look at beauty? It could be the Grand Canyon, it could be a sunset, or it could be this.

What pushes me off the sidelines are op-eds by magazine writer Lisa DePaulo and former Miss America contestant Lea Schiazza, who are in favor not just of (what was once called) the pageant, but specifically of the swimsuit competition.

I'm sure they both think of themselves as feminists — meaning that women should have equality of opportunity in everything — and both think dropping the swimsuit contest is a mistake.

Some feminists hate the swimsuit competition because it concentrates on the physical, and thus must be sexist. Other feminists hate the Miss America concept in its totality. Yet others hate it because it is a relic of America's past.

It is, but what's wrong with that? You could say that of the World Series. Its ratings have been about halved since the '80s.

The show's most provocative element — socially and sexually — is the parade of women in swimsuits and high heels. Critics say it is demeaning — almost like a slave market, but Schiazza says it is empowering.

I have a couple of friends who were pageant contestants — one was a Miss Pennsylvania I dated for a while — and each found the experience important to her development. They had to learn makeup, smart fashion, the ability to think on their feet, time organization, and presentation. Contestants are focused, ambitious, and competitive. You know, like men.

There is no male equivalent of Miss America. There is a Mr. America contest, but it is just for bodybuilders.

It embraces what it is — a muscle contest. Miss America ought to embrace what it is — a beauty contest with a few scholarship sweeteners.

Magazine writer Lisa DePaulo has written often about Miss America
Courtesy Lisa DePaulo
Magazine writer Lisa DePaulo has written often about Miss America

Miss America ought to go with what it is, DePaulo told me in a phone interview. She has written many Miss America articles, but, "I never said, 'Ewww, they shouldn't have swimsuits.'"

She enjoyed reporting on how the contestants — we are now supposed to call them candidates — kept their swimsuits snug. "It was great copy," she laughs, "gluing your asses into the suit."

She thinks new honcho Gretchen Carlson has gone off the rails by dropping swimsuits and making evening gowns optional.

Swimsuits always had the highest ratings, she says, "and when it was the talent portion, [people] were in the kitchen."

Probably so, but this dirty old man watched anyway. One relic enjoying another.