Recently an airline pilot was heroic in bringing in an airline’s broken plane that had struck one passenger with mortal injuries and threatened the entire crew and passengers with the same fate. This pilot’s ability to perform under extreme pressure, ultimately saving lives, was rightfully praised. Bravo to the ex-navy fighter pilot with “nerves of steel”.
Tammie Jo Schults was this cool, calm, collected pilot. I will admit media coverage wasn’t atrocious. Coverage of the near tragedy itself did not particularly single out Tammie’s gender. Journalists are making efforts to catch up with the curve
But when women do something outstanding there is still the strong urge to emphasize the fact. I am an aging middle-class white cisgender male. My limited understanding of the gender issues of today tells me that the eventual goal of those fighting for women’s equity, in all areas of society, is for coverage of events of this nature to be virtually the same. The only changes between the woman hero and the man in the article or broadcast would be the names.
It seems modern journalists can’t seem to avoid overcompensation. In the midst of good treatment of the fact that the protagonist of the story identifies as female, they are compelled to find something somewhere to go on and on about.
I have read numerous accounts of this striking news story and a large number of them went off on the fact that the modest pilot didn’t want her name out in public and they had to go to passengers and relatives to find out who she was.
They also made a big deal of how she was among the first female fighter pilots in the Navy and how she had tried to get into an Air Force program but was rejected because she was a woman. They went on and on. This portion of the articles was usually made the main focus and took up more column inches than the description of the incident itself.
I’m not saying that a male pilot’s background would not be appropriate for inclusion in this sort of article. Far from it. The back story is an important part of any human interest story.
I am simply contending that if this had been a male pilot the segment on his background would have been one or two paragraphs, a simple exposition of facts. It would not have been a major part of the article.
As we move into a new phase of understanding a more subtle and invisible sexism people will have to continue digging deeper inside themselves. Even women won’t escape the uncomfortable awareness of truths that are buried in the subconscious. We will all have to listen carefully to the women who have liberated these truths and dedicate themselves to educating an evolving world.
This is hard work. You meet a part of yourself you don’t want to know. And it’s not the only work you are called to do. We have to manage somehow to live together with many who think these efforts are a bunch of BS. We have to search inside and find our racism, our religious prejudices, our unique and shameful treatment of natives, our support of the inequities of economic hierarchies, our faith in a flawed original constitution. and more.
I am always careful to include disclaimers in my works. My posts are my observations and visions and are not intended to be a claim of authority. They are my relative truths and never designed to be the absolute truth.
I am certain I have a mountain of things to learn about this topic. Please get in touch with me if I have totally screwed up somewhere. My opinion is mine alone. But the truth that serves everyone must be shared.
Knowledge is power.