In the summer of 1986, my parents and I drove to the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi. Mom was going to visit the commissary. Dad was renewing his retirement ID. I had recently graduated high school and my goal was to inquire about becoming a Naval aviator; specifically a fighter pilot. I was feeling very empowered and smug because I had set a goal for myself and I was finally getting to see my dreams to fruition. Needless to say, I was crushed when I learned that women were not allowed to serve in a combat capacity in the United States Navy. The recruiter’s first response (with a totally straight face) to my inquiry was, “You’re a pretty girl. Why would you want to be a fighter pilot?” He then listed all the roles I was allowed to play, but I tuned him out and finally left.
I ranted the entire drive home. (Well, almost the entire drive home. My Dad finally turned around and pointed out that crybabies don’t do well in the US Navy.) My teenage heart finally caught up with my practical mind and realized I wouldn’t make a very good fighter pilot anyway. Kinetosis affects me in cars, trains, planes, and one particularly pukey visit to the Burke Baker Planetarium in Houston. If I were to truly search my intentions, it was pretty obvious that I was seeking the life of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell of Top Gun rather than a vocation more suited to my talents and temperament. Besides, I was also in love with a very nice young man named Nick, who would eventually become my Hubster and father to my four children.
The path I’ve chosen has been a blessing, so I have no regrets. Even so, that recruiter’s incredulous expression and figurative patting of my “pretty little head” as he suggested other avenues with which to serve my country still irk the shit out of me. The Navy finally woke up and began to recruit women for combat roles in 1993. By that time, I had two sons and had embraced my role as a stay-at-home mom. I remember nodding at the television news and smiling when the announcement was made. That vocation was no longer mine, but women with the right stuff were getting theirs. It felt GOOD. I’ve made it a point to keep up with women fighter pilots in the news. Lt. Col. Martha McSally, Major Nichole Malachowski, Lt. Kara Hultgreen, and many others pioneered the effort to break the sexism barrier.
Then, yesterday, this happened:
What the actual hell, Fox News? And WHY DO WOMEN STILL WORK THERE? (Kimberly Guilfoyle, I’m giving you side eye right now, girl. UGLY SIDE EYE.) Why was everyone sitting around that table acting like this is normal behavior for a national “news” organization? I mean, I know it’s Faux News, but damn. On a scale of bad-assery, Major Mariam Al Mansouri of the UAE is far higher than anyone at Fox.
I salute you, Major Al Mansouri. You did what I was unable to do. You are who I pictured myself to be at the tender age of seventeen. You kick SO. MUCH. ASS.
*Photo courtesy of The National UAE.