Momentum is growing to increase the number of women statues that are present in the United States. Only 8% ( a generous estimation by Lilylines.com- some websites report as low as 4%) of statues are devoted to and built in the figures of actual American women pioneers.
This is a shame, given that the United States claims to be the pioneer and example of women’s rights across the world. However, if measured by monuments and memorials, the United States and other western cultures are not the stalwarts of female empowerment as they claim- many eastern religions have worshipped the divine feminine for centuries.
It does take a true appreciation of how much the definition of femininity and women’s roles in the west, and it is high time to start honoring women with national monuments.
Clara Barton would be our first suggestion, she is memorialized by a slate stone- hardly a reflection of who she was.
A second suggestion is a monument to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, second female justice to be appointed to the Supreme Court and champion of modern women’s equality.
A third recommendation would be for a statue that represents American values in sports – such as Brandi Chastain or Simone Biles.
And the list goes on of incredible candidates worthy of National recognition- names like Jackie Cochran, Grace Hopper, Gertrude Ederle, Sally Kristen Ride come to mind immediately – all would make amazing tributes to modern American courage and tenacity.
All would be better candidates than R-Evolution, the last proposal made in 2017, for a female statue in Washington, DC. R-Evolution is a 45 ft tall rendition of a nude woman standing in mountain pose- hardly the representation of the heroines we remember most.
Luckily, the proposal to have R-Evolution places in the National Mall was denied by the National Park Service due to the chance it “might damage the National Mall’s grass”- a bit of a sham excuse but enough for activists to rejoice that the first presentation of a woman on the National Mall would not be naked– no matter what her purpose (the artist, Marco Cochrane, intended it to be a symbol that empowered women against domestic violence).
With the 4th of July quickly approaching, this article came to mind. Mary Katherine Goddard took advantage of an entrepreneurial moment by publishing the Declaration of Independence when others could not. May she not be forgotten in history… Mary Katharine Goddard and the Declaration of Independence
With all the attention on female equality lately, we at Milieux realize we all don’t think about the men that support us in these societal changes. The recent news about supporting fathers by adding changing tables to public bathrooms is just in time for Father’s Day.
The good news is that states like New York, Ohio and Florida are already working to fix the inequality that is changing tables in bathrooms. Have you ever thought about the men who need to care for their children when traveling alone? Women have it easier, comparatively. Men have babies, too. They shop with their babies, drive to gas stations with their babies and fly with their babies.
And, thanks to Donte Palmer, an advocate to change how we think about fathers, more attention is being paid to fathers’ needs on the road.
Donte created #squatforchange movement- which showed the obstacles men faced to change their children in public restrooms, and @pampers got involved. Now, over 5000 changing tables will be supplied to mensrooms nation wide.
Thank you to all the wonderful dads out there that deal with obstacles like this daily in silence. We love you for what you do and are grateful for this opportunity to recognize you.
On this, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, Milieux Project would like to remember the women that composed the original FlyGirls: The Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilots who were critical to the Allied Air Operation over the largest amphibious assault in history.
Established in 1942 and disbanded 2 and a half years later – these brave and tenacious women ensured equipment built in the United States made it to the battlefield. This was no small feat- many women had to stand on their toes to make height restrictions and wore equipment too large for them just so they could contribute.
Wearing Walt Disney’s rendition of a female Gremlin, Fifinella, and led by innovator Jackie Cochran, the WASPs answered their nation’s call and volunteered to do what was needed for victory. Without the WASPS, the Riveters, the WAVES and all of the others who filled the seats that the defense department needed, the outcome of WWII might have been much different. A personal letter from the German Commander in Normandy to Hitler sums it up as follows “…there is no way in which we could battle with the all-powerful enemy air forces … without being forced to surrender territory.”
Thank you to the women and men of the greatest generation – who faced evil and defeated it with courage.
It’s exciting to read about mother pilots who are sharing their passion for flying with their children and how their stories are increasing. From Instagram to the local news- stories keep popping up about women flying with their children.
Take for example the mother, Laura Stants, who flew her daughter to OshKosh in 2016. As an airline pilot, she knew she wanted to share the love of flight with her daughter. At one point, she demonstrated acrobatics – including inverted flight- to her daughter in their T-6.
When her daughter, Kaylee, wrote about her experience in a trip report, it scared her teachers. But Laura was undeterred – she knew the value of showing her daughter flying, and she wanted her daughter to know exhilaration.
And then there is the story of the Delta captain, Wendy Rexton, who flew with her first officer daughter cross country and recorded it for the training school- and it scored the most hits for the school that it had received ever- an amazing recruiting tool.
Or finally the story that we heard Kathleen Cosand tell about her landing competition that she flew, and won, against her son on their American Airlines flight.
Women across the United States are sharing aviation careers with their children in increasing numbers. Because women only make up 7% of the aviation industry, it is even more remarkable- and vital- that the mother-child flying trend continues. There is no feeling like piloting a machine into the sky- one that a mother wants to show their kids. And it’s an experience that Milieux Project believes should be available to everyone.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what “Male Dominated” means when it comes to work environments. I understand it to an extent- but really reflecting on my experiences in the military reminds me of all the guys who helped me and encouraged me to get where I am at. That doesn’t feel like domination. It feels like teamwork. Why do we forget about those men when we consider our circumstances? Maybe its time we consider this term more carefully.
The guys that were in my first unit often enjoy sharing stories of “1Lt Aupke” to others who meet me now. They like to tell people about how I drove up that first day in my loud Diesel Dodge Ram 2500 that made half the smoke pit’s heads turn. And they like to describe how I walked down the middle of the hallway like I was a queen from the moment I walked in. I didn’t think anything of it but I guess it was weird? It was just the way I felt then – I was just out of pilot training and I thought I was God’s gift to the 66th Rescue Squadron – the first to graduate on time in almost 2 years. I felt pretty good about myself and was excited about the opportunity. When a former Army Warrant Officer invited me to lunch on that first day, I immediately agreed. I distinctly remember how he and the 4 other guys from the squadron asked if I was single as we cruised down Craig Avenue in his 1999 Lincoln sedan and I replied in my smart ass way “I don’t date coworkers” setting the tone immediately for the rest of my tour there – and really the rest of my career.
So, when I was sitting in my office, now a squadron commander myself, mentoring an officer trainee at officer training school recently, I was thrown off when she asked innocently – “What is it like working in a ‘Male Dominated’ world”? “Male Dominated” I hadn’t thought about this in a while. I really had to consider it.
What is “male dominated”? I rolled the question over in my head as I worked on a thoughtful response to her question. The Air Force is, after all, led by a male General and Chief Master Sergeant. And I have often hypothesized that when a woman is CSAF things might change. But in my more local experience, I don’t feel as though I’m necessarily “dominated” as the word suggests. What really defines domination anyway?
As I mull over this question- an image of a woman I saw over the weekend pops in my head. At brunch with my son, I catch a glimpse of her shirt that says “the future is female” and I can’t help but think- what does “the future is feminine” even mean? What about men? Is it possible to have a world without men? I mean, I had my son right there with me. Does the future suddenly exclude him? My son won’t be a woman and I sure as heck don’t think he has to be a girl to be powerful or influential. Why would I support such a sentiment as a mother? But on the other side, I do want to support diversity. “The future is female” as if the present is male? But both seem at odds with a goal of diversity. So I disagree. I really don’t want to be “dominated” by anyone honestly. Am I of such an agency to allow my faculty to be “dominated”? And why would I want women to dominate men? The reverse is exactly what we are fighting to change.
Oh yes, I remember I am answering a question in my office. The trainee continues to look to me for an answer. I imagine that she expects some sort of response that involves “GRIT” and “passion” and patience or something with feminist “woman power” undertones. Instead, I respond with this same kind of confused response – “what do you mean, male-dominated”? And then it is her turn to look at me confused.
I honestly don’t know what it is like to work in a “male-dominated” world- I can only remark on what things are like in an environment where men happen to be the majority – and continue to be the majority despite multiple deliberate efforts to change it. If we imagine a military of women- as Col (Ret) Karl Friedl writes about in his fantastic article, Biases of the Incumbents – What if We Were Integrating Men into a Women’s Army– that challenges the perceptions of diversifying the military. What if we had an all women’s army that had to be opened to men, would the challenges of that be just as numerous and exclusionary for men? Men would have to wear uniforms that don’t fit them, they would have to subsist on lower calorie meals, they would have to strengthen their lower extremities and use less upper body strength, just to name a few. And probably, they would have to be put in special dorms that probably locked them in so that they did not mingle with the women while they were hormonally charged from hunger. Those are just a few of the things that would be prohibitive if the roles were reversed. It would be challenging – what would it be like to work in a “woman dominated” field?
And yet male nurses, flight attendants, and teachers do it all the time. Do they have support groups and “Lean in” coaching seminars to learn to act more like women? Do they lament that they are dominated? My instinctual response is probably not. So why do women?
I would guess that about 95% of people agree that we need diversity of thought to progress – and most men do not wake up in the morning with the intention of excluding women. At least, they haven’t in my experience. And how much are women excluding themselves just by using language like “male dominated”? Most men want women to have the same opportunities they had- they just don’t know necessarily where things are limited – or how their behaviors are inadvertently exclusionary. There are some places where equality of access and opportunity could be improved for women and society is slowly working to change them, one “woman dominated” act at a time.
So, as I formulate my response to this young lady I decide to ask her to reconsider the circumstances. It’s not that the Air Force is “male dominated”- but that men happen to be the majority. Not so scary or intimidating anymore – requires less “GRIT” and passion more acceptance and challenge. If we change the way we frame the situation with our language, maybe it will help us find better ways to solve it.
**The views in this piece are of the author’s alone and do not reflect on the United States Air Force or US Department of Defense.
It all started with someone posting a quick reply to a post on Facebook I made in March, “Jenn, I have an opportunity for you, I’ll be in touch soon.” My friend and I connected and he shared his idea – I called Carrie and she said: “let’s do it- let’s have a booth at the Air Force’s largest Air Show in May!!” Holy smokes! I thought to myself. We are doing this!
There was a lot of planning involved- how would we present ourselves, what would we share with the kids? It was a STEM event that we were being asked to support – we had to do something interesting but within our budget. We thought of bringing some VR gear, but after some discussion, we realized that putting a kid in Virtual Reality would not give us the engagement we were seeking – plus we aren’t Virtual Reality salespeople. So Carrie came up with “Hoop Airplanes“, bottle rockets and coloring. We bought the stores out of straws, index cards, crayons, paper and 35mm film containers (remember those?) and headed to Washington DC. And thanks to the financial support of many of our friends and family, we pulled it off.
We had an absolutely amazing time at the Joint Base Andrews Airshow that took place that weekend, May 10-12 2019. We engaged with over 5000 children and adults throughout the event spreading the word about women in aviation and the possibilities available for everyone. It was fun promoting Preflight Aviation Camp, Legacy Flight Academy, and Sisters of the Skies as we built hoop airplanes that looked like they shouldn’t fly and rockets with the little ones.
The whole event was educational and fun, we were grateful to be a part of it all. The best part was meeting Mae Krier, one of the original Rosie the Riveters – an energetic 93-year-old who continues to inspire women to do the extraordinary through her iconic bicep curl. If it wasn’t for the patriotic women of the riveters (one in four married women in 1943), the United States would not have been able to maintain its manufacturing dominance during the war.
Altogether, the weekend was a humbling and exciting event. We were so grateful to our photographer, @Laylasnapz (on Instagram) for her amazing eye, K. Zimmerman for his encouragement and connections, and Ryan V. for all of the opportunities he provided us. The Milieux Project is starting to catch on and we can’t wait to see what’s next!
If you like what you see here, please contact us for your next event. We love engaging and sharing our stories. Also, please show your support where ever you go with a Milieux Patch or sticker which can be purchased on our home page. Thanks so much for reading and being a part of the change! #changethemilieux #aviatrix #rosietheriveter #womeninhistory
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