Bad things come in threes, as surely you’ve heard. Or is it good things?
Either way, three-plus-one happenings fueled my ire last week, illustrating that the “gentler gender’s” battle for equality has not been won. Lord, no.
Disclaimer: I am not and never have been a militant activist. I never marched, never chanted a mantra, carried a poster or burned a bra. Instead, I listened, waited and, uh, reacted, usually in print. Because I still believe you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
And then you smash them. The first thing happened when Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, made an announcement concerning implementation of new sanctions against Russia. This had been correct information when she received it.
Then, the “administration” altered course, without keeping her in the loop — like, let’s not bother the pretty little lady with details. President Trump reportedly had a hissy-fit, sending his economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, out to say Haley was “confused.”
Really? I’ll bet the farm the word “confused” would never be applied to a man. It’s one of those adjectives saved for smart gals, implying “overwhelmed,” despite their sterling qualifications.
Haley, God bless, snapped back with “I don’t get confused,” which undoubtedly trickled up to Trump, who will get over his tantrum because she has good legs. (Remember his “great shape” comment while ogling Brigitte Macron, the French president’s dishy wife?)
So, despite all the women governors, senators, Supreme Court justices, Cabinet members, astronauts, CEOs, brain surgeons and generals, women under pressure are still prone to “confusion.” Gee, I hope the boss won’t fire this nonwhite, youngish female from a predominantly white, oldish male government.
Then, on Tuesday, an engine on a Southwest Airlines 737 exploded at 30,000 feet. A piece of it hit the plane, breaking a window and causing a pressure differential that sucked a passenger partially through the opening.
Despite dire mechanical issues, panic in the cabin and near-certainty of crash, the pilot adjusted course and headed for the nearest airport, landing the plane safely in Philadelphia. All but one of the 149 passengers survived without major injuries. The pilot was credited with a miracle.
Then news hit that the pilot was a WOMAN — Tammie Jo Shults, one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots, who flew F/A-18s but not in combat. You could hear shock and awe from reporters who for the next hour identified her as “the woman pilot.”
I don’t remember Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed a Charlotte-bound USAirways plane in the Hudson River in 2009, being called the “man pilot.” Tom Hanks played Sully in the movie, got an Oscar nomination. Who’ll play Tammie Jo?
Yes, at under 4 percent of commercial pilots, females are a novelty in the cockpit, the very word derived from a place where roosters fought. But here I gleaned inference that — surprise! — a woman remained calm, didn’t cave under life-and-death pressure. Maybe boys don’t cry. But neither do girls, when it counts.
Then I watched one of James Comey’s umpteen book-tour interviews, this one slamming Trump for “treating women like pieces of meat.” Just imagine, more than 50 years after women’s “liberation” the president of the United States is censured by the former FBI director for what is painfully obvious: No matter how brilliant or savvy, a woman still must bat her eyelashes to be noticed by some guys.
Finally, “60 Minutes” aired a segment on continuing pay inequality for the same work — a tired and frustrating refrain.
But I found some encouragement in a strange place: While embattled Trump fixer Michael Cohen and Trump himself were choking down a fingernail sandwich over what had transpired in a Manhattan courtroom, in sweeps Stormy Daniels with a spot-on lawyer and a lucid statement: Expose the truth.
Remember Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”?
“You can’t handle the truth.”
Certainly women are not equal to men in enough areas to be accepted and treated on a level plane without calling attention to it. Of course men are better at some things, like chopping down trees and installing a fan belt. I appreciate those capabilities and wouldn’t change them for the world. But although their shoulders may be broader, their brains are about the same size — and do not function any better, from what I’ve observed.
So next time a woman lands a disabled aircraft, saving 149 lives, don’t act surprised; just call her a heroine, pay her the same as the flyboys and let it go at that.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.