And if she lost, you know what? Someone would come out with “well she had no business racing anyway.” And this is just about horses.
I have a feeling the attitude extends to plenty of other areas. I remember an
There was a recent episode of “Cold Case” (stop that laughing) I watched that involved a fictional military institution (Pennsylvania Military Institute, or “P.M.I.”—get it? Like “V.M.I.” except it’s not, wink, wink). Anyway, this involved a 2003 case of a female cadet who mysteriously turned up dead. I told my husband “This is kind of not relevant anymore,” but then again, maybe I’m wrong. I remember 1995 when Shannon Faulkner entered the Citadel. I remember the disbelief at the people fighting her entrance into the school as well as my own classmate who claimed “The Citadel is done if they ever let women in.” (I wish I’d asked him why he chose West Point, since most of his discussions involved high praise for The Citadel).
Shannon Faulkner didn’t make it, but was that any surprise? She wasn’t really in shape, but also, she was the only woman to enter with her class. That’s pretty much a recipe for failure. At least the service academies let in more than one, and at least many of them made it through. Someone has to be the first, but it’s easier to be the first when someone else is doing it too. Your name might not make the news, but you have a better chance of getting through.
I’m sure there was just as much bullshit in the first class of female West Pointers. The first year is hard enough, I couldn’t imagine the additional sexism heaped onto that already generous pile. When you have a general, and graduate, General Westmoreland, claiming that women in combat would have to be “freaks” you have to wonder. For every guy that speaks his true feelings, I’m guessing there are a bunch that secretly think it, but don’t say it.
Maybe this extended to the way we were viewed as cadets too. I remember the mindset that we “gray trou” weren’t dating material. I am guessing this was based in fear too—who would want to date someone that wouldn’t be wowed by your uniform or your daily exploits because she’s doing pretty much the same thing? And then--horror or horrors--what if she’s better at doing it than you are?
I was never any kind of stud at anything at West Point—I struggled with many things. I also don’t think most guys were against me. I’m sure there were a few, but without the vast number that helped, I wouldn’t have made it. People are changing, and I think men change as they live and see what women can do. I think they change when they have daughters and turn into the person that does not want someone else limiting his kid’s future because she’s a girl.