Evangelical Pigs … in Spaaace!

il_794xN.341775485The Mississippi politician we learned about yesterday, the one who won’t allow a woman reporter onto his campaign bus unless she brings along a male chaperone, comes from the same strain of evangelism as former Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who won’t allow himself to be alone in a room with any woman not his wife.

The notion that women exist to seduce and ensnare men crosses cultures and religions, but is especially strong in American Protestant evangelism. Let me tell you about a former squadron mate of mine, a graduate of the US Air Force Academy in the days when Protestant evangelism was beginning to get a foothold there (today it’s the Academy’s official religion). One day, sitting in the ready room of the alert shack, I opened a magazine to a full page ad featuring a woman in a bikini. The young lieutenant walked into the room, saw what I was looking at, and almost literally tore his eyes away—he shuddered, then quickly slapped himself on the cheek while rolling his eyes up and whipping his head to the side, for all the world like a Looney Tunes cartoon character. My god, I thought, what if I’d been looking at a Playboy centerfold or watching porn on the ready room TV?

Speaking of which, a week later another alert crew put “Debbie Does Dallas” in the Betamax only to discover our holy roller had recorded PG-rated movies over every porn cassette in the aircrew library. None of us who were there then will ever forget that act of Taliban-like cultural desecration, but what sticks in my memory is the way he shuddered while slapping his own face as he averted his gaze from the woman in my magazine. “This kid is fucked up,” I thought then.

And fucked up is what these other men are, these creepy Christian Sharia Law dudes who think of women as satanic seductresses. Didn’t they grow up with sisters? Didn’t they go to school with girls and chase after them when they grew into horny teenagers, like the rest of us? Sure they did. So what happened? How did those mega-church pastors get their hooks in them and teach them to fear women?

I’ve always loved movies and TV shows like “Starship Troopers” and “The Expanse,” which depict futures where men and women have become truly equal in every field, no assumptions made and no questions asked. And believe me, that’s the future I want, the one I grew up believing it and still dream is possible. And though things do seem to be getting better for women … working women in Western societies, that is, who still have to do the two steps backward for every three steps forward dance … there’s such a goddamned long way to go, and men like Mike Pence and this asshole in Mississippi keep grabbing the headlines and reminding us that the next two-steps-backward regression could see us living in the Gilead of Margaret Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale.”

I’ve written more than a few posts about women in the military, specifically rated woman officers in the US Air Force. Academy-graduate male evangelicals have moved into all levels of Air Force leadership, looking out for and promoting one another. Yes, some women are moving up into leadership roles, but here’s my question: how much resistance do these women face from senior male officers whose first thought about them is that they’re out to lure them into some kind of sexual trap?

Another question: what do evangelical women believe? Mike Pence’s wife. What’s-her-face in Mississippi. They go to the same mega-churches and listen to the same pastors. Do they buy into this women-as-agents-of-temptation shit being preached to the men? What about Academy-graduate female Air Force officers? Do they plan their career-advancement strategies around the fact that male superiors who share their faith don’t trust them and will never think of them as equals?

I guess I ought to ask my senator, Martha McSally, because she’s one of them (and also an example of a successful woman Air Force officer and pilot). Maybe she can explain these mysteries to me.

p.s. The inset graphic at the top of the post is a Soviet poster honoring Valentina Tereshkova, who in 1963 became the first woman to travel in space. I thought of her just now when writing about the future worlds depicted in Starship Troopers and The Expanse. I know it’s kind of a leap for a post about creepy evangelical men who hate women, but it’s also where the title of the post comes from, and that’s how my mind is working this morning.

p.p.s. If anyone needs an explanation of my reference to former Indiana Governor Mike Pence, it’s for the same reason I never use the title “president” with regard to the current occupant of the White House: neither man was elected.


2 thoughts on “Evangelical Pigs … in Spaaace!

  • My wife’s hash name is Pigs in Spaaaaaace!
    I had to chuckle when I first saw this in my email.

    There are still a lot of people out there, even young men (and women) who struggle when they see a man and a woman as friends, intellectually and emotionally intimate yet never crossing the line into a physical relationship. One of my friend’s mother is constantly haranguing her about “carrying on with that married man” and another friend expressed to me her husband’s concern about our closeness. Like you said, we’ve come a long way but people still jump to conclusions that have no basis.

    In the workforce, specifically military, Navy, Carrier Service:

    A dear friend of mine, now a Flag Officer, grew up on the first wave of women in carrier aviation. As a pointy nose (VFA) jock, she endured things that still make my skin crawl. Even as a Squadron Commanding Officer, her CAG would not sit down and talk to her without another female in the room. Problem was, among female aviators, she had no (female) peers and often times a Junior Officer was brought in as the ‘observer.’ (How screwed up is that?) To this day I remind her, on the anniversary of her commissioning, of what she endured and how her persistence cleared the way and minimized obstacles for the women who followed her. And how I’m honored to have been witness to such a drastic change and growth.

    I remember as an Ensign being told when I was counseling a female Sailor to have another in the room and being (repeatedly) scolded when I didn’t. (Circa 1995) My kids appreciated it, all of them, both men and women. We all maintained a professional relationship, even when I was admonishing them, nobody tried to seduce anyone, and there were never any false accusations.

    Those who counseled me about risk avoidance and ‘appearance’ have long retired but their type are still out there. I honestly believe their numbers are fewer and fewer every day. Societal change is one of those things that takes generations and there will always be those on the leading and trailing edges. Military generations seem to run a little shorter than those on the outside effecting change faster but both still have a long way to go.

  • Gopher, your example had no female peers, and that is something my female USAF pilot friends say too. The early ones were pretty much on their own. I suspect it hasn’t gotten much better for the newer ones either … they are such a small slice of the pilot force, by the time they get spread out in operational units they’re one of one. I really admire their determination.

    I tried in this post to stay on a very narrow topic. But you’re right to bring up non-marital, non-sexual male/female friendships. A lot of men and women think those friendships should be avoided. But like you, I have always had female friends to play with and talk to. My life would be diminished without them. Donna understands this. Our tactic has always been to share those friendships. Works for us.

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