An airplane, crash landed in Lagos, Nigeria after losing its tyres, and while none of the on-board passengers were harmed, a news website couldn’t help but point out that it was being flown by a ‘female pilot’. Their deeply sexist tweet pointing unnecessarily at the gender of the pilot has invited a lot of ire on social media, and naturally so, because I do not recall ever reading any headline about a plane's crash landing, pointing out that a male pilot was flying it. There is a section in our society who can’t help but point a finger at women, even if they should be doing so towards faulty tyres.
- A plane had to crash land due to faulty tyres in the city of Lagos.
- One news website pointed out in their tweet that it was being flown by a female pilot.
- No one was hurt in the crash landing, but the skill displayed by the pilot here didn't deserve a gendered commentary.
- Why are we so obsessed to tie success and failure to gender?
Perhaps the writer wanted to pay a compliment to the woman pilot and take a dig at the stereotype that women can’t fly planes. But this isn’t 1930s and we all know that women can fly planes, very well that too.
According to PMS News Nigeria, the aircraft was apparently coming from Port Harcourt, Rivers State in Nigeria, when it experienced a technical fault and had to crash land on the runway. The landing gear of the plane collapsed after dropping some 30 ft. Such an incident could have led to a big tragedy, had the pilot not maneuvered the plane to crash land safely. The skills displayed in this case by the pilot are commendable, and there is no place for gender in this conversation.
Boeing 737 Plane Crash:— SUREYARNS (@sureyarns) July 23, 2019
A B737 airplane, flown by a Female pilot, crashlanded at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, MM2, Lagos state after losing its tyres. The Airpeace Aircraft was conveying passengers from Portharcourt, Rivers state. pic.twitter.com/eFuz4oElIO
The ‘female pilot’ comment could be a misinterpretation of the situation on the website's behalf. As if the woman was at fault somehow for the crash landing and her gender needed to be pointed out because hey, women are such bad drivers, how dare we trust them with flying planes. Or it could be a case of misplaced eagerness to fly the flag of women empowerment, which still came off as deeply sexist. Perhaps the writer wanted to pay a compliment to the woman pilot and take a dig at the stereotype that women can’t fly planes. But this isn’t 1930s and we all know that women can fly planes, very well that too.
Why can’t a good pilot be just that? Why do we keep looking at professional success and failures from the gendered lens? Why do we have to boil everything down about a person to their gender?
What we need to do now is to look beyond the gender, because that is where true empowerment and end of the bias and stereotyping that working women have to face across various fields lies. Isn’t it a bit condescending to say, “Hey look, a woman pilot managed to crash land a plane and saved so many lives,” in this day and age?
No matter how you perceive this tweet it is problematic. But there is a bigger question that we need to be asking here. Why is it difficult for us to look beyond gender, male or female? Why can’t a good pilot be just that? Why do we keep looking at professional success and failures from the gendered lens? Why do we have to boil everything down about a person to their gender?
The tweet was just one example of how there is no escaping gendered commentary in our world, good or bad. And one does wonder, if it is even possible to attain equality, unless we learn to have a dialogue devoid of gender?
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.