When It Comes To Equality, Words Matter

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I kind of got it when I was looking for photos to accompany last Monday’s story on an FAA committee’s recommendation that the agency adopt gender-neutral terminology for its reams of printed and digital material, trading terms like airman for aviator, cockpit for flight deck and unmanned for drone.

As a relatively privileged white male, I admit that I’m prone to eye glazing on such issues. I’m sympathetic enough to the cause to be empathetic to those fighting the fight, but we view the world through a lens shaped by personal experience and I simply haven’t experienced prejudice, sexism or social injustice. That likely means that I am guilty, hopefully unwittingly, of perpetrating those things against others but it sure doesn’t mean that I condone, or worse, support it. But it does mean that I really (I mean really) don’t care what they call the place with the flight controls or what we call the people trained to manipulate those controls.

At the same time, I don’t see a communist hiding behind every thesaurus at FAA HQ as the agency decides what to do with the recommendations of the committee, which was co-chaired by AOPA President Mark Baker. So even though I’m more exposed to the issue than most by virtue of this job, I didn’t think I had any skin in the game so I didn’t spend much time thinking about it unless I was being paid to think about it.

The committee’s rationale for recommending the rewrite is as pragmatic as it is socially responsible. It’s not firebrand stuff. We simply need to get together on how to describe an industry that was once accurately depicted by the words and terms but is no longer. It seems ironic to me that the marginal gains in gender equality in aviation in recent years are now used as justification by those who puzzlingly oppose the wording changes. The logic is that since there have been some successes in diversifying the aviation workforce, we no longer need to work at it and that doing so is somehow offensive. 

For years, I’ve gone about my business in a blissful state of limbo between these oddly adversarial forces. My attitude defined ambivalence but I hope not intolerance. That changed a bit on Sunday evening as I hunted down a photo to illustrate the rather dry and bureaucracy-heavy story. I thought it would be nice to have a photo with a male and female pilot in the flight deck and with the female in the left seat. There were hundreds of photos of male-female flight decks but not one with a female captain and male FO. The only pictures of female captains had female FOs, often mother-daughter teams and publicity photos for all-female crews. I ended up going with an embarrassingly cliché man-woman pilot pic that I’ve also included with this blog.

I found it glaring and illuminating at the same time. Some of those involved in trying to make flight decks more inclusive have taken the view that the reason women are so underrepresented in aviation is that the overwhelming public perception of aviation is that it’s dominated by men. Women, despite what we men say, don’t feel welcome. Many men argue that there is nothing stopping women from becoming pilots, mechanics, engineers and whatever else they want to be, but a woman looking around at career opportunities couldn’t miss the testosterone levels in most workplaces.

We can finger point and say that women should just suck it up and get past that vague discomfort. Indeed, thousands have done so but many also have war stories from the battle of the sexes. So we can waste energy debating what is and what isn’t a waste of time or we can see if making some changes might help. Taking all the male bias out of the regs and correspondence at the agency that has influence over every aspect of the industry seems like a reasonable thing to do in that context.

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84 COMMENTS

  1. Has it come down to THIS–we can’t use the words “Airman”, “unmanned”, or “cockpit”?

    This is “virtue signaling” at its worst. According to Merriam-Webster, “Airman and unmanned” refer to the word pilots–not sex. “Airman” is defined as “a civilian or military pilot, aviator, or aviation technician”– and “Manned” is defined as “having a human crew” or “carrying, staffed, or performed by one or more people”. No mention of sexism THERE.

    Objection to the word “cockpit” is even FARTHER AFIELD. According to Wikipedia, “The word cockpit seems to have been used as a nautical term in the 17th century,….the word “Cockpit came to mean a control center–OR “a compartment in a sailing warship used as quarters for junior officers and for treatment of the wounded in an engagement.” Oxford Languages defines it as “A compartment for the pilot, and sometimes also the crew, in an aircraft or spacecraft.”

    There is no mention of sexism–indeed, Oxford Languages defines “man” as “a human being of EITHER SEX; A PERSON–“goodwill to all men” and “human beings in general; the human race.”

    I’m not against equality–in 52 years in the FBO business, I’ve employed female Department heads, administrators, female flight crews, and maintenance personnel. On the other hand, I don’t endorse “reverse discrimination”–that a prospective employee should be considered instead of a more qualified employee simply because of gender or “quotas.” That’s not fair to the more qualified employee–it discriminates solely because of gender. In the passenger section, would it be fair to REQUIRE airlines to employ MALE cabin personnel in order to have “gender equality” in that section? After all, if it is required in the “cockpit”–the same rules should be applied to the REST of the aircraft. On the maintenance side, should airlines NOT hire the most qualified “person” to maintain the aircraft? Should they pass over more qualified males in order to maintain “gender balance” on their staff?

    Moving beyond aviation, should we eliminate the term “nurses” for medical personnel? After all–it COULD mean “lactation” or “breastfeeding”–which would eliminate all male caregivers. Should we change the Declaration of Independence, removing the “offensive” “All men are created equal” in favor of “all persons are created equal”? Perhaps the “easily offended” would prefer that laws and documents were written in Esperanto!

    If we were to truly judge people solely on their merits, we would (and could) remove any reference to sex (is it still OK to use that word?) from an employment application–and make job selections solely on their accomplishments and aptitudes–rather than trying to fill an artificial quota and passing over better qualified people. We need to STOP the “virtue signaling”–let our ACTIONS demonstrate our virtue–not “politically correct” speech.

  2. “and I simply haven’t experienced prejudice, sexism or social injustice”

    BS. We all have; point being is that sensible reasonable people just don’t dwell on it. We were taught reality with sayings like “sticks and stones” and words will never hurt us.

    This re-write is not about good changes, it’s about assuming that women are either too weak or too ignorant to be able to use traditional terminology WITHOUT becoming emotionally upset. I must be alone in thinking women are better than that.

  3. Resistance to change is evident here again by the familiar Dogs of Pavlov. While the rest of society has moved on from fireman to firefighter, mailman to letter carrier, stewardess to flight attendant, policeman to police officer, salesman to salesperson, and many more down the line, all accomplished with very little known panty-twisting, yet again, in the land of aging pilots and tired, old airplanes with 1930’s engine tech, comes the s…l…o…w…parade of – the ‘Sunset Resistance!’

    Yes, folks, this retarding force of old-timers and hoarse lawn caretakers/owners will entertain you to their primitive ways of thinking from misty ages past, when myways were highways, and everyone knew their place – or should have – all the while misusing trendy, new words like “woke” and ‘electric airplanes’ !!!

    Admission is free. All you have to do is tolerate the same complaints over …and over… and over… and over …..
    Bring a chair, a Paul Berge novel and maybe a camera for the ‘Sunset Resistance’! Happy Fourth!

    • Oh, change is fine, but this is wrong because it is NOT Democratic. Changes in speech that is forced down for political reasons is tyrannical. So if words have meaning then this the very definition of tyranny.

    • You sure are a woke little fellow, I’m betting you are whiter than snow, with your white “privilege” glaring for all to see, and your virtual signaling is your way to take the spotlight off you. What woman out there lost her chance at a job you took?

    • Flight attendant should be flight crew… ‘attendant’ is so degrading to my Wokeness.
      Police ‘officer’… they didn’t attend college and receive a commission… they are
      likely crazy enlisted pukes that want to kill people after returning from war.
      Just the word ‘police’ triggers my Wokeness.

    • The “Wokers” (or is that, “Wonkers”?) call those that believe that a new language needs to be created to avoid “offensive speech” where not was intended.

      They seem to forget that the terms mentioned have served us well for over 100 years–nobody in 100 years has objected to being called an “Airman” or refused to take a seat in the “cockpit”–after all, NONE of these terms refer to gender–EXCEPT in the mind of the “perpetually offended.” These malcontents had to actually WORK to find a reason to complain about a non-issue. It is THIS attitude by “Wokers”–trying hard to find something to complain about is the problem–they expect everyone else to conform to THEIR suddenly discovered “misinformation”. As for most of us, we are happy to use the terms that have served for over 100 years, with no ill effects. Perhaps “Wokers” should ask themselves–“If this is offensive, why has this not been brought up in the last century?

      And that is the problem–“Wokers” believe that EVERYONE ELSE SHOULD CONFORM TO THEIR NEWLY DISCOVERED BELIEFS. In that regard, they are heirs to Jonestown-like cults–that THEY are the “One and true new religion” (“woke”)–that their actions will lead to a better world (the giant spaceship hidden behind the Hale-Bopp comet)–right down to “drinking the kool-aid.” PARDON US IF WE DON’T BELIEVE AS YOU DO–if that’s your opinion, fine, but don’t try to force it on the rest of us.

      Most of us believe in “Live and let live”–but counter-culture “Wokers” actually BELIEVE that “everyone else is wrong except us”–these are the same types of “true believers” that believed that leisure suits, paisley shirts, bowl haircuts, and platform shoes were the “wave of the future.” Seems pretty silly today.

  4. The cost of revising nearly every document seems staggering, but I suppose most of the aviation documents are revised at least yearly. What I am most concerned about is the confusion that will reign, and clog the radio channels, as the entire national mindset has to be revised to accommodate those who are emotionally disturbed by words that offend them.

  5. What a pity, I actually DO have a cockpit (oops, flight deck sorry!) photo with a female captain and male FO. Even better, they were husband and wife, and had requested the flight to Venice (Italy, not CA). It was 20 years ago, but unfortunately it’s a private photo so I can’t send it to you.
    But I can’t believe that this combination can’t be found on the internet, as it’s after all the statistically most frequent occurrence when the captain is a woman. How is this possible?

  6. All posts above mine – with the exception of Dave Miller’s – demonstrate a mindset and reason the change is needed. Unlike others – I’ll be making sure AvWeb get’s into my “InBox”.

    • I read articles like this with a genuinely open mind. But as another commenter said, this is the height of virtue signaling. You’re surprised that the only pictures of female airmen are from dog-and-pony-show articles where they’re paraded around to show how woke a company is? Of course that’s what you find when you only ever treat them like a PR bit! You don’t see the irony there? All of that is for show. Women who are intimidated out of aviation are done so not by words like airmen or cockpit, but by arrogant, belittling jerks. This rewording, while itself harmless (besides being a waste of time and effort), doesn’t do a thing besides pat the backs of SJWs to satisfy their own desires and need to feel validated. You want to make real change? Influence attitudes and treat people with respect. You might be surprised how much farther that goes towards making people feel welcome than not saying “cockpit”.

  7. Words are important. Kudos to Russ and Mark Baker and many others who are unafraid to speak out in favor of what should not be a controversial subject. In our era of electronic publishing, updating even hundreds of thousands of documents is a trivial matter.

  8. Words DO you have meaning.

    -Aviation is not male “dominated”.
    -Everyone in the USA is “privileged” to be here.
    -There is no hiring “discrimination”, by law, in the USA.
    -There is no meaning for “social justice” because it’s a revenge ideology that intentionally can never be defined or satisfied.

  9. Russ’ commentary reflects expectations from 2000, but when a minority talks about equality or equity in 2021 they’re really demanding superiority: mandatory affirmative action, accelerated promotions, quotas, diminished standards, and reparations.

    The above, when codified by progressives, violate both the US Constitution, as well as the Civil Rights Act.

    Both CRT, and now, US anti-Christian government policies, violate the latter’s race and religion clauses:

    “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the nation’s premier civil rights legislation. The Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, required equal access to public places and employment, and enforced desegregation of schools and the right to vote.”

  10. Good point — I married someone who very much identified as a feminist and still 35 years later occasionally starts swearing at the radio and TV for the language they use — not often telling me off now but still occasionally.
    I also have nieces and granddaughters and once you become aware of it, you realise it is just not good for them to be subject to sexist language as they grow.
    The feminism jumped a generation, but now the granddaughters are not just prepared to tackle sexists verbally but to act on it too — walking out of meetings and refusing to do business with people who show it.
    Good for them.

  11. Oh for God’s sake. The Chinese are laughing their well-educated backsides off at us. They sell us massive windmills that spin only part of the time and solar panels that only make power part of the time while they develop coal and nuclear. Then there’s the disposal problem when our toys reach their expected twenty-year life span. Their children attend our universities, get the best engineering skills in the world while ours take degrees in “gender studies.” Now we worry about “airmen” in our aviation publications. Look – wake up and wise up and learn the difference between – biblically speaking – straining at the gnat and swallowing the damned camel.

  12. ‘Virtue signaling’ is the correct term.

    Individual merit is the essential.

    Bessie Coleman succeeded over a century ago, in those days did not get points for being the first black African, Native American, female from Texas to fly. Did take much effort due to segregation limiting training opportunities but she did it.

    That’s collectivism, which does not support aviation skills.

    I do rant about the pilot union in the US after WW II, that convinced gummint that persons who flew hastily assembled airplanes after rollout then delivered them across the stormy North Atlantic before good weather forecasting was available were not tempermentaly suited to fly passengers in the controlled and supported domestic environment. IOW, the union jerks co-opted government force against a demographic, the only way to block people from pursuing what they want.

    (Segregation of course does not exist unless force is used, whether anarchy – lack of policing, or government force as with trams in Louisiana. (Instructive story from there of a tram operator financing a lawsuit by a young black-skinned person to eliminate requirement to segregate cars. Yes, a win would be financially advantageous for tram operator by reducing number of cars needed on average.

    Over half a century ago ‘equality’ was shown by people flocking to California, high schools not segregated there. Today people are voting with their feet to move out of that now oppressive society, Texas being a common destination.)

    As for Russ’ inability to find a photo showing a mixed-gender flight crew with female in left seat, did he think one with two females would be discriminatory somehow? Why not organize his own photo?

    Perhaps he should instead be out reporting on fire aviation in BC, where the town of Lytton just burned up.

  13. Wow. More people self-identifying in comments. Not astonishing, but sad.

    I just recently saw the Air Disasters episode that covered the Southwest flight out of New York that had an uncontained engine failure and a passenger sucked out the window. The captain was a woman; the FO a man. That would have provided a great picture if there was one to be had.

    All y’all who are showing butthurt over this are really not putting yourselves in a good light.

  14. In the grand scheme of things I couldn’t care less what woke terminology the government uses in the regulations. I am referred to as he, him, a##hole, grumpy old fart what ever I just don’t care anymore. If I use the wrong terminology around someone and they are offended I will apologize and be more careful and avoid conversation that person in the future.

  15. Regrettable that you had to experience the agony of searching for the perfect picture to represent your sensitivity. What a bunch of crap. Had to remind myself I was now reading this kind of absolute tripe on AVweb. Yeah, that’s why I come to this publication, to be brow beaten about how terrible things are.

    Congratulations, Russ. You’re now “illuminated” and on the virtue bandwagon. I hope you feel better about yourself now. Maybe try to write something important and relevant to the industry next time.

  16. Thank you, Russ! I don’t know if you could have expressed this idea in a more logical, unemotional way… and still, the Old Guard are so worked up about it they can hardly stand it.

    James B., who used the Civil Rights Act to “prove” that there is no descrimination since it was passed into law: if you truly believe that, I suggest you spend a couple hours at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. There, you will see countless examples of massive efforts – local, state, and national – to absolutely deny the rights “guaranteed’ by that Act. I was there a week ago, and it turned my stomach.

    The truth is that, when confronted with any sort of change to the status quo (i.e., old white guys in charge of everything, all the time), we, as a group (the old white guys) will do almost anything to resist it, laws be damned.

    The world is changing – it always has been, and it’s never going to stop. Get over it.

  17. The proposed changes are a simple but meaningful cleanup of choice of words that are meant to apply to everyone.
    To downplay the power of words is foolish – words are at the source of most human conflicts and can easily lead to depression, fears and anger.
    People even kill each other over words time and again.
    I’m sure we can all remember situations where words hurt us, or where our words hurt someone – and we were surprised to hear that. Such a surprise is the moment where we can make a choice between understanding something or staying righteous and ignorant.

  18. One more comment: it absolutely astounds me that so many people, who claim that the words “airman”, “cockpit”, and “unmanned” are just fine… get SO twisted out of shape by the words “aviator”, “flight deck”, and “drone”. Either words matter, or they don’t, guys – you can’t have it both ways.

  19. I can’t remember the flight deck being called cockpit in the last 30 years. I figured it was a derogative term for the guy / guys flying and that that is why it wasn’t used anymore.
    I’m so glad as a white privileged / angry white male , I will no longer be subjected to the derogative term cockpit.
    Thank You FAA, we are finally making progress. There are many other things that make me upset 😢. Like taking tests. They expect me to know racist math where 2+2=4. This must change. When I say my weight is 185, I’m offended when told I weigh 200 at my flight physical. And yea, I don’t like being eye balled for physicals either. No more physicals.

  20. I’m getting really tired of all this political correctness/gender neutral/black-white/woke dope bull$hit! This country is turning into a cesspool of destructive thought brought on by a load of progressive pansies.

  21. Many years ago, while sitting at one of the ORD radar room’s radar scopes, vectoring our usually huge volume of airplanes into the ORD airport, an all female AAL B727 flight crew came in and sat near me to be duly impress and amazed at the magic we did. During a pause in the activity, the Capt. said to me, “when we ladies are all flying together like today, we don’t call the front of the airplane the cockpit, we call it the box office.” Now, although slightly embarrassed, I laughed my ass off. My kind of “we don’t sweet the small stuff folks”.

  22. Harking back to Russ’ original blog, and my original comment, my ire is not over the proposed changes to language (although some of them are downright silly).

    My pique is raised because an Agency finds the time to do this benign work, even while failing to find the time to do all sorts of overdue things – like the Primary Category Aircraft rule, for example.

    It’s the Agency’s priorities that disappoint me. Maybe AFTER we re-write half a million pages of minutia, we can get some other action out of the FAA. Hope springs eternal.

    • The lack of the five year + effort to result in the Primary Aircraft category is MY #1 ire with the FAA. With SO little effort, they could have rejuvenated GA in a massive way. Instead, we get this non- productive crap!

      I wish there was a way to remove any funding for such ridiculous efforts!

  23. As long as the changes are made to documents as revised or published, and don’t increase the administrative costs or burden, then let them be made. My only reluctance is the revision of documents solely for the purpose of making these changes. We don’t need to spend time and money simply to satisfy a false virtue when there are so many other much more important things that the FAA must resolve first.

  24. It is amazing how much momentum this insane movement has gained in the last year. And the sickest part is that it originates with a very small group of people who have managed to scare many others who would normally be reasonable.

    I now see this creeping from the general media to the aviation media. Most of the people demanding these bizarre changes (or the frightened ones who nervously agree to it) seem to be well educated and successful. It seems these people are terrified of losing their place in the “club”, whether they be corporate CEOs, celebrities, scientists or writers for Avweb.

    People are not thinking this through, they are simply reacting out of fear, hoping they can ride it out and not be canceled.

    Trust me, many women, racial minorities and gays are insulted by woke culture as it diminishes them.

    This is brewing up a social storm that will end up hurting is all.

  25. Could someone please explain how this would enhance SAFETY (remember the FAA’s primary mission)?

    Oh I know, if someone has hurt feelings then they won’t be able to focus on the job of “safely” flying the aircraft… Perhaps if they can’t deal with these feelings they are too easily distracted and probably have made a poor career choice.

    Also, as someone who worked for the FAA for 33 years, I can tell you this will cost A LOT of money. There will be countless work groups, meetings, training programs and lets not forget we will add several executive positions (Deputy Administrator for Inclusion?) their thee assistants and support staff.

  26. “as relatively privileged white male” Really Russ? How many butts are you trying to kiss? Is your job in danger? Echos of Obama’s “you didn’t build this” it was really done by some slave somewhere and you stole it do to your white privilege. I just added AOPA to National Geographic subscription termination list.

  27. The reason there aren’t more women in aviation is because women prefer to be someplace else, for whatever reason. The percentages in the airlines have stayed steady for decades. Biasing the recruitment process will not get you more women but poorer pilots. It never ceases to amaze me that the generation that was raised on Family Guy, South Park and the Simpson can be offended by anything!

  28. My question is simply, why is this even printed here. It’s just all “eye wash” really. People feel safe enough that at Yale you can’t use the term “rule of thumb” because of some standard from 100+ years ago that nobody knows.

    It’s the cool thing to write stuff like this and makes the author feel better. Good for him, her, it, they…
    Problem is they say stupid stuff, write really stupid stuff to make themselves feel better.
    No go get your blanket and lie down Russ. The mental exercise for you to actually think about this must have caused some real exhaustion and headaches.

  29. Somewhere – maybe floating on an Olympian cloud or perhaps in a more mundane control center with hundreds of scifi-ish screens and displays – there is a group of entities laughing their posteriors off & saying things like “OK, I was wrong the last time, but this new test package is over the top idiotic, you’ll never get a majority of them to go for that!” and “Oh, yeah? I told you, it’s working like a charm, it just gets easier and easier. BS rejection is already down to 18% and pretty soon they’ll stop thinking on their own completely.”

  30. You know what’s really funny? No one gives a REASON *not* to change the language, other than “it’s traditional.” Who’s it going to hurt if we make our words less alienating to prospective pilots?

    For all the talk about the fragility of the Left, there seems to be quite a bit of it on the Right. As ONE commenter pointed out (before being excoriated), no one died from turning “stews” into “FAs.”

  31. Thank you Russ for your well reasoned reflection. Simply put, there comes a time when it is appropriate to revise texts so as to reflect reality and that is what this is about. Nothing more, nothing less. All the blathering about wasting time and money and wokeness and virtue signaling and political correctness is nothing more than male gender insecurity which is intrinsic to old guard masculinity if the preponderance of the preceding commentary is a true indication. Man up guys!

  32. I don’t see any women acknowledge themselves as such in the comments, so I thought I would chime in. I really don’t care about the terms airman, cockpit, etc., or think changing those terms will do much. However, words do matter to some extent. Even though the FAA now calls me a “Technician”, I still prefer and use the older term “Mechanic”, because I feel it has a long and storied history. I have to admit to feeling offended the first time I was referred to as a “Girl Mechanic”, causing me to ask my coworkers how they would feel being referred to as a “Boy Mechanic” when asked why I was put off. That short conversation with them was enough to make them think a bit. Sometimes just a quick comeback is enough for us to all put our differences aside and get back into the business of drilling holes in the sky.

    • I understand the ‘girl’ term does even sound weird to me in some instances. Even the term female mechanic sounds as bad as male mechanic.
      When someone has to place a sex identifier in front of a noun used to describe someone, it isn’t good, unless it required to clearly identify an individual. Introducing someone as a female is virtue signaling if the person can clearly make the distinction for themselves.
      If I’m standing in front of you and someone describes you as a female mechanic, I have to wonder if the guy or girl is insulting my intelligence. As if I can’t tell if someone is male or female (unless I really can’t) 😜

  33. Reading the comments is almost funny. In the scheme of things this isn’t a big deal. To some any change is just so very difficult. Isn’t it a good thing to wake up? Or is it better to stay asleep?

  34. I don’t have a problem with the move to gender neutral terminology. I think it conveys an acknowledgment that society evolves and recognizes that some terms are perceived as disrespectful to a part of the aviation community.

    I asked 6 women I know who are pilots or mechanics what they thought. It was 50/50, half did not care the other half thought it was about time. A small sample size, admittedly, but enough for me to be for the changes.

    • ” I think it conveys an acknowledgment that society evolves and recognizes that some terms are perceived as disrespectful to a part of the aviation community.” And THAT’S THE PROBLEM–YOU think it disrespectful–when no slight is intended. The terms have served for a hundred years–but only after “someone” NOW finds it “disrespectful.”

      The rebellion against the “woke” crowd–those who find problems with language where no disrespect was intended–IS THE PROBLEM.

      Perhaps you can tell from the responses that “Woke” has run its course–people are not impressed by others that are so easily offended, or who wish to “virtue signal” that THEY are the “truly righteous”.

      Perhaps the “problem” is the lack of nearly universal military service today. I’d love to see the “easily offended” in basic training camp–“That Drill Sergeant OFFENDED me!”

      Most women in the cockpit/flight deck/front office/place where you steer the airplane…..DON’T CARE if you call them an “Airman” or “AirWoman”–they prefer “Just call me Captain–I believe I’ve EARNED IT!”

  35. I hope some of you saw the Social Flight webinar last Tuesday with the Schiff father and son. Until Barry explained it I didn’t know the origin of cockpit or why we spell hangar with an “a”. I think you can still download that episode.

  36. “Perhaps you can tell from the responses that “Woke” has run its course–people are not impressed by others that are so easily offended, or who wish to “virtue signal” that THEY are the “truly righteous”.”

    My goodness, the projection on this thread is off the charts.

    The new slurs being used by the sensitives among us, ‘woke’ and ‘virtue signalling,’ are being employed at every opportunity it seems, even in response to thoughtful people like Mr. Gagliardi and many others on this thread. Beware, a fearful man is a desperate man, and the usual suspects don’t disappoint.

    Ironically, wielding the term serves as virtue signalling in itself. By calling out virtue signalling, the speaker publicly claims the moral high ground, which is, in itself…
    Virtue signalling.

    Hey, that’s pretty ‘woke’, no? Say, can one be too ‘woke’? And how much ‘wokeness’ is enough? What if you’re sleeping and you dream only in a ‘wokeness’ state? Are you really asleep? Would you be in heaven or hell? :-O

    The problem, as I see it, isn’t ‘wokeness’ or ‘virtue transmitting’ at all, it’s, for a large portion of society today and evidently some pilots here also, needing to fight a war. Simple as that. Fear of losing status, property, an argument, their job, their values – you name it, has got them against their imaginary wall and War, g-dammit, is their only solution. Yeah, really, they see themselves that powerless.

    The reasons (FAA, politics, white grievance, BLM, looters, Dems, woke people, smart people, gubment, etc) are actually moot – we just need to stop fighting this stupid civil war, because it’s unwinnable.

    In this framework of fighting a war, here are a few of the principles of mass indoctrination from my periodic work in military psychology of the ways of perpetuating a war that I feel are relevant today, and might shed some light on these fears by some of words and their interpreted meanings.

    *Ostracize opposing voices thru defamation and ridicule –
    *Stir emotions and ignore reason and logic –
    *Drive every opponent into a corner. When they fight back with anything, act like a victim. –
    *Label all media not supporting your efforts as false –
    *Use propaganda and large events to keep people occupied and incited –
    *Sharply divide all actors into only two camps, and associate morality only into yours –
    *Eliminate nuance and always mix lies with facts to maintain imbalance –
    *Be offended at everything. Never give the opponent any recognition of worth or value.

    Nearly everyone I know is tired of this senseless war against anyone and everyone that triggers the fears and insecurities of sadly, so many people. I protested the Vietnam war, then ended up serving, and I’m protesting once again today but refusing to serve in this senseless war. We need to work toward peace, love and understanding, even if you find it funny.

    • No “fears and insecurities.” Read the comments–I don’t see anybody objecting to”feminine homo sapiens” in the “airplane-flying-place” (formerly known as the cockpit). NOT ONE.

      The 60s are waiting for you. Suggest you get dressed in your leisure suit (with a paisley shirt), put on your platform shoes–get in your Yugo–go down to the “free store” on your way to the protest against those “Evil Capitalists” that are “trying to keep women barefoot and pregnant.” While you are at it, don’t ignore the women that actually SUCCEEDED in accomplishing what you say can’t be done–or those of us who actually HELPED them achieve their goals!

  37. Thank you Russ, for what I consider to be a well-reasoned article. My opinion is that gender-neutral terminology makes sense and is not a big deal. Although the origin of ‘cockpit’ has nothing to do with male anatomy (or chickens), most people don’t know that, so ‘flight deck’ works for me.
    What really strikes me is the torrent of criticism that followed. A cursory examination of the contributors’ names shows them to be 99.9% male. I am guessing plenty of women read the article. And when they were done eye-rolling at the comments, they likely didn’t want to waste their time in responding. I would have done the same.
    One of my proudest moments as a pilot was taking the daughter of a friend on a ‘fam flight’. Three years later, she has SEL, MEL, IFR, CFI, working towards her goal of ATP. We need to make sure that all people are welcome to take this journey. I trust the certification process will ensure that only the worthy get there.

  38. It isn’t a battle of the sexes. It’s that many of us quietly but strongly feel this drive to purge the English language (and the species itself?) of any possible reference to sex is not only unnecessary but is a silly idea at its base.

    I have to side with Jim Hanson’s general view. Just because someone suddenly wakes, i.e. jumps on the latest “in thing” bandwagon, and twists their personal interpretation of a word’s meaning into a form they then claim to be not to their liking, doesn’t mean the entire English speaking world needs to immediately switch the language to accommodate their personal definition. The noisiest group isn’t always right.