I know that most of you are aware of my feminist roots and my own personal beliefs and because of that I hope that you find this as shocking as I did.
I came across this article today that highlighted some of the rules that China has put in place for their female astronauts (also known as taikonauts) and I was appalled at the blatant discrimination!
Rule #1 Female Taikonauts must be married
Rule #2 Female Taikonauts must have given birth naturally
These first two rules are intended to ensure that female taikonauts have experienced enough that would guarantee them the heightened level of maturity necessary for going into space. Are immature men allowed to go into space, or are they deemed to have a naturally higher level of maturity without any comparable test required?
Rule #3 Female Taikonauts must not have any scars (or must have perfect skin)
Rule #4 Female Taikonauts must not have any decayed or imperfect teeth
Rule #5 Female Taikonauts must not have any body odour
Rule 3 exists under the belief any scars or skin blemishes could open up while in space and bleed. Rule 4 just seems to speak to the photogenic quality of female taikonauts and perhaps may contribute to Rule 5, which has no basis other than to ensure a more comfortable journey for the male taikonauts (who have no requirements on odour or lack thereof).
Women were also given only 3 years of training, compared to the standard 14 – perhaps because they couldn’t have possible gotten married and had children during the same time frame if expected to go into space in their early to mid 30s.
It seems to me that women are being chosen for the ways in which they represent the ‘ideal’ or ‘perfect’ Chinese woman and how they will appear while doing so instead of on their actual ability. Why not choose to represent the nation with the most capable and talented taikonaut? Since when does childbirth, perfect skin and teeth, and an unnatural lack of body odour contribute to one’s technical ability?