Debate Magazine

Sally Ride

Posted on the 24 July 2012 by Mikeb302000
We take it more for granted than we used to do that women could do whatever they wanted; there was a time when there were very few women in the sciences.
We take it as a given that women can successfully do dangerous, adventurous things now more so than we used to do.  There was a time when women were considered the weaker sex, less competent and capable than men.
The progress of feminism is that women can now come closer to fulfilling their potential than they could previously.  I am old enough to remember being told that there were things that girls couldn't do just because they were female.  I used to hate that; very few things could make me as angry when I was growing up as that assumption about potential and ability.
I remember being told by a very traditional mother that I had to hide being smart because males did not like competition from women.  My response was that I wasn't interested in the approval of someone less intelligent than I was - male or female, and that I didn't care if smart men liked or disliked competition from women either, but that I thought they would prefer smart women to stupid women, all other things being equal.  I obstinately refused to play dumb as I had been directed.
I remember a series of risk taking activities I engaged in growing up that concluded successfully; and repeating ad infinitum to my parents and other adults that I was brave, not stupid, meaning I was quite capable of assessing risk, and did so before acting.  I was fortunate to grow up with the influence of an adult mentor who enjoyed my mind, who spoke with me as an equal, and who took the time to discuss risk taking and assessment during my childhood.
So for a variety of reasons I rejoiced at the career of Sally Ride as the first woman to venture into space.  She was a woman of science, but also a woman of action.  She personified in her own personal pursuit of her career what women could do in a world that regressively tried to restrict women.  She did so while demonstrating not only intelligence and courage, but grace and humor; she proved that women could be adventurous without being less feminine, that we didn't have to become masculine or imitative of men or male caricatures, to succeed.
It is a tragic loss to all of us, but especially to the women of the world that she has died so young.  We still have so many obstacles to overcome; women make less than men, and certain opportunities although we have made improvements as a gender are still closed to us instead of being determined by merit and ability.  We still live in a world where conservative men have speculated on whether or not menstruation might make a woman unsuitable to serve on the Supreme Court, as when G. Gordon Liddy used the argument to attack Sonia Sotomayor's appointment in 2009.  We still live in a world where a coservative Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia doesn't believe the U.S. Constitution prohibits discrimination against women.  And we still have the obscenity rantings of conservative Rush Limbaugh and failed candidate Rick Santorum that equates women controlling their reproductive lives and sexuality with being sluts.  And last but not least we have the idiot right winger from Wisconsin who believes that women don't care about money, so therefore it should be legal not to give equal pay for equal work.
The greatest tribute to the accomplishments of Sally Ride is to oppose the conservative war on women.
We live in a post-Sally Ride as astronaut world where a leading New Zealand Neuroscientist, James Flynn, in the area of Intelligence and IQ testing has found that women in the developed world have not only made tremendous strides, we have done so at a rate that surpasses men, as an indication of nurture showing a pronounced influence on the natural raw intelligence potential we inherit.
She has died too soon; her inspiration to all of us, but especially her influence on girls growing up now in a world changed by Sally Ride will continue after her.  She has left us a tremendous legacy, which the videos below document.  Thank you, Sally Ride; Rest in Peace.
We have a duty to your accomplishments to continue to fight any effort to limit and restrict women on the basis of gender rather than merit.  Our world is larger and richer in opportunities because of you.

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