Walk through the history of a lesser known civil rights struggle: the history of male flight attendants from its beginnings to the present, and the significant role they played in efforts to expand greater dignity and equality to LGBTQ Americans. Presented by Associate Professor of History, Phil Tiemeyer.
This is a live webinar. Register here for the Zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5JWkpAamS52NDhHFlq7LFA
Nowadays when we travel by air, there is about a 15% chance that the flight attendant who guides us through the safety video and offers us refreshments is a man. We probably don’t even remark on the worker’s gender, given that we expect both men and women to do this work. This wasn’t always the case, however. In fact, up until 1972, almost all US airlines refused to hire men for this job, deeming it “women’s work” that was too alike to the home-based duties of a wife and mother. Hosting guests and caring for needy children or anxiety-riddled spouse-aged adults were presumed to be natural feminine traits that men were simply ill-equipped to execute. This means that men who entered this profession – once they were allowed – were seen with suspicion. Whether they were or not, many customers and work colleagues assumed these men were gay. This talk walks us through the history of male flight attendants from its beginnings to the present, showing that whatever social pressures existed to trivialize or ostracize these men for entering a field of “women’s work”, they actually played a significant role in a lesser-known aspect of America’s civil rights struggles: efforts to expand greater dignity and equality to LGBTQ Americans.