One of my sisters in law has spent her whole career as a scientist working with NASA/JPL types, so I’m acutely aware of the barriers women face in those sorts of fields, and of how much worse they used to be. And I can appreciate that dealing with those sorts of barriers wears on people.
That said, I was rather taken aback by the vehemence of some of the responses to my earlier post, which generated all sorts of bizarre assumptions, i.e., that I think women aren’t interested in science and technology, and that I like sexism and phallocentric patriarchy and Hitler and the Yankees and that’s why I believe things like the Apollo project were so male-dominated.
Anyway, here’s a poem that I read in college and had forgotten about, but that was probably bouncing around somewhere in my mind when I wrote the stuff about a project dominated by men as boys.
By WH Auden
It’s natural the Boys should whoop it up for
so huge a phallic triumph, an adventure
it would not have occurred to women
to think worth while, made possible only
because we like huddling in gangs and knowing
the exact time: yes, our sex may in fairness
hurrah the deed, although the motives
that primed it were somewhat less than menschlich.
A grand gesture. But what does it period?
What does it osse? We were always adroiter
with objects than lives, and more facile
at courage than kindness: from the moment
the first flint was flaked this landing was merely
a matter of time. But our selves, like Adam’s,
still don’t fit us exactly, modern
only in this—our lack of decorum.
Homer’s heroes were certainly no braver
than our Trio, but more fortunate: Hector
was excused the insult of having
his valour covered by television.
Worth going to see? I can well believe it.
Worth seeing? Mneh! I once rode through a desert
and was not charmed: give me a watered
lively garden, remote from blatherers
about the New, the von Brauns and their ilk, where
on August mornings I can count the morning
glories where to die has a meaning,
and no engine can shift my perspective.
Unsmudged, thank God, my Moon still queens the Heavens
as She ebbs and fulls, a Presence to glop at,
Her Old Man, made of grit not protein,
still visits my Austrian several
with His old detachment, and the old warnings
still have power to scare me: Hybris comes to
an ugly finish, Irreverence
is a greater oaf than Superstition.
Our apparatniks will continue making
the usual squalid mess called History:
all we can pray for is that artists,
chefs and saints may still appear to blithe it.