Thursday, June 16, 2011

A tale of two airline incidents: (1) women who show too much breast vs. (2) young man who shows boxer shorts. Can you guess which one gets an apology, and which one gets arrested?

INCIDENT NUMBER ONE: In 2007, Southwest Airlines found itself in the center of a feminist brouhaha when it told two women passengers that their outfits were inappropriate to fly. One of the woman at the eye of the storm, Kyla Ebbert, "offered to pull the top of her sweater over her breasts and pull her skirt down as far as possible. A compromise that was finally agreed upon." But the issue wouldn't go away and the Sisterhood took up her cause.

Well, we all know what happened: "Southwest Airlines Co. says it is apologizing to a young California woman who was told her outfit was too skimpy to fly, and it's using the brouhaha as a marketing ploy — announcing a 'miniskirt fare sale.'"

Chief Executive Gary Kelly "declined to give his opinion of [the young woman's] outfit, and said the airline needs to 'lean towards the customer.'" Kelly said: 'We don't have a dress code at Southwest Airlines, and we don't want to put our employees in the position of being the fashion police,' he said, 'but there's a fine line you walk sometimes in not offending other passengers.'"

In order words, her breasts were showing and we don't like it, but, hey, we lost the public relations battle on this one.

Now to be certain we're all on the same page, Ms. Ebbert's breasts were exposed.

INCIDENT NUMBER TWO: Fast forward to this week. New Mexico safety Deshon Marman was at San Francisco International Airport.  Before he boarded Flight 488 bound for Albuquerque, an airline employee complained that Marman's pants "were below his buttocks but above the knees, and that much of his boxer shorts were exposed."  The employee asked Marman to pull up his pants before he boarded the plane, but he refused.  Marman allegedly repeated his refusal after taking his seat on the plane.

Marman was asked to leave the plane.  And he was arrested for trespassing.

See here.

Now, please understand, I think the "underwear" look is idiotic and a barometer of a culture in free-fall. But if that's offensive, so is exposing breasts on a airplane.  But there won't be any fallout from this reprimand because he's a guy and nobody will go to his defense. Truth be told, if it weren't for the double standard, I wouldn't go to his defense.

Nothing new here. Remember in 2009 when Britain's most popular theme park banned men from wearing the dreaded Speedos because they are not deemed "public or family friendly."  One female features writer applauded the move: "The tight-fitting trunks are, apparently, 'not public- or family-friendly'. Hear, hear. Let's be honest: no man, of any age, in any state of repair, looks good in Speedos, not even a ginger George Clooney."

Imagine if a male writer deigned to applaud Southwest's move telling the woman to cover up -- because he didn't want to see women dress that way. What do you think would happen to him? He'd be fired, that's what would happen. The Sisterhood would demand his testicles on a silver platter.