I snagged the Special Double Issue of this week’s New York Magazine from my gift bag at the GenArt Fashion Show #WIN (the rest got left; let’s not get into puns about being weighed down at fashion week after parties #notactuallyfunny). In it, the Encyclopedia of 9/11. F is for (among other things) Flight Attendants. Subtitle: “The heroes of the day weren’t all men.” The piece ends:
“As Susan Faludi argued in her book The Terror Dream, the nation, frightened, grabbed at traditional gender roles in the wake of the attack. Our symbols of 9/11 courage were manly ones: New York Firefighters, Rudy Giuliani, the soldiers dispatched to crush the Taliban. The steely presence of mind of the mostly female flight attendants was largely left out of the hero narrative.”
I reflected on two things of note: first, the overall reactionary response, social and political, that defined the past decade, a component of which might be articulated with this quote. Second, the idea of the “hero” being tied to masculinity. I’m sure something can be said of the fact that flight attendants are overwhelmingly women, and perhaps this played a role in them being somewhat overlooked in the mainstream “hero narrative.” Certainly, there are many women firefighters and soldiers, who might have been overlooked by those making the case that female heros (see, I have to say female hero) have been overlooked; or, they’ve had masculine notions imposed upon them because their job has traditionally been one dominated by men. Like most jobs. (…)
I haven’t read Falundi’s book, but I’m intrigued.
I appreciated the bit of intelligent remembrance and analysis of the past decade that I heard, but the facebook statuses I was exposed to were a bit disheartening. Yes, remember 9/11. Also remember the CIA support of islamic radicals in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, the bureaucracy of intelligence agencies, the lack of White House policy toward Afghanistan in what later proved to be a very critical period of history, those imprisoned without charge or trial within the last decade, Islamophobia, and environmental activists prosecuted under “terrorism enhancement.” It’s nice to hope our generation is less unconscious than the previous ones, but better to actively work against selective memory. As part of the generation that came of age during this past decade, I was left asking, we’ve had 10 years to wake up: have we?