The Thinking Housewife tries to tarnish the legacy of Sally Ride with a surreally homophobic eulogy

Sally Ride and her partner Tam O’Shaughnessy

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, died last week, as most of you no doubt know.  On The Thinking Housewife, Laura Wood uses the occasion as an opportunity to bash lesbians, feminism, and Ride herself. Wood begins her most unusual eulogy by quoting Gloria Steinem, who once said of Ride:

“Millions of little girls are going to sit by their television sets and see they can be astronauts, heroes, explorers and scientists.”

Wood scoffs at the very notion, suggesting that

Steinem’s real point, in keeping with her intense dislike of women, was that women should want to be astronauts and there was something wrong with them if they didn’t.

So we’re off to a great start here. Wood then offers this patronizing assessment of Ride’s life – which nonetheless turns out to be the nicest thing she says about the legendary astronaut.

Ride, who had a warm, radiant smile and is said to have served ably in her two missions in space, died Monday at the age of 61.

After this bit of faint praise, Wood moves on to her main point: Ride was lesbian, and therefore a terrible person, so she’ll quickly be forgotten.

For all the fanfare that once surrounded it, Ride’s story will likely fade into history and her life ultimately inspire very few girls. This will be so not only because women do not excel at space science or the physical demands of space travel as men do but also because, as Ride’s obituary proved, she did not lead a full life. Ride was in a lesbian relationship with a childhood friend for 27 years.

Yep, apparently lesbians don’t live “full lives,” whatever that means. Are women only living “full lives” if they are filled up on at least a semi-regular basis with their husband’s penis?

Wood continues:

To her credit, Ride did not make her lesbianism public and was private about her personal life in general. Her sister and the woman with whom she had a relationship, Tam O’Shaughnessy, have released the information to the world and now Ride has the double distinction of being both the first woman and the first lesbian in space. O’Shaughnessy was Ride’s friend since the age of 12. Ride was briefly married to another astronaut, but they were divorced. So while Ride accomplished much in her career, thanks in part to the spirit of affirmative action, she seems to have never fully emerged from childhood.

Huh? Are lesbians inherently childish, or is Ride supposed to have been a perpetual “child” because she married her childhood friend?

Then Wood says one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard:

The only good reason for a normal woman to go through the grueling rigors of becoming an astronaut is that NASA is a great place to meet men. 

Sorry, but I’ve got to pull out the Don Draper gif again: What?


Wood elaborates:

Ride’s life, however, does not even offer that slim hope to little girls, that wonderful compensation for dreary days in a control cabin. Ride flew into space but never experienced other thrills that are as great or far greater. She never gave a man such necessary and life-sustaining love that he was able to do great things, such as fly into space.

So apparently the real, true purpose of becoming a female astronaut isn’t to fly into space, but to inspire the dude you’ve married to fly into space?

She never looked up at the stars with her own children and encouraged their wonder. She did not pass on her love of space to a son or daughter or grandchild.

I guess inspiring girls around the world doesn’t count? (And I can only imagine that the thought of Ride now inspiring gay children strikes Wood with dread.)

Though she performed capably in her public position as a Role Model of the Century, Sally Ride’s example will likely be the exact opposite of what NASA and Gloria Steinem predicted. She will serve as a reminder of at least some of the very good reasons why women don’t want to be astronauts.

Because becoming an astronaut might make them lesbian?

The vast majority of women would sooner love an astronaut than be one. And given that most men are destined to perform inglorious jobs for most of their lives, women will come to see that the dream of conquering space rightly belongs to men.

A lot of men do crap jobs, so therefore only men should be astronauts? I can’t even pretend to understand the logic here.

Here’s Ride’s web site, and her official obituary.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on July 29, 2012, in antifeminism, antifeminst women, crackpottery, homophobia, misogyny, patriarchy, reactionary bullshit, whaaaaa?. Bookmark the permalink. 245 Comments.

  1. The comment section over on the Spearhead is also especially over-ripe.

  2. I’m really wondering, do the MRAs have ANY idea how affirmative action works? It’s like they think we have 10 qualified guys, but we need to have a woman, so they go out and pick any woman regardless of her qualifications. And, she doesn’t have to do anything on the team. They really seem to think that.

  3. Argenti: I don’t think I’m committing that fallacy. I am arguing that TH, and those who have like views, share that sense of extreme gender essentialism, and that from that level of it they assume those who don’t share it hate women.

    It’s a case of extremely limiting blinders, and confirmation bias.

  4. Wow. I had Sally Ride for an undergrad teacher once. (yes, another overedjumacated woman who isn’t “fulfilled” here).

    Totally. She was an astronaut and had a loving partner of 27 years, but she wasn’t a Thinking Housewife! Too bad she missed out on meeting all those great NASA men. o.O.

    If thingie here did go into NASA to meet men, I have a feeling she would’ve ended up more like this.

  5. Monsieur sans Nom

    I favor affirmative action in employment rather than education. Academics should have a uniform standard that applies to everyone regardless of who they are, what group they belong to, and what their background is. That’s how it’s done in most continental european countries and AFAIC that’s how it should be done here. But people need jobs even more than they need education in this country. Since we have a capitalist economy, people need an income to pay for the necessities of life. Affirmative action in employment unfortunately is not available for a lot of minority groups, notably aspies and other people with mental illnesses(85% of people on the autistic spectrum are unemployed FYI). This is why so many black americans are unemployed: They lack the social connections to talk people into hiring them. There is a very thick glass ceiling for people in low paying and especially minimum wage jobs.

  6. Argenti Aertheri

    pecunium — I wasn’t saying you were committing a fallacy so much as this premise —

    1: Women (and men) are hardwired to like/do certain things. They find fulfillment in them, and are incomplete as human beings without them.

    Was committing the fallacy of assuming everyone wants what they want, because how you can think everyone wants the same thing, and then get all pissy that some people say they don’t…hurts me head. (Yeah, it’s definitely a confirmation bias problem, just seems like a confirmation bias problem and a fallacy rolled into one)

  7. Ah… I see, you were declaiming their fallacy. Yes, I see it now. Sorry to misunderstand you.

    And yes, it’s a fallacy, which is exacerbated by confirmation bias. Every person they think is unhappy, and isn’t doing what they think such a person ought to do “proves” the case. Those who aren’t unhappy have yet to discover that they are like that, and will later.

    So it’s also got some begging the question.

  8. Argenti Aertheri

    pecunium — glad we’re on the same page again, no big deal about the misunderstanding :)

    And agreed on the begging the question part (with note that “begging the question” might be the most misused phrase in English, so you get the Spot That Fallacy!! 2x multipler for using it properly)

    Ok brain, I’m fully aware it’s too damned hot, but “hurts me head”? Seriously?

  9. I think this is the right thread:

    The fifties were such an oddity. If you look at the films of the 30s, you see women in independent roles; with professions (across the spectrum). Then came the war, and the dislocations of the total mobilisation of the society to cope with it (in the US this was completely new; in the UK a bit less so, because of WW1).

    The desire to, “return to normalcy”, and the Red Scare combined to make “Suzy Homemaker” an ideal she hadn’t been before that.

    With the rise of TV, and TV playing up that ideal (and movies being even worse) the sense that “it was always like this” was, in a really short period of time, entrenched in the popular memo

  10. Argenti I’ve lost track of how many times I have been awarded some portion of an internet for being correct in the usage of same (jezebel had someone praising my use/definition pair).

    Yes, it’s probably about as misused at Ad hom in false assertions of fallacy, but the other misuses outnumber it.

  11. Argenti Aertheri

    “Yes, it’s probably about as misused at Ad hom in false assertions of fallacy, but the other misuses outnumber it.”

    Discussing just fallacies, yeah, ad hominem could “win” that one; I had meant in general though.

    And I think you mean that if you had a dollar for every internet you’d been given, you’d actually own the internet by now :)

  12. No. I think actual awards of internets is about half a dozen. I run with crowds which are hard to impress.

    But do have a RASFF Award, and a knighthood out of the deal too.

    Not bad for various honors.

  13. ..considering that the Venus of Willendorf as a hip to waist ratio of .7….yeah. google it.

  14. Argenti Aertheri

    MrsBennet — you’re on the wrong thread. Also, you’re just wrong in general on that one. Looks like the Venus of Willendorf measures at 1.16 (see table 1)

    pecunium — ah, oops! And having been granted entry into your royal assassins, I must biasedly say that I think the knighthood might be the greatest honor there (assuming that was what you meant that is)

  15. My apologies on both accounts. I typed in hip to waist ratio, which for it all backwards. I acknowledge my fail.

  16. ***got.

  17. @ Argenti

    That paper you linked to is kind of hilarious, given that the basic assumption is “modern people don’t find these bodies beautiful, therefore they probably weren’t meant to represent beauty”.

  18. Argenti Aertheri

    Cassandra — yeah I noticed that it was also a textbook example of ev-psych failing to make logical sense (I was really just looking for the Venus of Willendorf’s wait-to-hip ratio without having to dig for it, got lucky and found a whole series of Venuses and their WtH)

    Venuses? That should really be Venii, but why the fuck is Venus a 2nd declension noun?? Oh, it’s feminine 3rd declension (have I mentioned that 3rd declension nouns are weird?) That’d make the plural Veneres…I think I’ll stick with Venuses.

    (Goodness I do love derailing into Latin grammar don’t I?)

  19. Venii sounds right to me, actually. The, um, science on display in that paper not so much.

    Hint to anyone reading – this is a great example of why actual scientists laugh at evo-psych. Assumptions have no place in scientific analysis – if you catch yourself looking at an unfamiliar and unexplained piece of data and going “well, probably…” or “I assume”, any conclusions you draw based on that aren’t going to mean much.

  20. Argenti Aertheri

    Cassandra — yeah the actual science of that paper was pretty hilarious, they went from “people today view these archeological finds as … ” to “and thus this proves people thousands of years ago thought … ” and no, just no. Science does not work like that.

    The -us / -ii ending is second declension, and 2nd declension nouns are either masculine or neuter, hence why I had to check that. Venii doesn’t sound particularly wrong, but the idea of it as a masculine noun was all kinds of wrong. But it’s 3rd declension apparently, that pesky declension that always confuses me, and thus the plural would be Veneres. Venuses sounds less wrong than that (and honestly, I’m not sure Latin would’ve really used the plural).

    And actually, if you write a scientific paper and use the first person? Back to undergrad with you!

  21. I’m struggling to imagine how someone could submit a paper stating that they were going to assume that X was true about how people perceived things thousands of years ago because it’s true now and not get it handed back to them with NO written across it in red pen even as an undergrad.

  22. Argenti Aertheri

    That’s a really good question, particularly since that probably isn’t an undergrad paper (those don’t generally get published). My only guess is that it wasn’t flat rejected because whether those are even Venuses is a Big Question — guessing that they must be is really no better than guessing that they aren’t, but that’s still no excuse for using “because people now think” as logic for why they weren’t attractive when they were made.

    And art wise, the narrower you try to make something, the more likely it is to just shatter — might be irrelevant, but I get annoyed when art theories fail to account for art methods.

  23. My personal hunch about the Venus figurines is that they’re probably more religious artifacts than ancient porn, but I acknowledge that assuming that your hunch must be correct leads to assdata, so a hunch is all it is. Also I’m curious why there’s at least one there that really clearly does not date from a period even close to the rest of them.

    But yeah, that paper has to have come from at least a grad student, which is sad. Then again, do you expect academic rigor from evopsych?

  24. Argenti Aertheri

    Cassandra — if you mean the Roman looking one, that’s their modern “control” (some control, I know).

    “Then again, do you expect academic rigor from evopsych?”

    Yes, the lack of it is why I will taunt them until they get some, they did the same psych undergrad courses I did, they know better.

    And as for taunting, it’s time for silliness I think —

  25. Their control is one Roman-style statuette? LOL.

  26. The plural of second-declension -us is -i not -ii. In e.g. radii the first i is part of the root.

    It’s obvious that the Venus of Willendorf was made by horny cavemen with body inflation fetish. The only reason it isn’t widely recognized is that most people haven’t been to deviantART to learn that the fetish exists.

  27. Argenti Aertheri

    “The plural of second-declension -us is -i not -ii. In e.g. radii the first i is part of the root.”

    It should be radiii in some sense, since English lacks a long i — I tend to use -ii as -ī. But technically, yes, -us -> -ī. Venus is 3rd though. I’d be all for adopting the long i in English, but as it stands, that’s Not A Thing.

    Thanks for playing on the Venus of Willendorf, didn’t Cassandra and I make it clear that guessing is, well, just a guess?

  28. I was so eager to correct you on the -ii thing, seen in such pseudo-learned forms as *virii and *penii, that I misunderstood that you were transcribing a long vowel. Are you allowed to do that with Latin, though? The Internet will probably be disappointed to learn this, but Latin is not Japanese.

  29. Argenti Aertheri

    Am I allowed to do what? It’s a long i in Latin, idk if using the Latin spelling is valid English or not, but it’s valid Latin. Or you mean the -ii? Idk, I picked it up from Japanese XD

  30. scrapemind: It’s obvious that the Venus of Willendorf was made by horny cavemen with body inflation fetish.

    Yes, dear. Now please be quiet, the grownups are trying to have a conversation.

    To be less flip, internet diagnoses are fruitless, but to make a statement about the intent of the maker of an object for which we have zero cultural context for is silly to the point of stupid.

    It’s like finding a pot with salmon bones in it, well inland, and saying, “they ate fish on Tuesdays as a ritual observance of the rising waters of the Black Sea pushing them out of their ancestral valley homeland”.

  31. pretty sure scrapemind was being sarcastic there, dude

  32. Ah… sorry. The problem is, of course, that it’s hard to tell when someone is being over the top; poes being what they are.

    If so, I apologise.

  33. Nonthinking Housewife reminds me of the poet scrap by an anonymous old feminist;

    “Breathes there a woman/ with soul so dead/ she actually enjoys/ cleaning the head.”*

    *”in other words, the “bathroom” for the US/ the “water closet” for the UK.”

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