ONTD Political

Woman Misses Flight Because of Pro-Choice Shirt

7:03 pm - 05/23/2012
Yesterday I attended a meeting of pro-choice colleagues working to ensure women throughout this country get safe, compassionate abortion care. Today, I received an email from one of those colleagues, detailing the ordeal through which she was put by American Airlines on her flights home. They actually forced her to miss her connecting flight and demanded she change her top. The reason? Her politically salient pro-choice t-shirt was offensive to the flight crew.

That sign said: "If I wanted the government in my womb, I'd fuck a senator."The t-shirt is the now-popularized version of a sign held by Oklahoma state senator Judy McIntyre (D) at a pro-choice rally in early March to protest Oklahoma's so-called personhood law, which in conferring the rights of a living, breathing person on a fertilized egg denies all rights of personhood of women, full stop.

At the time of the rally, and asked about the sign, State Senator McIntyre "acknowledged that some in Oklahoma, which is overwhelmingly Christian, may find her sign’s language offensive, but she wasn’t much concerned about them."

"I would hope they would have that same passion about how offensive it is for the Republican Party of Oklahoma to ramrod, because they have the votes to do so, bills that are offensive to women and take away the rights of women,” she reportedly said.

My colleague, O., of the same mind of many of us in believing that sign says it all, wore a t-shirt with the same message under her shawl and boarded an American Airlines flight home from our meeting.

So what happened? O. writes:

[O]n the plane of the first leg of my flight home, I spent the majority of [time] sleeping, using my shawl as a blanket. Right before we were set to land the flight attendant from first class approaches me and asks if I had a connecting flight? We were running a bit behind schedule, so I figured I was being asked this to be sure I would make my connecting flight. She then proceeded to tell me that I needed to speak with the captain before disembarking the plane and that the shirt I was wearing was offensive.

The shirt was gray with the wording, "If I wanted the government in my womb, I'd fuck a senator." I must also mention that when I boarded the plane, I was one of the first groups to board (did not pass by many folks). I was wearing my shawl just loosely around my neck and upon sitting down in my seat the lady next to me, who was already seated, praised me for wearing the shirt.

When I was leaving the plane the captain stepped off with me and told me I should not have been allowed to board the plane in DC and needed to change before boarding my next flight. This conversation led to me missing my connecting flight. I assumed that because I was held up by the captain, they would have called ahead to let the connecting flight know I was in route. Well, upon my hastened arrival at the gate of the connecting flight, it was discovered that they did indeed call ahead but not to hold the flight, only to tell them I needed to change my shirt. I was given a seat on the next flight and told to change shirts.

Due to the fact that my luggage was checked, changing shirts without spending money wasn't an option. I consulted a friend with a law background who told me covering with my shawl would suffice. Upon boarding the now rescheduled flight with shawl covering my shirt, my ticket dinged invalid. I was pulled to the side while the gentleman entered some codes into the computer and then told, "it was all good." I did finally arrive home to pick up my daughter an hour and a half later than scheduled.

So let's review some facts. O. went through security and was stopped for additional screening, but not deemed a "security risk," and no one at TSA made the slightest mention of her t-shirt. She boarded her first flight, and none of the airline personnel at the gate mentioned her t-shirt. She quietly took her seat, wrapped her shawl around herself, and went to sleep.

When her plane landed the flight attendant confronted her and said she had to speak to the captain. At no point did anyone say quietly, hey... could you keep that covered with your shawl? Could you turn it inside out? We have a policy....

Instead, after the plane landed the flight attendant brought her up front where the captain berated her publicly and made her miss her connecting flight. It turns out when she asked if anyone had complained the answer was: NO, Only the flight attendant!

The captain and flight attendant took it upon themselves to call ahead to the next gate and make them keep her off the next flight, causing her to miss it. Two American Airlines employees decided *after the fact* to make an issue of this of their own accord and, instead of asking discreetly if she could cover her shirt or turn it inside out, she was humiliated in front of other passengers by a captain out of control. Yes, in some way this obviously has to do with profanity, but where does that stop? Is she allowed to walk into Target? Is she allowed to go to CVS? She was allowed to walk through the airport... If we women all over this country are being fucked over, and we can't say that, where does that end?

No.. In this country, you see, fundamentalist right-wing male legislators in every state can take away your rights. They can deny you access to contraception, breast exams, Pap smears, and other primary preventive care. They can deny you access to safe emergency contraception and safe medication abortion. They can force any woman in need of a safe abortion to listen to lies about outcomes of the procedure long disproven by medical science and public health professionals. They can mandate that you to listen to religious dogma at crisis pregnancy centers, force you to look at an ultrasound or hear a heartbeat, make you wait 24-, 36-, 72-hours before you can get a safe, legal abortion, just because they feel like it, and just because they feel like it, they can raise the costs of that abortion -- in terms of travel, childcare, medical expenses and time -- to really shame you good. Moreover, they feel empowered to coerce you into procedures like trans-vaginal ultrasounds, which I maintain is a form of state-sponsored rape.

But protest these laws and the War on Women with a t-shirt that gets right to the point? Let people know the basis of all of it, the people that "want government out of our lives" want to place it directly into our bodies? In a country supposedly founded on freedom of speech and expression, in which protestors can stand outside clinics harassing and threatening women and doctors, and run through every public square with gory doctored photos? A country in which other protestors can stand outside the funerals of gay soldiers killed in duty and scream disgusting insults, and still have their rights protected?

Oh, no. You can't do that. You can't take that message that your body is your own anywhere. Because in the United States today, that is like taking your burqha off under the Taliban. That is "offensive," "insulting" and "not for public consumption."

At least according to American Airlines, which apparently has not heard the term freedom of expression.

Let's be clear: This is a woman who was not a security risk -- she got through the gauntlet of DC airport security, which I assure everyone is easily the most rigorous of any in the country -- and obviously was not considered a "risk" of any kind, because... she was not. She boarded her plane without incident and went to sleep. It was at the end of her flight that the flight crew decided she should not be able to board the next flight because her t-shirt was offensive. How is it okay for American Airlines to decide what she can wear on her t-shirt or not? I have been on flights with men wearing tatoos that demean women, and t-shirts that advocate violence against women, that demean women, that treat Obama with racist derision... What someone wears on their body is their business. Whether or not you would wear that t-shirt is not the point. It is not for American Airlines to decide what is politically okay or not.

In March, State Senator Judy Mcintyre told the Huffington Post:

"I was so excited about the fact that the women in Oklahoma have finally begun to wake up and fight for their rights. I saw a sea of signs that caught my eye, but this one in particular -- I loved its offensive language, because it's just as offensive for Republicans of Oklahoma to do what they're doing as it relates to women's bodies. I don't apologize for it."

We don't apologize for fighting for the freedom of women. We don't apologize for taking that war into streets, on sidewalks, into legislatures, into airplanes. We don't apologize for protecting our rights and our bodies and those of every woman in this country.

While there are plenty of people in power right now that owe women of the United States an apology, American Airlines owes a huge -- and public-- apology to O.

Tell them so.


I can't even begin to express how angry this makes me. I wonder if American Airlines will make a public statement about it.
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kaelstra 23rd-May-2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
I bet they're going to hide behind the language on the shirt as their reasoning.
crossfire 24th-May-2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
All you have to do is look down one comment to see people doing it for them.
maynardsong 24th-May-2012 01:51 am (UTC)
jean_prouvaire 23rd-May-2012 11:36 pm (UTC)

There needs to be a huge fucking public outcry and a serious apology from American Airlines. And you just know they're going to try to claim it was just about the word "fuck" being on the shirt, so that they can keep all of the new anti-choice business this is going to generate while not driving away people who will rightfully want to boycott them. They cannot be allowed to weasel out of it like that.
zemi_chan 23rd-May-2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
Sue them.
tabaqui 23rd-May-2012 11:40 pm (UTC)
Wow, fuck these people very much. 'Offensive' to whom? I'd be willing to bet real money that plenty of dudebros get on flights with 'offensive' slogans on t-shirts.
emofordino 23rd-May-2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
absolutely! the first time i flew in a plane, i was a couple seats away from a guy whose shirt said "hi, you'll do." on it. obviously not vulgar, but still pretty disgusting. i'm curious to see if a shirt saying like, "fuck planned parenthood" or something similiar would have caused a similar uproar or not. this whole situation is gross as hell.
oudeteron 23rd-May-2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
I see they're being thoroughly professional about the paid-for services they offer. /sarcasm

And yeah, whoever complained about this sounds just like someone who would let anti-choice scumbags slide by comparison, even though their propagandistic tripe is full of graphic photos and hate-speech.

I just cannot fathom how it can be "offensive" to anyone to express the sentiment that people, women included, own their own goddamn bodies. And I don't buy the "omg it was ~foul language!!1" reasoning for a moment here.
winniechili 23rd-May-2012 11:46 pm (UTC)
I don't think shirts with obscenities are appropriate in public. *shrug*
mirhanda 24th-May-2012 12:10 am (UTC)

I hope someone will test this by wearing a vehemently pro-choice shirt with no obscenities on it.
i_m_b00 23rd-May-2012 11:57 pm (UTC)

Wow! this is a new level of fuckery.

Im not a lawyer by any stretch but i don't see how they can have an 'after the fact' dress code. If they have a dress code they need insure that information is disseminated before you leave your home. They can't simply demand that you buy an over priced air port tee shirt.

Seeing that this information was not made available they made this BS up on the fly because it's okay to force women to act like some antiquated idea of what 'ladies' should act like.

fickery 24th-May-2012 12:01 am (UTC)
This is infuriating. Normally I just sign Change.org petitions without leaving a comment, but this time I wrote a long and very angry one.
kaowolfie 24th-May-2012 12:02 am (UTC)
I have a really hard time buying the idea that they got pissed off at her t-shirt for having a profanity on it, because they're not exactly stopping to harrass men who wear offensive slogans. Even if AA has a rule about profanity on clothing, as some folks are positing they may, if it is not uniformly applied, then they're still going after O. because she wore a pro-choice slogan.

I'd be willing to bet money that if the shirt had said "sleep with" instead of fuck, the captain and flight attendant would've still caused that scene and made her miss her flight. The issue is not a single word, it's the message that word was a part of, and it's part of a war on women where the only permitted speech is anti-choice, anti-woman fuckery.
carmy_w 24th-May-2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
...Or even if it said F*** instead of fuck. Bet they'd have still had a problem with it.
endlos_schleife 24th-May-2012 12:10 am (UTC)
"Because in the United States today, that is like taking your burqha off under the Taliban."

Uhm no.

Other than that: what the hell? I will never understand how they got away hiding their intend by saying that the t-shirt was inappropriate because of profanity. Okay, so what? It's just a word, in no way does it make sense to publicly humiliate someone for it. Not to mention that there were clearly other intentions involved here.
toraguru 24th-May-2012 12:21 am (UTC)
I saw a guy on a plane with the message on his shirt: swallow or it's going in your eye.
nicosian 24th-May-2012 12:40 am (UTC)
that's ghastly. Ick. upside to doooods who wear that sort of shirt? Its like a wee flag announcing their intention before they get within speaking range of you. Its almost like a public service announcement.
nicosian 24th-May-2012 12:39 am (UTC)
I know airlines claim to have "dress codes" but never in my travels has it ever been enforced, even when there were moments it should have been.

I don't buy the "it was the language!" vibe, either. It was the message. If it bothered flight crew that badly, they could have easily obtained a t shirt for her if it was their demand she change.

I've seen guys wear stuff that was downright ghastly on flights, full of misogyny,violence and drug reference, and that gets a pass.

There were an infinite number of solutions at hand. Put some tape over the offending word, she gets her message, they get the word obscured. ( oh, what am I saying, people using brains at airports? Its why i QUIT WORKING AT ONE. No brains. no thinking. No logics.)

ladycallie 24th-May-2012 12:46 am (UTC)
Well fuck me. American has been my preferred airline because they have less LGBT issues then Southwest. AA has a huge float in the Dallas Gay Pride every year.

This is repulsive. I'm flying next week, and damn if I'm not tempted to wear one of my opinionated shirts.
nyxelestia 25th-May-2012 01:38 am (UTC)
I think the airlines as a whole generally don't care either way, which means a.) supporting LGBT gets us more customers? OK!, but also b.) they don't really do anything about homophobic individuals "on the ground" (er, not on the ground, as the current case may be?), either.
ms_maree 24th-May-2012 01:05 am (UTC)
I remember someone else was kicked off an airline for anti-Bush tshirt, but I can't recall if it was because of an obscenity. So it's not without precedence.
shukivengeance 24th-May-2012 01:36 am (UTC)
Anyone else want one of those shirts?
nepthys_12 24th-May-2012 01:44 am (UTC)
So they couldn't have let just turn the shirt inside out. Or they could have gotten some duct tape or something to put over it. The fact they berated her in public over it, tells me they took issue with more than just word fuck. If they are going to bug people about their attire, they may as well have dress code and call it a fucking day.
apostle_of_eris 24th-May-2012 02:25 am (UTC)
Personally, I think "online petitions" are a waste of electrons, but I will send a real, paper sail mail letter to the president of American Airlines . . .
bmh4d0k3n 24th-May-2012 02:34 am (UTC)
Wtf, and she was already on the plane. That's the/a part that gets me. She wasn't even not allowed to board.
roseofjuly 26th-May-2012 05:42 am (UTC)
She was already on the plane and had already completed the flight, and was going to switch to a connecting flight, which raises all my bullshit flags.
wicked_g 24th-May-2012 02:42 am (UTC)
If this has to do with company policy, wouldn't the people at the check in counter have noticed and maybe said something? I know that some people are uncomfortable with profanity on t-shirts, and if it turns out to just be the steward who had a problem with the message-no wait. Hang on.

Company policy against profanity = ok, fine, but shitty timing and douchey actions
Steward offended by profanity = pretty much the same as above
Steward offended by political statement = grounds for some sort of suit, right?
effervescent 24th-May-2012 02:43 am (UTC)
Wtf is up with the burqha reference? Is that really necessary? (No.)

The only way this is reasonable is if there's a policy regarding obscenities, though you'd think that they would have, you know, taken the time to explain to her what part of the slogan was offensive. And held the next flight for her, too.
angry_chick 24th-May-2012 03:22 am (UTC)
I shudder to think about if I wore my 'Fuck Cancer' shirt.
nikoel 24th-May-2012 03:52 am (UTC)
My guess is not. Who doesn't hate cancer?
lizzy_someone 24th-May-2012 03:52 am (UTC)
Even if, for the sake of argument, this was due only to the word "fuck" and not to the political message, it is kind of astounding to me how automatically people will condemn anything with profanity in it while not complaining over wildly offensive shit as long as it doesn't have swearing. I truly do not understand what is so terrible about the word "fuck." It is just a syllable that sometimes means "have sex with" and often means nothing in particular.
ms_maree 24th-May-2012 03:55 am (UTC)
You might not understand, but a lot of people (myself included) were brought up to see the word as offensive and to have our mouth washed out if we use it etc. (or castor oil, did anyone have to have castor oil as punishment for cursing? ugh).

And while objectively, I cannot see anything wrong with the word, I still flinch when it's used because it's been ingrained in me as a taboo word. It's just a cultural thing for many people.
kira_snugz 24th-May-2012 05:18 am (UTC)
fucking bullshit
mornings 24th-May-2012 06:55 am (UTC)
I personally don't like people wearing clothing/things with obscenities in public, but simply because of the fact that I think children shouldn't be exposed to that kind of language. *shrug* Just in the same way that I wouldn't swear if there's a child next to me.

But seriously, what a douchewaffle way to handle the situation! She was already ON BOARD, for fuck's sakes. And making her miss her connecting flight? That's just... flhksfhj aargh. Would it have been so damned hard to politely ask her to, idk, turn the shirt inside out for the duration of the flight?
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