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September 6, 2022

A Re-enactment of the Sexual Harassment That Flight Attendants Regularly Experienced in the 1970s

These vintage images are extracted from the book Sex Objects in the Sky: A Personal Account of the Stewardess Rebellion (1974) by Paula Kane. In the book, she imagines what a male passenger is thinking: “What is that pretty young stewardess thinking as she walks gracefully down the aisle to give you your third drink? Is she anxious to “Make You Feel Good All Over,” as much of the airlines’ advertising says? Or is she perhaps musing about last night’s orgy, as films such as The Swinging Stewardesses and Come Fly with Me would suggest?”

Kane explains that,“if she is a stewardess who has been flying for some time, the chances are very good she is only hoping that you won’t make a pass at her or get drunk or make a scene.”

Paula Kane has much more in common with the average stewardess than the fictionalized fluffy young things in Coffee, Tea, or Me. She flew five years for American Airlines, and during that time she and her friends certainly did see the world. But they also found out what it’s really like to live the life of a sex object... the submissive young girl serving businessmen and politely taking their verbal and physical abuse.

Paula rebelled inwardly at first, bottling up her anger. Then, with the help of the Stewardesses for Women’s Rights organization, and an investigative reporter, she tracked down the roots of her dissatisfaction with the airline business and her own submissive attitude toward it. For example, she learned that the airlines have consistently ignored health and safety hazards, including radiation dangers, in their attempts to maximize profits, and have systematically passed over heroism while blatantly awarding sex appeal. In fact, it was only recently that the airlines allowed stewardesses to marry or have children. Paula decided to fight. The result is her book, Sex Objects in the Sky: A Personal Account of the Stewardess Rebellion.

(via Flashbak)


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