23.3 C
Κυριακή, 26 Μαΐου, 2024
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionWang Yaping: Woman, mother, employee and... astronaut

Wang Yaping: Woman, mother, employee and… astronaut

By Katerina Papadea,

Wang Yaping has been a pilot in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force since 1997, having made countless trips and amassed 1,600 flight hours. Her achievements are by no means unknown, as she is a personality whose love for space is enormous, which does not prevent her from sacrificing her own life, as she has characteristically stated. Now, the Chinese Air Force pilot is preparing to become the first Chinese woman to travel in space and get out of Earth’s orbit.

More specifically, Wang Yaping has been a reserve in the 2012 mission, which transported the first, also Chinese, woman pilot into space, Liu Yang, with a stay of 20 days. At the same time, in 2013, in the presence of 60 million students, she conducted a course in space physics, to inspire people. In the recent past, in 2020, Wang Yaping was the only woman selected to staff the 18-member team of astronauts for missions to Tiangong, or Heavenly Place, and was among the top 10 women selected for the astronaut training program in China. Today, she is ready to make her second orbital trip and was to be the first woman to walk in space.

However, this impressive event is brought to the ground by factors, such as the period and the issue of custody of the child, making this landing irregular. It is not surprising, of course, that only she, among her two male colleagues, wondered about her child. After all, as mentioned, it is also a matter of different physiology, as most girls and women tend to be unable to work hard and as, unlike men, women do not have short hair, which makes it easier for them to wash. The above reasons, though reasonable, do not make the achievement over the second Chinese woman who will travel in space and the first one who will go twice, Wang Yaping, less important and impressive, while they make the indirect projection of racial discrimination and degradation of the female sex.

From left to right: Taikonauts Ye Guangfu, Zhai Zhigang, and Wang Yaping, 2021. Credits to: Xinhua. Image source: https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1008703/china-to-send-first-female-taikonaut-to-its-space-station-

The logic: “What does it matter if you are a female astronaut? You have to play a traditional female role” and other related comments, that fall into gender-based violence, make their appearance when women managed to overcome difficulties and obstacles that deprived them of achievement. Only then is the achievement examined and treated in the light of gender. The whole uproar over the issue of grooming, menstruation, appearance, and makeup comes to overshadow the achievement over the Chinese pilot as if a woman does not groom her face or paint, she is not considered as a woman, and she cannot live.

However, such comments and upheaval on this issue should not impress in a country, whose ruling political party includes only one woman out of 24 men, and, in which, professional success and publicity, equivalent to that received by the Wang Yaping, are a rare occurrence for Chinese women.

Therefore, we see that in a country where women face sexism, patronage, and devaluation in politics, business, and science, that is, in a huge range of their lives, Wang Yaping is among the women who give hope for equality and a better future, where no woman is in danger of not being hired or fired because of her appearance or because of pregnancy. As she has mentioned in an interview, although her gender was the biggest obstacle in her way, she still hopes and believes that space missions will be better thanks to her. So, at a time when social movement and non-governmental organizations are growing rapidly in defense of women, every woman should get Wang Yaping out of her, believe in herself, and demand equal treatment with her abilities a note here gender, as has always been the case in the male population. Because, just as women are mothers, so men are fathers, with the same obligations to their children, even if they are astronauts.

  • She Is Breaking Glass Ceilings in Space, but Facing Sexism on Earth, nytimes, Available here
  • China’s new space station gets its first female astronaut, CNN, Available here


Katerina Papadea
Katerina Papadea
She is an Undergraduate student in the department of International and European Studies at the University of Piraeus. She speaks English and German. She likes to deal with the news and to be informed in many ways in order to form her own point of view. News keeps you awake and does not let you focus on theory but practices every situation and every definition. She likes foreign languages, and she believes learning them broadens the way of thinking and helps us understand the world, through different political, economic and social conditions. Her favourite music is old Rocks from 80’s - 90’s.