‘Blast-off can’t be timed around a period’: MALE cosmonaut in hot water as he explains why fewer Russian FEMALES make it in space
A Russian cosmonaut has stepped on the thin ice of gender politics, suggesting that space exploration is too manly a business and can’t depend on women’s menstrual cycles, or on their mundane way of thinking.
Sergey Ryazansky, who has endured more than 304 days in space on board a tiny, crammed International Space Station (ISS) module, landed himself in hot water in a comfort of a studio, during a talk show hosted by Sophie Shevardnadze.
Their sit-down, quite deferential at first, became increasingly tense when Shevardnadze, who is also an RT anchor, wondered about the overwhelming 50-4 ratio between American and Soviet/Russian female spacefarers.
“What sexism!” she added. That’s when Ryazansky put his foot into it. The cosmonaut recalled a recent conversation with a NASA colleague in charge of hiring future astronauts who told him: “I have a quota for boys and girls, whites and blacks, I have a quota for [people] of other colors. But, Sergey, why don’t I have a quota for smart astronauts?”
“And I was like, it’s not at all bad here in Russia – we have unified requirements... ” Ryazansky continued until Shevardnadze fired back: “Do you mean women don’t pass the threshold because they aren’t that smart?”
Ryazansky pulled back but then produced another gaffe.
These requirements are men-centric. Boys have a primitive physiology, we have stable hormone levels ... No one is going to tailor a rocket launch, a spacewalk or an emergency to women’s cycles.
And he didn’t stop there. Women don’t apply for space missions because they are “rational,” he went on: “Boys keep their tails up, they seek adventure and feats and so on. Girls are more mundane, [looking for] family, kids and stability.”
The bizarre outbursts reflect “the prejudice that’s rooted in our country,” Elena Serova, the first and only Russian female cosmonaut to complete an ISS mission, commented. “I joined the cosmonaut squad when I had a little child,” she told Russian media, pointing out that women are more resilient against G-forces and stress.
Men’s hormone levels can be so unstable that “they don’t realize why they’re doing some sort of things, with due respect,” she retorted. For their part, Russian twitterati bashed him for “stupidity” and labeled him “a disgrace of the day.”
Ryazansky is no stranger to blurting out oddities. Two years ago, just back from a Soyuz mission, he told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that he’d spotted some mystery “landing pad for aliens” while flying across Europe; the tabloid couldn’t immediately verify the level of seriousness in that interview.
All in all, Ryazansky’s take may not sit well with what Russian space chiefs have been saying during the last couple of years. In November, Sergey Krikalev, a decorated cosmonaut and a Roscosmos flight director, dismissed claims there is discrimination against women willing to become cosmonauts.
“There are fewer applicants among women, but those who do apply have equal chances,” he told the media.
Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin has also championed ensuring gender balance in his agency. The cohort of Russian cosmonauts “would look more robust and more efficient if there were more women in there,” he said in January.Also on rt.com 1st woman in space: 55th anniversary of Tereshkova's historic voyage
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