Alexa Petersen | Jeminist: A Jumbo Feminist
My girl Amelia
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 08:10
This column is about how Amelia Earhart was the coolest woman on the planet. She was the first woman aviator to ride solo across the Atlantic Ocean, a best-selling author, a visiting faculty member at Purdue University and, most importantly, she is my spirit woman. A spirit woman is the apple of your eye. The champion of your days. The hero of your heart. I can say with a relative amount of confidence that I am Amelia Earheart’s biggest fan — and she is my spirit woman. In terms of risk-taking women, she’s got Catwoman, Nancy Pelosi and Meryl Streep — do not deny this woman’s awesomeness — beat by multitudes. Angela Merkel at a fair but distant second.
Earhart has a pretty impressive resume. After a number of dangerous and recordbreaking flights, she undertook a record-setting solo trip across the Atlantic in 1932. As the first woman to successfully complete this trip, she was catapulted to national fame. She wrote a number of books, launched an educational lecture series and became somewhat of an aviation celebrity. Through her visibility, she vehemently promoted emerging women’s careers and women in aviation, both through her academic and professional aviation careers. Her style of dress and appearance was distinctly androgynous, helping her become well known as a gender-ambiguous and feminist celebrity. Over a half-century after her death, some feminist authors praised her for being a beacon of gender-bending visibility. Both her activism and unwillingness to conform to gender stereotypes of occupation and appearance are admirable and really quite unique for her era.
Much to America’s — and my — dismay, Earhart’s impressive career and life came to an end on an attempt to fly solo around the world. Her flight lost communication with ground control, and her landing place has since remained a mystery. Reports, documentaries and many Hollywood dramas have documented where they believe Amelia Earhart landed and how she died. There is a rather strange theory among that bunch that states that Earhart made her way back to America, moved to New Jersey and changed her name to Irene Craigmile Bolam. My girl Irene sued the pants off the guy that accused her of this.
While Amelia Earhart is my spirit woman, she’s more than just my spirit woman. I’m pretty sure that our lives are cosmically connected. Here are some non-trivial examples. A completely innocuous yet interesting fact about Amelia Earhart is that she had some serious sinus issues. I get a lot of sinus infections. It’s fate. Furthermore, I did a project on her in second grade, on which I received an A+. That could be nothing short of divine connection. We both have names that start with A, and I once told my camp friends that my mother named me after Amelia Earhart. This is totally believable, as I know my mother is super into this spirit woman idea — I’m pretty sure hers is Whoopi Goldberg. And, drum-roll for the big finish: Amelia Earhart lived for a short time in Medford. I live in Medford.
All I’m trying to say is that this woman does not receive enough acclaim for how fantastic she was. We take for granted the risks she took — flying solo, speaking out, carving a place for herself in her profession. My girl took risks. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, right? Throw caution to the wind, throw Mitt Romney’s dog on the roof and take a risk. Try not to crash somewhere in the Pacific, but that is less important. Our world is better and more fruitful because Amelia Earhart took the risks that she took. And Amelia — or Irene — wherever you are, thank you for being the most fantastic risk-taking, gravity-defying spirit woman I could ever ask for.
Alexa Petersen is a senior majoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She can be reached at Alexa.Petersen@tufts.edu.