Apparently, free speech doesn’t apply to women who are pro-choice, at least that’s what American Airlines says.
An American Airlines captain took a female passenger to task this week for wearing a pro-choice t-shirt that says, ‘If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d fuck a senator!,’ inspired of course by the Oklahoma senator who wore a similar shirt in protest of her Republican senate colleagues support of a personhood amendment. The flight attendant brought the woman, an abortion rights activist, to the front of the plane and the captain publicly humiliated her in front of other passengers. The woman was then forced to miss her connecting flight because of the shirt.
The woman described the incident in an email to RH Reality Check:
“[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.”
American Airlines apparently has a policy stating that it can refuse to transport you, or may remove you from your flight for reasons including ‘being clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offense to other passengers.” But this t-shirt didn’t bother anyone at all. In fact, according to the woman, she was praised for wearing it. It was the male captain of the plane who had a problem with it, and he wasn’t even in a position to see the shirt considering he’s supposed to be busy flying the damn plane. Instead of simply asking the woman to turn the shirt inside out, the captain berated her for it and caused her to miss her next flight. I’ve been on American Airlines flights before and have seen offensive shirts worn by many people who weren’t stopped or harassed by airline personnel. The profanity on the shirt isn’t anything new. Millions of t-shirts have profanity. The difference between those other shirts and this one is that the others don’t have a pro-choice, pro-contraception, pro-women message.
My question is, if this were an anti-abortion t-shirt, would the captain have acted the same way? It just seems to me that American Airlines harassed this poor woman because she supports abortion rights. They impeded on her right to free speech and expression and they should be forced to issue a public apology to her. So let’s sign this petition and send a message to American Airlines that women deserve free speech too, even on airplanes.