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The Mercury 13 Paper

The Mercury 13 Paper - The Mercury 13 The Mercury 13...

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The Mercury 13 The Mercury 13 , written by Martha Ackmann, is a story about women’s struggles to become astronauts. Many healthy women endured secret testing given by the Lovelace Foundation, which were the same tests the Mercury 7 men astronauts went through. The women gave up jobs and even marriages to pursue their dreams of one day flying into space. Although many of these women scored better on the tests than did the men, the women’s dreams were crushed by the norms of society. American society saw women as housewives and homemakers, but not astronauts. None of the Mercury 13 women ever flew to space, but they did accomplish other feats in life. The United States did not end up beating the Soviet Union in the space race, but the Mercury 13 women put forth extraordinary effort to push the space program to where it is today. Ackmann tells about the stereotypes and hardships these women went through, while including some of her own bias. The stereotypes of women wanting to “stay home, tied to the kitchen” (146) made all of Mercury 13, especially Jerri Cobb, feel as if she not only had to land a successful flight, but “she had to worry about her appearance as well” (Ackmann 4). When Cobb was preparing to make a record-breaking flight, she knew when she stepped out of the cockpit “everyone expected women pilots to look like fashion models” (4). Cobb even borrowed a small mirror from a bystander so she would be able to retouch her makeup before she stepped out of the Aero Commander. For a pilot who had been “making the headlines for years” (6), a pilot who wanted to go “higher, faster, and farther” (6), and a pilot who seemed “to be taking records away from the Russians” (7), it is surprising the
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