Woman Removed From American Airlines Flight For Wearing Pro-Choice T-Shirt

An unidentified reproductive rights activist was forced off her American Airlines flight because her pro-choice T-shirt was “offensive” to the crew.

What did this shirt say? It was the slogan popularized by Oklahoma State Senator Judy McIntyre earlier this year on a famous sign: “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d fuck a senator.” As described by colleague Jodi Jacobson on the blog Reproductive Health Reality Check, the woman, identified as “O.”, passed security and boarded the plane wearing the T-shirt. But during the flight, a flight attendant came by and asked if she had a connecting flight. O. said yes, assuming there was some problem with the schedule. Then the flight attendant told her O. needed to speak with the captain because her shirt was “offensive.”

Upon disembarking the plane, the captain told O. she never should have been allowed to board the flight in the first place and she needed to change shirts in order to get on the connecting flight. Of course, she refused — in part because her luggage containing her clothes was already checked — and missed the connecting flight. She consulted with a lawyer friend, who suggested covering the shirt with a shawl, which she did, and was eventually given a seat later in the day on another flight.

Surprise, surprise, she and her “offensive” T-shirt flew home on that flight in peace. No one fainted mid-air. No one died. The plane didn’t crash.  

I can’t believe this. I mean, I can, but I can’t believe this. Is this the kind of country we live in now, where a freakin’ airplane captain gets to dictate the political statements on your T-shirts? I’m assuming someone on the American Airlines flight staff (remember, she made it through security without being told her shirt was a problem) was zeroing in on the use of the word “fuck,” but went after her because of the pro-choice sentiment. I mean, if her shirt had said “Fuck yeah, pancakes!”, I doubt there would have been such a fuss. O. would have been written off as “that goofy lady in the R-rated pancakes T-shirt.” And I bet if she was wearing an “offensive” Hooters T-shirt, no one would have batted an eye. It’s not even like her T-shirt could even be perceived as physically threatening, like “I want to bash some fucking queers” or something.  No, someone decided that her political beliefs were too “offensive” to be voiced on an American Airlines flight.

As Jacobson writes:

How is it okay for American Airlines to decide what she can wear on her T-shirt or not? I have been on flights with men wearing tatoos that demean women, and t-shirts that advocate violence against women, that demean women, that treat Obama with racist derision… What someone wears on their body is their business. Whether or not you would wear that t-shirt is not the point. It is not for American Airlines to decide what is politically okay or not. 

These airline workers and this company should be ashamed of themselves. I urge you all to sign this Change.org petition asking American Airlines to apologize to O

But I’m not just angry at them: I am angry at the entire cultural ethos in this country right now where we think we can just ban, bully, block and legislate away people and ideas that we don’t like when they are not hurting anybody. How ironic that this woman was wearing a T-shirt that made a statement about intrusion in people’s private lives. Whatever happened to “live and let live” and minding your own business? 

[Reproductive Health Reality Check]

Contact the author of this post at [email protected] Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.