When they manage to break down barriers, their achievements are often viewed through the lens of gender.
Colonel Wang’s mission has been treated in official statements and state media as a novelty, even though China sent its first women to space nearly ten years ago. The Soviet Union sent the first woman into orbit in 1963: Valentina Tereshkova, who spent three days in space and remains the only woman to fly solo. The first American woman, Sally Ride, rode in 1983.
The reaction in China echoes what these previous pioneers faced. Dr Ride answered patronizing questions about menstruation, motherhood and whether she intended to wear a bra in orbit. “It’s a shame that our society is not more advanced,” she said then.
In a short TV report showing her training for the upcoming spacewalk, Colonel Wang expressed a similar confidence, saying she hoped the mission aboard the new space station, called Tiangong, would be “brighter thanks. to me “. She also alluded to the obstacles she had to overcome.
“For me, being an astronaut is not a profession, but a career, and it is such a career that I have a strong love for,” she said. “This love is enough for me to overcome all difficulties, to overcome all barriers and even to sacrifice my own life. “