Feminine power in a man’s world: Lingerie under my flight suit.

Until 2010, I was an active duty Naval Flight Officer (NFO) in the E-2C Hawkeye. I was the only female aviator in my squadron, the World Famous Rulers of the Planet VAW-123 Screwtops. Yes, we actually called ourselves that. It was even in my official military orders. I love Naval Aviation.

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Photo credit: Derek Gordon

Flight school was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I was stressed in a million new ways, and in the beginning the stress was bringing out the best in me. I excelled and was feeling pretty good, even a bit cocky.

That was all about to change.

Things ramped up as we got closer to the winging ceremony, which is, as you may as figured, the ceremony wherein the students officially get their wings. I had a lot of flights and simulator events to get through, and my multitasking skills weren’t as good as I thought they were. My confidence wavered, and my performance started to take a nose dive, so to speak.

I am eternally grateful for my mentor at the time, a talented and dedicated female instructor who took extra time to work with me. She even came in on weekends to help me in the simulator, and I know that extra bit of practice and instruction is what finally got my skills where they needed to be.

Fast forward to my last flight before wings. I was incredibly anxious, because I was scheduled to fly with a notoriously nerve-wracking instructor. Even though I had improved dramatically, I was letting self-doubt creep in where it didn’t belong.

There’s a reason that aviators tend toward cockiness. It’s practically a required trait. Generally, it applies more to pilots than NFOs out of necessity; pilots need to have the confidence to land an 80 million dollar aircraft on a flight deck the size of a 7-11 parking lot. As an NFO, you still have life and death decisions to make, just not as often, and in different arenas. So you need to be good, and you need to know you’re good. I wasn’t so sure. That’s bad.

20140719-111839-40719203.jpgDon’t worry, I got my wings.

Although I had wavering confidence in my military prowess, I never doubted my sexual prowess. (For a long time, I did not use my powers for good; that’s a bad girl post for another time.) So what do you do if you’re a sexually confident military woman who is nervous about an event? Wear racy lingerie under your uniform.

So that’s what I did. Lacy bra, matching thong, garter belt, stockings, everything but my whip and handcuffs.

And it worked. Every time I got sweaty-palm nervous controlling aircraft or getting grilled by my instructor, I took a deep breath, recalled my knowledge, thought “he’s got no idea what I’m wearing under my flight suit” and kicked ass.

It’s kind of like imagining your audience naked, only it’s you. And not naked. Ok, it’s a bit of a stretch, but you know what I mean.

For me, it was a tool to alleviate my stress and focus on the task at hand. It was a little bit of “I know something you don’t” that gave me a much-needed confidence boost. Every human interaction is a power play, so having a little extra knowledge secreted away gives you an edge.

Tell me your stories. What methods do you use to cope with stressful situations? Would you try mine?

Love and purple to you all,

Eve
aka “ODB”

“Is your husband in the military?” My Experience with Gender Bias

A repairman came to fix our fridge today, and I knew what was coming as he glanced at the military pictures and framed documents that dominate our decor. Hey, flight school was f*cking hard; damn right I’m gonna show that sh*t off! Wouldn’t you? Anyway, I knew that he was going to ask the question, and sure enough, there it was.

“Oh, is your husband in the military?”

I smiled, thinking I know you didn’t mean to sound like a sexist jackass, and I said “we both are.” Then came the usual ill-concealed surprise. But this time, he shook my hand and thanked me for my service. Which I appreciated.

But I’m sick of it.

It’s a question I get every time we move, or every time a stranger is in our home. And it’s not just from old men; guys in their twenties and thirties see our “We love us” wall covered with various mementos of our years in Naval aviation and just automatically assume it all belongs to my husband. It was kind of fun ten years ago when I still liked surprising people, but now? I’m an accomplished veteran, mother of two, and forty(-ish) year old woman.

I’m sick of being underestimated just because of my gender.

Well-meaning people make excuses for the question. They talk about how female military members are still a new thing.

No, we’re not.

There aren’t enough of us, but it is not a new thing. Women were finally allowed (on paper) to fly into combat in 1993. Over two decades ago. That’s like saying the CD is a new thing. (Aside: my daughter asked me the other day, “What’s a CD?” We stream a lot of music.)

Here’s why I think some people “just need time to get used to it,” a phrase I detest when it comes to women in historically male roles.

We don’t need time to adjust. Men need our help to catch up.

Oh, great, another woman saying that men can’t help it because they’re men and it’s up to us to do the work and change the world.

Well, yeah. Kind of. I believe that men tend to resist change more than women. It’s in their DNA. The primal hunter needs to be in control of his environment and surroundings so he can adequately protect his mate and offspring from enemies or predators. He needs time to suss things out and make the cave defensible. Absolutely fair. The problem is that we are not in caves anymore.

I’m not saying men should change, nor am I saying that it’s on women to speed things up.

What I am asking women to do is stop giving a sh*t what people think of who you really are. And I aim this challenge at myself, too. I’m constantly working on letting my true colors fly.

It’s my life, and I’m the one that has to live it as authentically as I can.

How many of us have backed away from our goals because of too much flack or negativity from people? I know that I have silenced myself for fear of offending someone who probably ends up offended anyway. I have listened too often to the inner critic saying shut up shut up. How often have we not spoken our mind because we don’t want to be called bossy or bitchy? And here’s a thing:

There is no male equivalent to the word “bossy.” A man can be “boss” but that is considered a compliment. That’s f*cked up, y’all. Not right at all.

I wish that I had said “in the future, you might not want to assume that the man is the military member.” Because if we don’t start calling out the gender bias that is endemic in our society, it will continue. Yes, we have made progress. But not enough. And definitely not fast enough.

I’d love to kick things up a notch. Who’s with me? Are you sick of staying quiet to avoid pissing anyone off? Are you fed up with being called bitchy or egotistical because you’re good at your job? I’d love to hear your stories!

Love and purple,

Eve

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Being ODB: My First 24 Hours on an Aircraft Carrier

I am a Naval Flight Officer and veteran. I served eight years on active duty and entered the Navy Reserve in 2010 after having my first child. My callsign is ODB (that’s another post) and the Being ODB series focuses on my time in the Navy as a short Jewish female aviator. This post originally appeared on The Purple Mama.

After finishing flight school and reporting to my squadron back in 2005, I stepped aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and life got even more interesting. This is an account of my first day on The Boat. Some of it may be a foreign language to civilians, so please let me know if you have any questions. I hope you enjoy reading it!

My First 24 Hours on an Aircraft Carrier

1130: Strap on four computers and about twice my weight in gear and head to the ready room….wherever that may be. (Heh. Strap-on.) Try not to panic when I have to walk aboard alone and clueless. Feel like I have a large blinking neon sign above my head saying HELP I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE! Have no idea what to say to the Officer of The Deck. Find out I am supposed to say either “Request permission to board” or “Report my return aboard.” I say something like “Request permission to report my returning to board.”

1132: While carrying aforementioned gear, fall down the same ladder upon which a fellow squadron member broke his leg on the previous deployment. Get up with some bruises, mainly to my ego. (Really, Mom, I’m ok.)

1133: Realize that personnel ranging from Seaman Schmuckatelli to a Commander on ship’s company witnessed the fall. Freeze in horror. Unfreeze to avoid holding up the line of 1500 annoyed people behind me.

1200: Find out that my stateroom isn’t available yet, so I have nowhere to bring my gear. (Aside: The Navy calls them staterooms to make them sound luxurious. Most of you have bathrooms that are bigger.) Am told I have to wait until “later” to get a room. Plan to sleep in the ready room. Which is fine, really. That means I don’t have to negotiate any more ladders.

1200 – 1300: Hang around in the ready room trying to blend in with the walls so I don’t get tasked and have to risk another ladder anytime soon.

1302: Get tasked to do stuff and have to climb at least ten ladders trying to find goal of tasking. Get miserably lost, not solely because of lack of orientation, but also because all ladders seem to lead to the same place: nowhere. On the plus side, I don’t fall again. Yet.

1330: Finally realize that I have to figure it out and actually get started on my job. Find out that my job is going to be a bit more difficult because my month of prep work has been arbitrarily declared null and void. Right butt cheek and elbow start throbbing from fall.

1331-1600: Get the hang of the ladder and climb up and down five decks with computers while trying to set up the LAN and my users. Only get marginally lost and remain upright the entire time. Feel proud, and still bruised.

1600: Eat in Wardroom. Cloth napkins! Glass goblets! Buffet style cafeteria food! Fried goodness! Multiple desserts! Am in heaven!

1645: Flight suit will barely stayed zipped up. Have to work out three times a day every day now…Ugh, I don’t know if that was really chicken. Where’s the head?

1700: Go to S5 (Staterooms) office and stand in a line that snakes around the corner.

1730: Move up two feet.

1745: Move up three feet.

1800: Move back three feet.

1830: Get into the office and ask for a key to my room. He leaves the office muttering something about leaves. Or something.

1845: First person I asked is nowhere to be found. Ask another person for a key.

1900: Find out that original stateroom is still occupied. Get sent to the Ship’s Secretary’s stateroom, which is a 3-man that she has made into a 1-woman. Have nowhere to put my stuff and she has no interest in making room. I don’t blame her.

1930: Go back to S5 office and ask for a different room.

2000: Original person nowhere to be found. Ask another person for a different room.

2030: Get a key to an 8 man on the 0-3 level under the Jet Blast Deflector, or JBD. Original room was 5 decks lower in a very quiet space. Am sure that something called Jet Blast Deflector can’t be too bad, though.

2035: Resume ADP duties. Climb 13 more ladder wells, bringing the total this far to at least 5,132.

0030: Cannot put off bringing my seabag and duffel bag up 5 decks any longer. Make two trips. Eagerly anticipate sleep.

0040: Realize that my flip-flops, necessary for showering in the morning and getting around during the night, are at the bottom of my very tightly packed seabag.

0045: Unpack and realize that every single drawer and cabinet make a curiously loud whining sound when opening or closing. Am sure the five sleeping roommates don’t mind at all.

0100: Finish unpacking, brush teeth, wash face and hit the rack. Literally. Discover “mattress” is well-disguised piece of concrete. Ouch.

0105: Somewhat noisy, but think I can fall asleep. After all, it’s not so bad, much like my college dorm, which was not too OH MY G-D A TRACTOR JUST FELL THROUGH THE ROOF NEXT DOOR.

0106: No one is very concerned about fallen tractor. Realize it is aforementioned JBD when it happens again 2 minutes later. And every 2 minutes after that. For a very. Long. Time.

0108: Realize that Jet Blast Deflector is deflecting blast into my room. Try to find something peaceful and lulling about said blast.

0140-0800: Attempt something once known as “sleep.” Realize it will take time to adjust to this new definition.

0830: Proceed to female head to take a shower. Feel bruised but very excited about first full day aboard. Start the water and wait for it to warm up.

0832: Wait some more for water to warm up.

0834: Still waiting and trying to remain positive.

0835: Oh no. Please no.

0840: Huddle in corner of shower and soap up. Dread rinsing.

0841: F*ckthisisfreezingf*ckthisisf*ckingcoldholyf*ckf*ckf*ckf*ckf*ck.

0843: Head back to stateroom, warmed up by rainforest-like atmosphere in passageway. Get dressed.

0915: Make it to ready room and start to get work done. Actually help a few new sailors with directions along the way. I think.

1130: Take a quick stroll in the hangar bay and appreciate the view of the ocean rushing past 50 feet below. Help a few more sailors with directions. Hopefully. Remain upright all the way down. Bruises not so bad. Things will be just fine…

Eve, The Purple Mama, is a veteran and mother trying to take over the world here. She writes anything that is unrelated to world domination here.

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Ten More Signs Your Spouse is Deployed

Welcome to the second installment! Here are ten more signs your spouse is deployed. If you missed the first installment, check it out here.

11. You secretly love it when your kids sneak into the bed for some snuggling. For the non-snugglers, you rediscover the middle of the bed and dread giving it up.
12. You rinse and reuse your kids’ plates for meals and use paper towels for your plate.
13. You bribe your kids even more. Especially if it means a nap. For any or all of you.
14. You have more company in the shower than usual.
15. Your wine purchases double. Again.
16. The “no TV during meals” rule becomes “…oh whatever.”
17. After the kids go to bed, you have pizza rolls and potato chips for dinner. Or sometimes just the potato chips.
18. Somehow the volume of laundry increases.
19. You go to bed with a dirty kitchen because you just can’t stay vertical once the kids are down.
20. The kitchen has never been cleaner. Within 10 minutes of dinner.

I welcome your additions and thoughts, whether you’re military or not. I know many civilian spouses travel for long periods, and y’all know what it’s like too. Know that you’re appreciated by one who’s living it now. So please share!

Ten Signs Your Spouse Is Deployed

1. Your wine purchases have doubled.
2. The kids want pizza again? Sure.
3. Your fantasies involve the bath and the bed, for bathing and sleeping. And that’s it.
4. Every American flag makes you a bit weepy.
5. When your kid’s playdate is leaving at 4, you desperately ask the parent if they want to stay for dinner. And then maybe a sleepover.
6. You consider joining a single parent support group. (Especially if your spouse is an IA or you’re not in a spouses club.)
7. Suddenly your Reserve weekends seem a lot more fun.
8. You stay at Chick-Fil-A for three hours. Or more. And you don’t always eat.
9. You go to bed at least two hours later than usual. And stay up too late watching TV. Probably Law and Order. But SVU or original, not Criminal Intent.
10. When laundry piles up, you just buy more underwear.

If you were reading this and nodding vigorously, please know that you’re appreciated. And feel free to contribute your own. I welcome your additions!

Have a wonderful day, and give yourself a hug – you deserve it!