Just in case you needed another reminder that we are living in an inherently sexist society that thrives on objectifying women regardless of their age, United Airlines has presented its customers — and well, the rest of the world — with a truly disgusting example.
Twitter user and anti-gun violence activist Shannon Watts sparked a firestorm when she witnessed a gate attendant at the Denver International Airport, Colorado, forbidding three female passengers from boarding the flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and decided to share the outrageous scene with her social media followers.
The reason: The girls — at least one of who was as young as 10 — were all wearing leggings.
How scandalous, right? I mean, who gave women the right to dress as they please?
The passengers were told to either change their clothes or put something on to cover themselves, because God forbid someone on the plane saw a female child’s legging-clad legs.
Ultimately, the young girl was forced to put on a dress she was carrying in her bag.
It is also to be noted the girl’s father was allowed to board the plane wearing shorts, which shows much more skin than a pair of leggings.
1) A @united gate agent isn't letting girls in leggings get on flight from Denver to Minneapolis because spandex is not allowed?— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
2) She's forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can't board. Since when does @united police women's clothing?— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
3) Gate agent for flt 215 at 7:55. Said she doesn't make the rules, just follows them. I guess @united not letting women wear athletic wear?— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
The first question that comes to mind is since when do airlines follow a strict dress code? Aren’t people supposed to travel in their coziest outfits, because, you know, comfort.
Secondly, who in the world gave that gate agent a right to treat those two women and a child like sexual objects?
It was sick, it was demeaning and it was most certainly not OK under any circumstances.
However, instead of apologizing and looking into the matter, the United Airlines responded by sending out a tone-deaf tweet, siding with its employee.
@baddestmamajama United shall have the right to refuse passengers who are not properly clothed via our Contract of Carriage. ^FS— United (@united) March 26, 2017
They claim the affected passengers were pass riders.
For those unaware, a “pass rider” is a traveler who either works for the air carrier or is related to an employee. They usually fly on discounted ticket.
The airline directed people to Rule 21 in its Contract of Carriage, insisting such passengers are held to a standard of dress because they “are representing UA when they fly.”
As if the argument was not absurd enough, it was also quite misleading considering the only time the rule outlining “refusal of transport” talks about clothing is under its “safety” section and even then, leggings are not mentioned anywhere.
Another dress code found online seems to only target women, as it forbids “form-fitting lycra/spandex tops, pants and dresses” and “attire that is provocative, inappropriately revealing or see-through.”
So, if it is up to a gate agent’s discretion to identify an item of clothing as “improper,” does that mean the United Airlines staffer in this particular incident sexualized a child’s body because she was wearing a form-fitting article of clothing?
No matter how you look at it, it is just appalling.
Social media users, including celebrities, were quick to call the airline out on its misogynistic policies.
@united Why aren't you allowing girls to wear leggings on flights? Who is your gate agent policing girls clothing?— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 26, 2017
@united Leggings are business attire for 10 year olds. Their business is being children.— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 26, 2017
I have flown united before with literally no pants on. Just a top as a dress. Next time I will wear only jeans and a scarf.— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 26, 2017
I applaud @united for making those girls change their leggings. Nothing on a plane offends me more than a comfortable woman.— Jim Norton (@JimNorton) March 27, 2017
I ONLY wear leggings. Suck it @united— Kat Dennings (@OfficialKat) March 26, 2017
People were also quick to point out that United Airlines itself ran ad campaigns featuring women in leggings.
There were also some other very valid concerns:
Meanwhile, the airline maintains its sexist policies are only meant for the employees and pass riders.
“All employees and pass riders are considered representatives of United. And like most companies, we have a dress code that we ask employees and pass riders to follow. The passengers this morning were United pass riders and not in compliance with our dress code for company benefit travel,” an Untied Airlines spokesperson told Jalopnik. “To our regular customers, your leggings are welcome.”
Unfortunately for the company, their non-apology apology might be a little too late.
Lololol I'm never flying @united again. Not allowing a 10 year old child on your flight for wearing leggings? ... what a joke.— Abigail Breslin (@yoabbaabba) March 26, 2017
@united Do U understand U have just made at least half UR customers very unhappy?— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 26, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Louis Nastro