New ABC Series on Pan Am Will Focus on Glamour, Not Reality

Yano really small Variety reports today that ABC has greenlighted a new series to revolve around the pilots and stewardesses of 1960s Pan Am. Reporter Michael Schneider writes that the show will focus on "what it meant to be a flight attendant in the go-go days of flight travel." We wonder if it will reveal the ugly sexism and racial stereotyping behind the glamour. In her book Femininity in Flight, Kathleen Barry revealed the many indignities that women working in the airline industry had to endure in the 1950s and 60s: weigh-ins, forced retirements upon marriage, skimpy uniforms and sexual abuse by passengers. She details the important role of unions in changing most of these policies and turning the sexy stewardess into the safety-conscious flight attendant. In her forthcoming book Airborne Dreams, Christine R. Yano tells another Pan Am story, that of second-generation Japanese-American women 978-0-8223-3946-5_pr ("Nisei") recruited to staff Pan Am's Asia routes. They were ostensibly  hired for their language skills, but since many of them hardly spoke any Japanese, their more important role was to bring an "exotic" appeal to the routes and play into stereotypes about Asian women. They endured all the same indignities of other flight attendants; one woman Yano interviewed remembered the pilot-conducted girdle checks. Now there's something that should be featured on the new show!

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