Pocket Rocket? German Feminists Demand Vulva-Shaped Spaceship to Challenge Phallic-Shaped Designs

© Sputnik ScreenshotA vulva-shaped rocket proposed by German feminist group Wer Braucht Feminismus?
A vulva-shaped rocket proposed by German feminist group Wer Braucht Feminismus? - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.03.2022
In many scientific fields, a higher percentage of women participated in the Soviet Union in the 1960s than did in the United States, even today. One of those was Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space and the 12th human overall.
The fictional film character Austin Powers made an extensive gag about it, and the fact hasn’t eluded the legions of social media users watching recent rocket launches: there’s no denying that rocket designs in recent years have a definite phallic shape.
One feminist group has taken up a bold new mission: to get the European Space Agency (ESA) to design a space rocket with a shape evoking that other type of human genitalia: the vulva.
According to Wer Braucht Feminismus? (Who Needs Feminism?) the group behind a Change.org petition, the purpose of the effort is to “make a statement for female empowerment.”
"We want to restore gender equality to the cosmos," they said.
As of December 2021, just 72 of the 596 humans who have been into space have been women. The purpose of the design isn’t just to promote diversity, however, it’s also very efficient.
“The spaceship’s shape is surprisingly aerodynamic, creating way less drag than when the vehicle punches through the Earth’s atmosphere,” Dr. Lucia Hartmann, the rocket’s inventor, said in a statement accompanying the petition.
“Due to this optimized V-shape, it guarantees maximum fuel efficiency with an exterior made of reinforced carbon which enables it to withstand the most extreme temperatures,” she added.
According to Daniel Ramspacher, a propulsion engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Center outside Washington, DC, the reason most rockets are the shape they are is mostly that it’s a proven design.
“Everything in our industry is more or less based on heritage,” he told Slate in July 2021, when one particularly suggestive rocket owned by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin blasted off. “It’s like, ‘Well, what have we used in the past? What can we leverage? How can we reduce risk or reduce cost?’”
Wer Braucht Feminismus’s Twitter account, WHAT IS FEMINISM today, has mostly featured photos of women describing why feminism is important. As part of their recent campaign, they included an image with a quote by Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who, in addition to being the first woman in space, has been a staunch advocate of women in science.
“A bird cannot fly with one wing only. Human space flight cannot develop any further without the active participation of women,” the quote reads. The Soviet Union made great strides toward gender equality, with more women not just studying in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, but achieving advanced degrees and powerful positions, than is seen even in the United States in the modern day.
Tereshkova flew into space on the Vostok 6 mission on June 16, 1963, spending three days in orbit. She later joined the leadership of the ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and after the USSR was dissolved in 1991, she became a lawmaker. She was most recently elected to the Russian State Duma in 2016.
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