Let's begin with the person who matters, and not the reprehensible insults aimed at her.
Major Mariam Al Mansouri wanted to be a pilot in the United Arab Emirates Air Force since she was a teenager. In 2007, as soon as the UAE open the door to women, she signed up for flight school, eventually becoming her country's first female fighter pilot. Upon graduation, she said in an interview, "It's an unbelievable feeling ... It's great to know that your country has that confidence in you."
On Monday, Al Mansouri, now a veteran pilot, was behind the controls of an F-16 Desert Falcon, flying as a team leader in the U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State.
Naturally, after hearing her story presented by a colleague, a pair of male commentators at Fox News used their on-air soapbox to make sexist jokes at her expense, chuckling at their own wit.
"Problem is, after she bombed it, she couldn't park it," quipped Greg Gutfeld, a panelist on The Five.
To which Eric Bolling chimed in, "Would that be considered boobs on the ground?"
Aren't they hilarious? Two loudmouths who probably couldn't even find the jet fuel starter on an F-16, sitting in the safety of a studio trash-talking a fighter pilot on a mission for her country – and theirs. Imagine if they had made similar insults about a male pilot, especially an American one.
This isn't about having a sense of humour. It's a put-down meant to push back women who cross boundaries and book-ending it with giggles doesn't change that. Perhaps articles like this one give them the publicity they seek, but we also can't keep shrugging off overt sexism as frat-boy antics. Gutfeld and Bolling shouldn't get a "do-over," as Fox anchor Greta Van Susteren suggested a couple hours after their remarks . They should get a good, hard shove off the air.
Just this week, actress Emma Watson, in her role as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador received a standing ovation for a speech in which she called on men to actively fight for gender equality. It's a great message and it's well-delivered. (Despite this, a few newspapers felt it more important to report on Watson's snappy outfit or use the opportunity to run racy front-page pictures of the actress, not just missing the point of her speech, but proving it.)
On The Five, there was little protest from the other panel members, who either fumbled their chance at a comeback, or quickly moved on. The female commentator who first brought up Al Mansouri seemed less concerned with the sexism, and more dismayed that her contribution to the segment was turned into a punch line. But Gutfeld and Bolling are yet one more example of why both genders need to speak up together, to make our voices louder than the loudmouths.
For one thing, we can't expect women such as Al Mansouri to fight all our battles.