An NPR news story about an Article 32 hearing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland was part of the news summary today at the beginning of All Things Considered. The subject of the hearing is the behavior of Technical Sergeant Jaime Rodriguez, an Air Force recruiter accused of sex crimes The item was reported by Eileen Pace of Texas Public Radio. (The report updates a story you can read or hear on the TPR Web site.)
I had just returned home after running a few errands and was rather casually listening to the radio, but my ears perked up when I heard this sentence from Pace: “In three days of testimony, four female airmen and the Navy enlistee nervously offered graphic details to the court about the former recruiter.”
Air Force Web site finds instances of the first word but not the second. There are several references to female Airmen. (Airmen is always capitalized.)
Sometime in the past, female Airmen may have seemed devoid of irony, but not today. I wonder if females in our Air Force object to this term now (or will in the future). Interestingly, the Air Force in Australia (and perhaps in other countries) avoids oxymoronicity—if that isn’t a real word, it should be—by the use of the lowercased airwomen. (See an instance here.)
Do you think that female Airmen is acceptable in 2013 America? If not, what alternative would you like to see? Would Air Force women work?