An all-female Russian space crew preparing for a potential mission to the moon in 2029 were probably expecting some pretty hard hitting questions when they faced the media over the weekend.
Instead, they were inundated with ridiculous enquiries about men and make-up.
The six women had been locked away for eight days in an experiment to see if they could survive the experience of space travel, which is being presented as a giant step forward for gender equality.
However, as if to illustrate how much more still needs to be done to wipe out sexism, the questions from some sections of the press were horrendous.
Bearing in mind that the group of female volunteers included scientific researchers, a doctor and a psychologist, maybe people should have been asking them about, you know, science rather than how they’d cope in space without the means to doll themselves up or a bloke in the vicinity.
According to AFP, one of the participants, Darya Komissarova, was actually forced to respond: “We are very beautiful without makeup”, before her colleague Anna Kussmaul added: “Those who will take part in an experiment are not concerned there won’t be any men in their crew. We are here to do our job and we don’t have time to think about men”.
But given that Sergei Ponomarev, the scientific director of the experiment, opened the conference with some causal sexism of his own, perhaps we shouldn’t be that shocked.
According to the Guardian, he said:
It will be interesting to see how well they get on with each other, and how well they are able to perform tasks. We believe women might not only be no worse than men at performing certain tasks in space, but actually better.
Yes, news flash everybody, women might actually be equal to men. Good lord, Russia…