Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sally Ride and Tam O'Shaughnessy

Sally Ride, the first woman from the west to go into space, died yesterday. And she came out in the obituary on her own website:

Sally Ride died peacefully on July 23rd, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.
In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.
So when I read this morning's Wall Street Journal I expected to at least see mention of Ms O'Shaughnessy--but the WSJ didn't play. Why?

The New York Times did, just. Other major outlets--such as CNN--also mentioned O'Shaughnessy.

But I would like to have seen a major newspaper tell us about how Sally Ride first met her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy, when they were twelve [note, this website plays commercials with sound--use your mute button]. I would like to have read about why she felt she had to marry a man for a few years. Did she love him? Was it a marriage of convenience? Would she have been accepted as an astronaut if she hadn't married him and looked 'normal' for the media? Would she have married O'Shaughnessy if she could? I don't know the answer to any of those questions. I would like to.

I hope someone writes a book. I hope Ms O'Shaunessy is willing to talk to a biographer and tell some home truths. We need these stories--if only to understand just how much the world (or at least this part of it) has changed in the last decade.
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