Major Mariam

F-16 UAE Air Force_screenshotWhat the fighter jocks and hens (footnote) say about Fox’s sexist disparagement of Major Mariam Al Mansouri of the United Arab Emirates Air Force, who took part in the strikes on ISIL as pilot of a F-16 (illustrated).

Let’s also note a brilliant act of psychological warfare. Jihadists are, among other things, misogynists. They are quite ready to die as Ghazis in a hail of bullets from infidels. But the prospect of being killed in combat by a Muslim Arab woman must be deeply disorienting. The Nazi pilots and U-boat crews did not know how many of their deadly enemies were women. Had they known, the effect would have been similar.

Major Mariam is a brave officer. The publication of her name has made her a target, more than in her cockpit.

Do the armed forces have a better term for a woman fighter pilot? I constructed “fighter hen” from the Scots. A “Jock” is a Scotsman, especially a Scottish soldier; “hen” is a common term, affectionate and not pejorative, for a woman.


  1. Primigenius says


    I have always thought that "jock" is simply short for "jockey." If that's the case, as a native of the state recognised for its excellent bourbon and thorobreds, I think both men and women can be jockeys and women are fighter jocks too.

  2. patisfidel says


    I believe the term 'fighter jock' is a short form of 'fighter jockey', the jockey in this case not being the Scottish "boy or fellow" but instead the more general "person who rides horses in races". As there is not a common term for female horse-rider (other than cowgirl which doesn't feel like it applies) fighter jock can be used uni-sexually.

  3. Warren_Terra says


    In my experience, in colloquial use in the US "jock" can mean one of two things: a crude male-stereotype meathead – or just a dedicated athlete of whatever gender. Given that "fighter jock" isn't obviously especially perjorative (and may even derive from "jockey" more directly, instead of coming by way of "jock"), we might assume it's along the latter lines and so might not be especially gendered.

    • KennnethJ says


      Not to pile on, but the most famous jockeys, the equine-related kind, are unisex whether Yanks or Jocks: " Favourite Blaine, ridden by Amy Ryan, was third ahead of Heaven's Guest [in the Ayr Gold Cup]. Ryan was bidding to become the first female jockey to win Scotland's top flat race." BBC Sport 9/20/14.

  4. robertwaldmann says


    Finding the feminine analog of "jock" is challenging. I am fairly sure that "hen" isn't the word you want. That is the female analog of "cock" . I thought "jock" came from "jock strap" and means roughly someone athletic because jock straps are worn during athletics. If so, it seems that the female analog is "sports bra". Then as "one who wears a jock strap" becomes "jock", "one who wears a sports bra" becomes "bra" or maybe "sports bra":

    To me this all makes logical sense, and therefore has no relationship to language.

    • marcel_proust says


      Given the frequent use in romance (and some other European) languages to distinguish gender by "a" and "o", I would think that "bra's" is the counterpart to "bro's".

    • byomtov11 says


      I thought the same, but isn't a sports bra also sometimes called a jog bra? If so, we can use "jogbra," obviously shortened to "jog."

      "Some jocks and jogs went out for beer after the game."

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