That poor scientist working on the comet probe, castigated by feminists for wearing a shirt featuring comic book images of scantily-clad women brandishing weapons! Matt Taylor, of the European Space Agency’s Resetta project team, was reduced to a tearful apology on camera after a media uproar initiated by some condemnatory tweets from women on Twitter, especially Atlantic writer Rose Eveleth: “No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt.” Richochet has some comments with which I’m in complete agreement:
“Several miserable harpies joined Ms. Eveleth on the public shaming, turning a staggering scientific achievement into a colloquy on restoring Victorian dress codes. For the record, the shirt was made by a woman named Elly Prizeman as a fun gift for her physicist friend. No doubt, she shall be placed in the village stockade for her grievous sin of consorting with a male and having her cartoon ladies show too much ankle. Her repentance will only be accepted when she covers them up in burkas.”
Now, on a big day for the ESA and the project team, and on a day when the unconventional Taylor just might have expected to be interviewed by the media, he could be accused of making a poor judgement in his shirt selection. I sometimes wear Hawaiian shirts to my office, but the imagery is more “traditional” and understated. Some might even think Taylor has been guilty of poor judgement in saturating his body surface with tatoos, but to each his own. Tolerance and a well-developed sense of humor are assets in a free society, and they are better at keeping it free than humoring those afflicted by hyper-sensitivity.
And there is this reaction:
“I’m furious. This is simply unacceptable. It is not ok to let the bullies win. I’ve spent years telling my daughters that it’s ok to be different, to not dress like every other girl in school. It’s ok for them to be geeks, to love science, to be in band, to not do what all the cool kids think they ought to do. And now, this comes along and suddenly all the work I have done is set back by the prissy mean girls who can’t stand that geeks are Odds.”
One can define “feminist” in a number of different ways. Does it refer to an individual who believes that women are entitled to compete for the same opportunities as men? That women are inherently capable of performing intellectual and physical tasks within the limits of their training, capacity and qualifications? Then I’m in! That implies nothing about gender quotas, reparations for perceived injustices, taxpayer subsidies to offset perceived gender-driven differences, or equality of gender outcome. If those things are required in order to be considered a feminist, then I’m out. And count me out if a humorless condemnation of a little sexually-inspired kitsch is a requirement. On the other hand, I truly believe that men and women should have equal opportunities to be objectified by the opposite sex. Again, no quotas!
Glen Reynolds has some thoughts about this unfortunate episode in his USA Today column. On a related note, here’s a piece from The New Republic defending the always grey t-shirted Mark Zuckerberg after certain feminists accused him of sexism for an otherwise innocuous “anti-fashion” comment.