“It’s vulgar. It’s demeaning and insulting to women. It is definitely sexist. It symbolizes the entire male-privilege concept and the way men view women, as nothing but sex objects.”
“It’s just a shirt. Maybe it was inappropriate for the situation, but it isn’t important enough to overshadow the tremendous scientific accomplishment that was made. It’s a tempest in a teapot. It just isn’t that big a deal.”
For days now, I have watched the case of the offending shirt develop and have tried to be sure that I balanced what I read as evenly as possible between the pros—Matt Taylor good; shirt unimportant—and the cons—shirt evil; Matt Taylor a sexist pig.
I continued reading; I soon decided that I abhorred the vitriol with which some of the more strident shirt-haters expressed their opinions, but I equally despised the nastiness with which their opponents attacked them. There appeared to be no heroes in this battle.
I dabbled in a brief, back-and-forth with Jack Marshall on his ethics blog, which, incidentally, I never miss reading. My primary contention was that those vilifying the shirt—and Dr. Taylor—the strongest were lacking in credibility as sincere feminists because they were passing up the opportunity to highlight the role of females on the project, choosing instead to crucify Taylor for having the total lack of sensitivity and the unmitigated gall to wear that shirt for a television interview. As I phrased it to Jack in a comment, “That to me says their first priority is male-bashing at any cost with female accomplishments coming in a distant second.”
He expressed limited agreement with that but maintained that, “If he [Taylor] wore that shirt around female colleagues it was automatic sexual harassment anywhere in the US, and completely disrespectful to any woman, scientist or otherwise, in the room, regardless of what any law or policy said.”
My opinion was validated when I stumbled upon a blog, or a collection of blog posts, here. I read:
You know what I find the most damning about this?
I spent three hours trying to find an interview or even an esposé on Kathrin Altwegg, one of the lead scientists on this mission* hoping to see something on the subject matter important to the research undergone, anything, even a modicum of a write-up about the women involved in the Rosetta Mission. Instead all I found was this tripe [the shirt issue].
*Altewegg also has 23 publications to her name relevant to the Rosetta missions, in case you were curious. Why isn't anyone talking about these achievements? Why is it all about what Matt Taylor wore? Why isn't there a single blogger giving these women the credit they deserve?
This was a monumental opportunity for an intrepid blogger to sit down, reach out to the ESA and say "Hey, we'd like to interview some of the women on this mission because we feel like they've set a great platform for young girls to get involved in science in technology. These women participated in a scientific achievement that decades from now, others like them can look back and trace the roots of future scientific progress to the work these women did."
Instead..."THAT SHIRT IS SEXIST."
And then the piece de resistance came with this:
As a female in the science community, I thank you for this.
It's really an amazing feeling when you are recognized for your achievements and not a lot of people realize how much is being done by females in science due to it being overpowered by "men scare women from science” (or some other bullshit like that which isn't true at all).
Seeing this all over social media really just upset me
1- because I am super passionate about space science and development and that landing was a HUGE event.
2- because I am female and i think the way Matt Taylor's shirt is being perceived is completely stupid….So what if he has a ridiculous sense of fashion?…Humanity makes more out of an ugly shirt than the biggest event in science in the past couple of years and we need to realize those are now the people we share a planet with.
I understand that some want gender equality and whatever else but…you people need to get your shit together.
And I believe that says it all.