So how are things going for feminism? Well, last week they took one of the great achievements of human history -- landing a probe from Earth on a comet hundreds of millions of miles away -- and made it all about the clothes.There's no antecedent for "they." Is "feminism" a collective term for all feminists? Even if it's only "some women," as Glenn puts it in the second paragraph, there's no way the people who chose to comment on Matt Taylor's shirt had the power to transform a newsworthy event into an event all about the clothes.
The statement would make more sense if it read: Some feminists made their preferred topic more attention-getting than the topic that should have predominated.
So what? We often pay less attention to what is more important. Why aren't we spending all our time thinking and talking about the deepest religious and philosophical questions?
Do you want to shut up the chatter that you think is too frivolous? It used to be the feminists who seemed to want to silence others. Apparently, now, they're so powerful that men are the ones doing the silencing. Men used to tell women that they ought to enter the debate and argue forthrightly in words and not expect men to shut up. In the case of this shirt, women jumped in, spoke up, and got heard. Isn't that what men had been advising women to do?
And I will be more provocative: In the broad span of human culture, fashion is more important than space travel.
Back to Glenn:
... Then some women noticed that one of the space scientists, Matt Taylor, was wearing a shirt... featuring comic-book depictions of semi-naked women.Some women noticed? Everyone noticed! It was an extremely showy shirt, and Taylor chose it for some reason. We were supposed to pretend we didn't see it? It's not as though the "some women" made something out of nothing. To blame the women for making this a topic is to impose a burden on us all to shut up about something obvious. If Taylor had wanted to keep everything focused on the achievements of the team he was on, he wouldn't have picked that shirt. Why attack the women?
And suddenly, the triumph of the comet landing was drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage about . . . what people were wearing....How is that a shout of feminist outrage? It's caustic humor. You know, the kind men used to like to say that women couldn't do? It was Taylor who brought attention to himself, which messed up the moment of triumph for his teammates. When you wear a shirt like that, you're asking for it... to use a phrase that has been used against women. And I know that in repurposing that old line, I'm putting Rose Eveleth in the place of the rapist, but she didn't commit any crime against Taylor. She criticized him.
The Atlantic's Rose Eveleth tweeted, "No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt."
Astrophysicist Katie Mack commented: "I don't care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn't appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in STEM." And from there, the online feminist lynch mob took off until Taylor was forced to deliver a tearful apology on-camera.Lynch mob? No physical injury befell Taylor. He was criticized. It used to be women who tried to control male speech and who would cry as a way to say that men shouldn't be so brutal. The tables are turned.
It seems to me that if you care about women in STEM, maybe you shouldn't want to communicate the notion that they're so delicate that they can't handle pictures of comic-book women. Will we stock our Mars spacecraft with fainting-couches?It seems to me that it's the man who crumpled in a flood of emotion. I think the women looked straight at the pictures and criticized them. That counts as handling. Taylor retreated. Whatever message he may have thought he was sending through his choice of shirt — and it's undeniable that he intended to send a message — it wasn't heard the way he wanted, and he expressed regret.
Fashion is ambiguous. You need to think about what you want to say with clothing. If you don't want to say much of anything, wear conventional, bland, neutral things. Taylor went far to the extreme in his choice of clothing. He was asking to be read. His shirt screamed. But what did it say? Some women told the world what they thought it said, and he disowned that statement. Conversation over.
Or do you want to keep talking about it? Because if you do — and apparently Glenn does — then you're causing it to overshadow the achievement of the Rosetta team. Why?
... [W]hat should have been the greatest day in a man's life -- accomplishing something never before done in the history of humanity -- was instead derailed by people with their own axes to grind.It wasn't to have been "the greatest day in a man's life," but the greatest day for a team, and that one man decided to showboat and draw attention to himself. That man said he's sorry. Can he melt back into the team — the team that deserves the credit — or do you insist on appropriating him for the purpose of attacking feminism?