Unoriginal sin hashtag getoffmylawn

A while ago… last april?… so uh… 7 months ago, I wrote a post about Melody Hensley from CFI DC and her claim that harrassment caused her PTSD…. and how that claim caused her to be harassed on twitter. Well… CFI has leaped into action to defend her… as they should… once their seemingly generous summer vacations were finished…

First, I fully support people’s right to speak and be heard on twitter, regardless of how stupid, and ill-suited to meaningful communication, I think that particular social media platform is. Freedom of expression is important to me, and although I don’t always agree with Hensley or any other random person at CFI, having the stones to speak your mind is something I respect.

First, many of the communications that accuse Ms. Hensley of making false claims mischaracterize the source of Ms. Hensley’s PTSD. It is not the use of Twitter itself, or any social media, that caused Ms. Hensley’s problems. It is the abuse she received via social media.

So I am going to nit pick a bit. Maybe it’s me, but invoking NRA logic, Social media doesn’t cause PTSD, Harrassers do… strikes me as an amusingly american thing to do.

They also compare social media to driving a car? Not a horrible analogy.. but it sorta neglects the fact that not all social media are created equal. Facebook might be like driving on the widened roads of some gated community suburb, but Twitter is more like a global demolition derby on planet psychopath. Next someone will be recommending 4chan-therapy.

I’m thinking someone suffering from PTSD might not benefit from that level of… therapy. But… I’m not a psychologist….

Speaking of twitter though… The big D is at it again, and PZ is not impressed.

Dawkins twittered:

Oh NO. Just checked my privilege. Turns out I’m a white heterosexual male. http://t.co/3I1J1dWRrq How can I atone? Hair shirt? Flagellation?

PZ responded:

@RichardDawkins Nothing to atone for. Recognize your advantages, & use them to help less privileged. This shouldn’t be hard to figure out

I skipped to this part because I think it shows not only the silly nature of twitter, but also where these two atheist giants are missing the boat.

Dawkins is not just criticizing, he is trolling. Feminism might be full of ideologues(#notallfeminists), but that ideology is not generally based on the supernatural, so the ‘atoning’ commment is an obvious false equivocation.

On the other end, PZ makes the exact same mistake by equivocating ‘advantages’ with ‘privilege’. In this case, he is somewhat obtusely taking the Dictionary-Feminist position, while ignoring the modern Internet-Rage-Feminist usage of the word ‘privilege’.

If I were to say for instance:

Some people are born with advantages that others don’t have, and some people are born very disadvantaged. And I feel, somewhat arbitarily, that those with advantages should help the disadvantaged.

My feeling is, that Dawkins would probably agree with that, as would most people who are not psychopaths or followers of Ayn Rand(or both).

But Dawkins is clearly not responding to that sense of the word ‘privilege’, rather he is responding to the way “check your privilege” is often used as a dismissive ad hominem against, those who don’t share the ‘social justice’ agenda, and when they are being particularly ragey, against anyone fitting in the #sizhetpenisoppressor (the snake in the feminist garden of eden) category.

You know… like this supermodel of gender equality.

Now, I could talk about how mocking men for crying is actually feeding into the same ‘patriarchy’ that feminists claim oppresses women everywhere all the time… but meh… rage-feminist hypocrisy is boring. And I still got my privilege yo… so why should I care.

Except… over the last few days, another twitter storm has caused emotional damage to someone who didn’t deserve it. A scientist who should have been reveling in a huge sciency success, but was brought to tears by the twitter attack dogs who couldn’t care less about science, and were oh so offended by his poor fashion sense. He wore a loud hawaiian style shirt to a press interview, a birthday present, made for him by a female friend, which sported some immodest pictures of women.

Hijabbed

Hijabbed

I have hijabbed the photo, because I’m a sensitive guy and I don’t want to trigger any of my fellow testosterone victims, with the wanton female form.

Sure it was a brain fart of an idea, to wear the shirt to an interview… but that dude had just completed what will probably be his life’s work, and despite what twitter would have you believe, a silly shirt is NOT an exemplar of what is keeping women out of STEM…. FFS.

There are lots of serious issues, like lack of childcare options, career paths that favour traditon male gender roles, societal gender norms, the gender bias of (male… and female) professors and employers…etc… that help limit the number of women in STEM… but stupid fucking shirts are not the fucking problem. And the people using this guy as a twitter scapegoat are douche bags on a supreme level. Oh, and the dumbass twitter shirt-defenders, who are now harassing the douche bags, are just as bad. Did I mention the twitter is the stupid? #asteroidrocketsomething #whocares

Update: More Feminist shirt obssession.

34 thoughts on “Unoriginal sin hashtag getoffmylawn

  1. It is not about the shirt, it is about the attack. Bored
    people wtih nothing to do but tweet.

  2. He wore a loud hawaiian style shirt to a press interview….

    Bloody hell, but that’s dishonest.

    • It`s not dishonest; that`s how I described the shirt in a conversation I had before I saw this post.

      • That shirt would have been unacceptable office attire any place I have worked for at least the last 20 years. The nicest thing I can say about it is that it’s unprofessional. The entire framing of “Nasty feminists bully poor scientist to tears” is rubbish.

        The guy screwed up; he actually, truly did. However, he apologized. And that would be the end of story as far as I’m concerned.

        • “That shirt would have been unacceptable office attire any place I have worked…”

          Bloody hell, but that is anecdotal. Seen a number of people, both men and women push the limits of casual Friday in my day… But I’m sure making history is just another day at the office for you…

          • Joe: What would you consider to be non-anecdotal?

            As someone who worked both as an engineer and a manager in a tech company for a few decades, I received training in appropriate workplace conduct from both the employee and management perspective. So, while I don’t have the documented evidence at hand*, I can say that my company (and most others of any reasonable size) started taking the issue of sexism in the workplace very seriously, starting in the 1990s. If one of my employees of whatever gender had worn a shirt with scantily clad women on it, they would have been told that it was inappropriate, even for a Hawaiian/loud shirt day.

            Corwin: “isn’t there something to be said for pushing against such norms?”

            There are many times and places where it is good to push against norms. However, we also have rules of behaviour that help smooth social interactions, and make workplaces effective and productive. On various discussion fora, I have seen people assert that “Sexy doesn’t always mean sexist”. I would certainly agree with that. However, I would counter that even non-sexist sexy does not belong in the workplace (except for sex-workers).

            *though I certainly could produce it if required – see http://www.nortel-canada.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/code-of-conduct-2007.pdf

          • The statement by definition was anecdotal. It was a sarcastic comment that mirrored his ridiculous dishonesty accusation.

            As to workplace appropriateness, I think people get their nickers in a knot over silly things all the time. I have worked in a variety of office environments and been exposed to a number of narrow minded prudish policies.

            And I think the twitter reaction exemplifies this.

            But fine… lets take that as the standard. In such a situation… where you were in charge, and on office hawaiian shirt day, some misogynist bastard wore that shirt to work. Would you take him aside privately and tell him you thought it was sexist, and ask him not to wear that sort of shirt again? Or… would you march him up in front of his coworkers, call him a misogynist and claim that despicable sexist shirt is the reason women don’t get into STEM fields?

            Is that the appropriate… procedure? Because as I said, I think wearing the shirt to an interview was a dumb idea… because its loud and obnoxious, but mostly because shallow hypersensitive people care more about fashion than science.

            oh…. and this:

        • That shirt would have been unacceptable office attire any place I have worked for at least the last 20 years.

          Fair enough, but isn’t there something to be said for pushing against such norms? How much personality and capacity for self-expression do you want people to have to surrender in the name of “professionalism” when they show up at work?

          • Why is it that whenever free expression comes up it’s ALWAYS *consequence-free* free expression? As if that were even really a thing.

            While I’m all for flipping off corporate norms and expressing yourself, surely you can’t expect that you won’t be judged by whatever statement you choose to express. When the statement you choose to use the workplace to tell the world – in a historic moment viewed by millions – is “I like hot chicks”, what kind of response could you seriously expect to get besides “you’re a buffoon”? Which is more or less the response he got.

          • You are the first to mention *consequence free*.

            What we have here is consequence out of any reasonable proportion to the act of wearing a stupid shirt.

          • Which is what, *exactly*? What – *exactly* – are the disproportionate consequences Taylor is paying? Because, from where I’m sitting, the only consequences Taylor has faced were being called “stupid” for wearing the “stupid shirt”… which not only seems eminently reasonable, it seems downright obvious and natural – pretty darn proportional, in other words. He was an idiot, he was called out for being an idiot, and he’s apologized for being an idiot. We’re done. That was it. “Shirtstorm” is over. Whence the “out of any reasonable proportion” consequences?

            To clarify, pretty much everyone who called Taylor out for the shirt – the so-called “social justice warriors” – accepted the apology and moved on. The continuing hullabaloo has *absolutely nothing to do with that*. It is all freaking out by *other people* targeting the “SJWs” simply because they hate everything about the “SJWs” – not Taylor or the shirt – and then, of course, the “SJWs” responding to that freakout. In other words, the people who actually objected to the shirt: totally reasonable. The ridiculous, out-of-proportion freakout is not coming from them, but rather from their enemies. And it has nothing to do with the shirt or with Taylor, and everything to do with the hate these people have on for *everything* the “SJWs” do.

            But you are rolling that all up into one, lumping together the entirely reasonable concerns and actions of the people who objected to the shirt – and the entirely reasonable consequences they asked for, and got, and were satisfied with – with the horrendous, out-of-control, borderline-psychotic behaviour of an *ENTIRELY* unrelated group, for *ENTIRELY* unrelated reasons. That is not an honest characterization of what happened.

            So I ask again: focusing just on Taylor, the shirt, and those who objected to it, precisely what “out-of-proportion consequences” has Matt Taylor faced for the shirt? He did something dumb publicly – not criminally stupid, but bone-headed – and he “paid the price” for that *exactly*: he apologized publicly for being dumb publicly. That’s all there was to it, if you don’t lump in the behaviour of the idiots who *don’t* object to the shirt, but rather to the people who pointed it out. And it is dishonest to include those people’s reactions in the consequences Taylor has to face; they’re not after Taylor, they’re after the “SJWs”, and they’re not freaking out about the shirt, they’re freaking out about the fact that the “SJWs” actually spoke out, and won.

          • I don’t think the man is an idiot, he’s a smart guy who made a stupid mistake, like anyone can.

            And it was a stupid shirt, and I have no problem with people calling it a stupid shirt, but that is not the issue.

            The ‘SJWs’ didn’t just call it a stupid shirt, they said it was ‘misogynist’, like anything they don’t like, and some said he was misogynist for wearing it, and some said his shirt was an example of why women don’t go into stem fields.

            Those sorts of stupid comments completely derailed the discussion of a historic event in science, to focus on a stupid shirt. And that is not only sad, but a really shitty thing to do.

            And just like the ‘stupid shirt’ is *not free from consequences*, the stupid comments of ‘SJWs’ are not either. There are certainly people making stupid criticisms of them as well, but that is the recursive nature of twitter, and well the internet.

            I have sympathy for the guy because he didnt intend any of this and he’s been raked over the SJW coals for a mistake. I don’t have sympathy for SJW/Misogynist trolls who hijacked an important event just so they can continue their stupid flame war.

          • He’s also the first one to mention “free expression”. No one is saying that Taylor’s “free expression” is being infringed by the “free expression” of the SJW’s to flip out over it. Its also Joe’s “free expression” to say that said reaction was over the top and (in a sense) punitive in its own right.

            I really like this:

            “But Dawkins is clearly not responding to that sense of the word ‘privilege’, rather he is responding to the way “check your privilege” is often used as a dismissive ad hominem against, those who don’t share the ‘social justice’ agenda,.”

            and this:

            “Some people are born with advantages that others don’t have, and some people are born very disadvantaged. And I feel, somewhat arbitarily, that those with advantages should help the disadvantaged.

            My feeling is, that Dawkins would probably agree with that, as would most people who are not psychopaths or followers of Ayn Rand(or both).”

            I understand the urge not to adopt various terms of rhetoric even where I understand and acknowledge the underlying concept because I feel I’m being asked to tacitly accept a certain agenda that goes along with it–although I’d probably be more tactful about it than Dawkins and avoid usage rather than mocking them.

            I’d add “rape culture”, and “Islamophobia” to that list along with “privilege”.

          • So you have no answer to the question of what “out of any reasonable proportion” consequences Taylor has faced, and decided instead to try a differently flavoured groundless assertion. Now the “SJWs” are guilty of “completely derailing the discussion”. Let’s turn to reality again and see if this new assertion fares any better than the old one.

            I watched the live hangout discussing the comet landing on the 14th – the one that included Dr. Taylor’s apology. The total hangout was just over an hour long – the YouTube video clocks in at 1:01:25. Dr. Taylor’s apology comes the first time he’s handed the mic at 15:35. It lasts about 15 seconds, followed by 13 seconds of silence, so let’s call it 28 seconds total… after which he immediately leaps into a rather passionate discussion of being on the “cusp” of science.

            Now I don’t know if you know how trains work, but when they “derail” they don’t just divert to a side track for 30 seconds then return to their course as if nothing happened. “Derailment” is kind of a bigger deal than that. For someone so concerned about “reasonable proportion”, it’s a little peculiar to call a 30 second sidetrack – around 0.8% of the total time of that one hangout (not to mention the many other hundreds of hours of media the team produced) – “complete derailment”. One wonders what you would have called a 2 minute diversion – “catastrophic extinction-level event”?

            By a similar token, I’m not sure you actually know what being “raked over the coals” actually entails. Here’s a hint: it’s not just telling someone “dude, that’s not cool, it kinda hurts me that you did that”, then accepting their apology and moving on.

            It’s almost inevitable now that whenever something involving feminism makes the “headlines” in the blogosphere, i’ll hear tons of people like you ranting about how the “SJWs” are “flipping out”, or about much damage the “SJWs” are doing to the world in this way or that… and just as inevitable that when i take the time to look at what *actually* happened (which, really, you’d think more skeptically minded people would do), i find that the accusations against them are complete bullshit. Here again, there you are saying they “completely derailed” a historic moment in science and forced “consequences out of any reasonable proportion” against Dr. Taylor solely for the purpose of “continuing their stupid flame war”… yet when i look, like clockwork, the reality i uncover is nothing like the picture you painted. The posts i see from the people who raised the issue were hurt, upset, and disappointed – not frothing-at-the-mouth enraged, not “flipping out”, and certainly not “flaming” or “trolling” in tone (and, incidentally, i can’t recall seeing a single one call Taylor a misogynist… dare i presume you have a source for that?) – the only “consequences” Taylor faced were that he felt kinda bad and wanted to apologize, the only “derailment” of the moment was a 30 second apology in the middle of an hour-long discussion, and pretty much everyone who had been concerned was satisfied by it and quickly moved on to talking about the mission itself. The people who were creating the shitstorm were *other people*, people who spun the issue up into a sensation because of their hate for the “SJWs” and feminism in general.

            If you were really as concerned about Dr. Taylor and the science as you pretend to be, i would think your beef should be with *those people* – the ones actually freaking out, blowing the whole thing out of proportion, and carrying on like assholes (which includes threatening and harassing the people who spoke up)… not the people who initially pointed out the shirt in calm and reasoned (if somewhat hurt) posts and then happily accepted Taylor’s half-minute apology and moved on.

          • Oh right, it’s just me… no one else noticed any unreasonable stupid.
            http://time.com/3589392/comet-shirt-storm/

            But you know, I did come across this thing today, it’s the reaction of another socalled Social Justice Warrior blog, and I think it is perfect.

            There are no insults.
            There is no name calling.
            There are no personal attacks or character assassination.
            No one gets labeled a horrible person.
            There is no drama.

            http://skepchick.org/2014/11/shirts-for-when-youve-just-landed-a-spacecraft-on-a-comet/

            There is just a perfectly reasonable and measured bit of criticism, followed by a recommendation for future shirt wearing activities.

            Go skepchick. Yay.

            Edit: Oh and linked directly from the time article is this: https://twitter.com/alicebell/status/532865317434032128

          • Indi:

            Thanks for your cogent and reasonable response. I stopped actively participating in this comment thread a while ago, when it became clear that the topic had morphed from a rational discussion of the subject to ranting about the evils of SJWs persecuting scientists, and I wouldn’t even know where to begin to address that.

          • So you have no answer to the question of how the mission was “derailed” either. Colour me unsurprised. In summary, all you’ve got is just a pile of over-the-top assertions made in the most inflammatory language, none of which you can even come close to backing up with actual facts, and none of which actually reflect the reality of the situation. But of course, it’s the “SJWs” who are in the wrong here. Uh huh. Colour me unsurprised; that’s how it always goes when the “SJW’s” make the blog headlines, tons of people raging about how wrong they are, not a damn one who can actually provide solid evidence supporting why.

            I can’t even figure what the reasoning is in the responses you’re offering. After i point out that the enemies of the “SJWs” are distorting the story of what happened and spinning it up into a hyperbolic shitstorm, you respond by… providing a link to one of them doing just that. Because… why? Did you not know that Cathy Young is a long-time enemy of the “SJWs”, and a popular voice among the “men’s rights” movement that is one of their most virulent enemies? A simple Google search would have told you that. (Hell, Ophelia Benson had a post about *that specific Time article*, and how boneheaded it was.)

            Then you start with what reads like a sarcastic hint that the Skepchick link does have “insults”, “name-calling”, “personal attacks”, etc. – or that their piece is not a “perfectly reasonable and measured bit of criticism”. Yet, of course, it has none of those things, and in fact it is indeed a pretty reasonable and measured bit of criticism. It’s tongue in cheek, sure, but so what? Who says reasoned criticism can’t be done with a bit of humour? Besides, those shirts actually are kinda cool – I would totally wear #3, and, hell, I’m a huge Ada fanboy. Hell, even the comments are nice! Is *THAT* link seriously supposed to be evidence that the “SJWs” were raging and flaming and trolling? It just looks to me like a gentle, tongue in cheek poke that points out that one can easily express oneself in many cool ways that don’t involve depicting women as sex objects.

            And finally the tweet, which i presume you think is evidence that an “SJW” did indeed call Taylor a misogynist. Except… that’s not what the tweet says at all. Even on it’s own, it’s clearly not calling him a misogynist – it doesn’t say “… they still can’t see *A* misogyn*IST* under their noses…”, it says “… they still can’t see misogyn*Y*…”. And then the Guardian story goes into much greater detail into exactly what that means, and it’s a very clearly reasoned, and reasonable, argument about pervasive casual sexism. What, did you just see the word “misogyny” and not bother reading any further?

            Were these links supposed to be evidence that i’m wrong, and that the “SJWs” didn’t handle this situation calmly and rationally? If so, they didn’t even come close.

          • >So you have no answer to the question of how the mission was “derailed” either.

            Unless you have some inside info on the new SJ Orbital Weapons Platform, I don’t see them derailing the mission, maybe you should read slower, jumping to so many conclusions that simply are not there it is hard for poor Joe to keep up. And, they did exactly what I said.
            >But of course, it’s the “SJWs” who are in the wrong here.

            Actually if you had read my post…I criticized their opponents too. The fact your sworn enemy is being an asshole doesn’t mean you are not.
            >After i point out that the enemies of the “SJWs” are distorting the story…

            So what? Why should they be ‘free from consequences’? Both sides are professional distorters.
            >Did you not know that Cathy Young is a long-time enemy of the “SJWs”, and a popular voice among the “men’s rights”….(Hell, Ophelia Benson had a post about *that specific Time article*, and how boneheaded it was.)

            Wow, maintaining that level of cognitive dissonance must be tough. So we should ignore what Young wrote, because she is anti-SJ, but Benson… a well known SJ blogger on an SJ blogger network gets a pass on criticism. Just drink the Koolaid and go to sleep? If I get a chance this weekend, I’ll look at Benson’s post, but I’m not going to say I’m the least bit shocked she didn’t like the Time article… I mean… really? You expected different?

            I should note, I don’t read Benson’s blog, but in the great feminist flame war of the last few years she is hardly an unbiased observer.

            As to skepchick, I think you need to check your confirmation bias, I was not being sarcastic, I was using the SC post as a contrast to the nastiness detailed in the Time article. Oh, I think the SC shirts are stupid too, but the post itself was fair and balanced.

            On that note, the resemblance between shirtgate and elevatorgate is pretty telling. In both cases a rather innocuous incident exploded into a flame war between two online troll factions.

            >And finally the tweet, which i presume you think is evidence that an “SJW” did indeed call Taylor a misogynist. Except… that’s not what the tweet says at all. Even on it’s own, it’s clearly not calling him a misogynist – it doesn’t say “… they still can’t see *A* misogyn*IST* under their noses…”, it says “… they still can’t see misogyn*Y*…”.

            Interesting, I was wondering which tactic you would choose, moving the goal posts, after I gave you what you asked for… or just shift to a pedantic wordform argument.
            Congrats, I was leaning towards the goal post thing, you are full of surprises.
            >And then the Guardian story goes into much greater detail into exactly what that means, and it’s a very clearly reasoned, and reasonable, argument about pervasive casual sexism. What, did you just see the word “misogyny” and not bother reading any further?

            No, I actually spent an evening on twitter looking through the BS on both sides instead of just googling keywords after the fact, like you appear to have done.

  3. @Indi

    A couple of quick things.

    Because, from where I’m sitting, the only consequences Taylor has faced were being called “stupid” for wearing the “stupid shirt”… which not only seems eminently reasonable, it seems downright obvious and natural…

    I’d be interested to know exactly why you think that, unless you’re saying he was stupid in the same sense (though not, of course, to the same degree) that I’d be pretty stupid to walk around downtown Riyadh in a shirt saying “There is no god but Cthulhu and Lovecraft is his prophet” in impeccable Arabic. I think Taylor’s shirt was maybe a bit tacky and juvenile, given the cartoonish look of the women depicted on it, but that’s not quite the same thing as “stupid”.

    To clarify, pretty much everyone who called Taylor out for the shirt – the so-called “social justice warriors” – accepted the apology and moved on. The continuing hullabaloo has *absolutely nothing to do with that*. It is all freaking out by *other people* targeting the “SJWs” simply because they hate everything about the “SJWs”…

    Or because they feel that the criticism of Taylor was silly/mean-spirited/puritanical/unfair, and the people doing the criticising (unlike Taylor) have yet to back down and apologise. The “SJWs”, if you want to call them that, have less incentive to continue the argument because they won a major, humiliating concession (and yes, it’s humiliating to end up tearfully apologising on television, whether or not the apology is sincere) and were able to declare victory.

    • If you really want to get pedantic and ignore the actual context of the issue to focus just on the words “stupid shirt”, i suppose it’s your time to waste. However, you should direct your question at Joe. The term “stupid shirt” is his; i just quoted it because he used it and said he had no problem calling it such.

      As for the other part, i would point out that if it were true that the backlash against the “SJWs” was actually based on a legitimate concern about how they were unfair, the critics have done a shit-tastic job of making their case. When the “SJWs” criticized the shirt, they went into great (and quite well-reasoned) detail about *precisely* why it was a problem, as well as offering suggestions on how to rectify the problem and prevent it from reoccurring. For two examples of that, check out Joe’s links, ironically. One is a link to the Skepchicks showing that self-expression can be done without being degrading to disadvantaged minorities (which women are in STEM), and the other is a link to a tweet about a Guardian piece describing the issues in detail.

      However… the *critics* have neither offered a coherent or cogent argument for why the “SJWs” are wrong, nor have they made any suggestions about how it could have been done better besides basically just “shut the hell up”. Again, just look to Joe’s links for evidence. Compare Alice Bell’s piece with Cathy Young’s. Bell’s is a very well-reasoned argument about why the shirt was particularly inappropriate in a STEM context, going so far as to quote published research to back her claims up. Young’s is just shrill raging, finger-pointing, and non sequiturs. Her thesis appears to be nothing more than “these feminists are pissing me off”, with absolutely nothing even *approaching* a cogent justification for why there’s anything objectively wrong with what they’re doing, and even going so far as to cap it all off by calling the “SJWs” “bullies”.

      No, sorry, this is not a case where one group made a coherent, legitimate criticism, then another group followed up with their own coherent, legitimate criticism. This is a case where one group made a coherent, legitimate criticism, then another group followed up by screaming “SHITCOCK!” at the first group as loudly as they could. Claiming that they’re raging because they have a legitimate grievance against the “SJWs” is as ridiculous as claiming “GamerGate” is about journalism ethics.

      • However, you should direct your question at Joe. The term “stupid shirt” is his; i just quoted it because he used it and said he had no problem calling it such.

        Okay, but you went on to call Taylor an “idiot” for wearing the shirt. That’s your word, not Joe’s. Where lieth the idiocy?

        Compare Alice Bell’s piece with Cathy Young’s. Bell’s is a very well-reasoned argument about why the shirt was particularly inappropriate in a STEM context, going so far as to quote published research to back her claims up. Young’s is just shrill raging, finger-pointing, and non sequiturs.

        My impression of those articles is pretty much the exact opposite. Bell insinuates that The Shirt (I think the capitals are justified, by now) is “sexist” and even an example of “misogyny”, without attempting to explain why she thinks those words are warranted. There’s little reasoning in her piece, and much assertion and vaguely expressed discomfort. She complains about things, but doesn’t bother to spell out what’s actually wrong with them. Young, on the other hand, makes a clear and specific argument for the shirt’s inoffensiveness:

        “If a scientist gives an interview in a custom-made T-shirt with a photo of his wife and kids, is he telling women their sole purpose in life is babymaking? To suggest that a heterosexual man is incapable of seeing women both as sexual beings and as people is insulting to men and rather sad for women—a feminist version, if you will, of the old Madonna/whore complex (call it the bimbo/brain complex).”

        In my opinion this is exactly correct. Unless one perceives sexuality as somehow inherently filthy and demeaning, images of scantily clad hotties are not “degrading” (to use your word) even to those specific hotties, let alone to women in general. If Bell and her fellow anti-Shirters are really concerned about eliminating sexism, rather than simply trying to make public discourse more prissy and sanitised than it is already, they’re choosing their targets poorly and inflicting a lot of needless collateral damage. That’s an entirely “legitimate grievance” against them, even if it sometimes leads to raging, finger-pointing and the rest of it. At this point one can’t blame people for being pretty damn exasperated.

        Regarding your comment to Theo Bromine about women in STEM facing serious crap, I agree that this happens – anyone working in STEM fields has probably seen examples – and I agree that pushing for change is worthwhile. But conflating irreverence, playful innuendo and risque imagery with actual sexism dilutes and discredits efforts to address the latter.

  4. @Theo Bromine

    I can’t blame you for being frustrated. We’re supposed to be believers in reason and observation, yet whenever the “SJWs” get mentioned, what we get instead are people repeating completely specious bullshit that they “heard” or – worse – that they just “feel”, never once bothering to verify that any of it has any basis in reality. I don’t even object to the stuff that’s just emotional raging at them or whining about them – people are free to have their own opinions. What bugs me is when people start repeating a meme about how the “SJWs” did this or that even though a few minutes on Google proves that none of it is true, and it was just made up by their enemies and repeated uncritically by people you’d hope would know better. Savvy enough to be aware that when people repeat the “atheists are angry” or “atheists have no morals” memes they’re just propagating baseless crap – the fact that a lie is repeated many times does not make it true… but apparently incapable of recognizing the *EXACT* same thing being done to the “SJWs”. Definitely frustrating.

    I’ll be honest, i don’t intend to make a habit out of defending the “SJWs”, because it’s just so damn wearing (i can’t even imagine how wearing it must be to actually be one of the more public targets). And let’s face it, the hate against them is *not* based on reality, but rather visceral emotion, and reasoning someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into is a pain in the ass. The reason I spoke up here is because STEM is *my* domain, and being “in the biz”, I have seen enough casual (and not-so-casual) sexism, and known enough women colleagues who have faced some *serious* crap, that I was personally wounded to see that casual sexism is still so pervasive at that level. I was *glad* that the shirt was called out, and even happier that Taylor apologized (and he sure as hell seemed to be sincere, so I’d like to think that he feels the same way I do… in fact, I could very easily see myself in his position, where I’d fucked up and worn something stupid and sexist without realizing it then felt like a complete buttwipe when I belatedly did). It all seemed to work out beautifully… until the haters who always start shit whenever the “SJWs” dare to speak out started raging.

    It would be nice if we could just rely on people to base their opinions of the “SJWs” and their actions on what they’d actually done, rather than on uninformed opinions or crap repeated from their haters.

    • “What bugs me is when people start repeating a meme about how the “SJWs” did this or that even though a few minutes on Google proves that none of it is true”

      I think you answered your own question. You have to spend more than a “few minutes on google” to see the phenomenon that Joe is speaking of. Spend some time on twitter or the comments section of PZ Myers’.

      • Yeah, right, sure, hanging around Twitter will suddenly provide clarity on how the entire Rosetta project was “completely derailed” when actually following the Rosetta project shows the opposite. And reading the stuff Myers’s followers write will make it possible to see how Dr. Taylor suffered “emotional damage” and “consequences out of any reasonable proportion” when actually looking at what Taylor himself is saying and doing shows no such thing. And I suppose next you’ll tell me if I read the Bible again, it will suddenly make sense, too!

  5. Once more into the breach…

    STEM is my domain too. I’ve been a science/tech geek as long as I can remember, and first started facing crap about it in high school when my vice principal said that it was inappropriate for me as a girl to take electronics. (Inappropriate or not, I went on to get a degree in electrical engineering, and spent the next 32 years in the hitech sector facing what I can happily say was a consistently decreasing level of crap.)

    Corwin: It seems that you think it is a mistake to conflate “irreverence, playful innuendo and risque imagery with actual sexism”.

    I have no idea what you mean by “irreverence”, but I certainly do not see any place for “playful innuendo and risque imagery” in a STEM *work environment*. And though women are the clearest target for this sort of behaviour, there are certainly others who are also made to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome by it.

    The key phrase here is *work environment*. As far as I am concerned, it would be fine for Taylor to wear that shirt on the beach or to the pub. The problem is when he wears it to work, and especially when his work is on public display.

    • I am curious, I assume you watched the coverage, where the female scientist spontaneously hugged the reporter…. was that assault? Is hugging random people without consent appropriate workplace behaviour?

      I should note, I have no problem with what she did, it was inappropriate, but I would hardly hold it against her, even in a work environment, and especially in such an emotionally charged moment.

      • Physical contact should be consensual. How to define “consent” is a can of worms perhaps best left for another time.However, if that reporter was made to feel uncomfortable, he is well within his rights to complain and the scientist should apologize.

        That being said, a hug is not necessarily a sexual advance. Plenty of hugging goes on between people who do not have and/or will never have a sexual relationship.

        • I agree consent is complicated and I saw nothing sexual, she was just happy. And the reporter did not react badly, but I also didn’t see any mra’s going after her, on his behalf. Truth is, I’ve been in a number of uncomfortable workplace situations myself. Not rocking the boat is often a matter of survival. But also, in my experience while there might be a company policy that says x, what is actually acceptable is a negotiation within teams/departments. If shirtguy had gotten complaints from his coworkers about the shirt, I would absolutely expect him to apologize. The twitter dome complainers, as far as I can tell, were not his coworkers, this is why I find the vicarious offence so ridiculous. I mean, religious people on twitter, and anti-gun people on twitter could also claim his shirt offensive. But I don’t give a shit about them either.

    • I have no idea what you mean by “irreverence”, but I certainly do not see any place for “playful innuendo and risque imagery” in a STEM *work environment*.

      On reflection, what I meant by “irreverence” is pretty well redundant with the “playful innuendo” part, so let’s not worry about the former.

      Unless you expect STEM workers to keep their mouths shut about anything not directly job-related in professional situations, and forego decorating their desks and office doors, they’re occasionally going to express themselves in ways that their colleagues find troubling, off-putting or annoying. If there are some prudes around who feel “uncomfortable and unwelcome” when confronted with a bawdy joke or a shirt covered in pictures of scantily-clad women, I really don’t see why their prudery should be taken any more seriously than, say, an animal-lover’s distaste for hearing about a weekend hunting trip or a Christian reactionary’s discomfort on seeing a photo from someone’s gay wedding. Getting along with people in either professional or non-professional settings requires a bit of tolerance, a bit of give and take.

      In that spirit, I think people who really have a problem with sexually suggestive humour and imagery should be reasonably accommodated by their colleagues – but that’s a situation to be worked out on an individual basis, not pre-empted by trying to bowdlerise all workplaces everywhere. Like Joe, I’d take complaints about The Shirt a lot more seriously if they were coming from people who actually work with Taylor and don’t have the option of sparing themselves any discomfort resulting from his sartorial preferences simply by changing the bloody channel.

      Of course, I’m aware that many employers – as well as, apparently, the American Astronomical Society – want to enforce standards that are considerably more puritanical than the ones I’d prefer. Fighting that battle isn’t a priority for me, but I’d certainly welcome a good hard swing of the pendulum towards greater tolerance for sexually-flavoured expression. In the meantime, I’m only going to applaud people like Matt Taylor when they push the envelope in various ways.

      • OK, I have to say I am with the AAS Rocket Scientists here, and at a complete loss to understand the benefit of having “sexual-flavoured expression” in the workplace. Yes, I do think it is completely reasonable to expect workers to use restraint in deciding what to put up on their walls, desks, and doors. No, I don’t think that workers (of whatever gender) should be expected to tolerate bawdy jokes. A culture of sexual expression (likely to be cis- and hetero- normative) can be very uncomfortable for people who are not in the norm, sexually, culturally or socially. Why should they be expected to cope with this in the workplace when it is not related to their job function?

        But back to the shirt, here’s a quote from an astronomer writing at (http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/its-not-about-that-damn-shirt.html)
        “He was going on global TV to talk about history-making science. I don’t know how you show up for work that day wearing anything but a mission t-shirt or a suit and tie.”

        • My guess is, and I really have no information here, he was trying to break the stereotype of uptight and boring lab coat wearing science nerd, thus the science tattoo… Similar to how Bill Nye has taken to inappropriate swearing and Neil DT uses his natural excitement and expansive gestures, that some cultures might see as rude. Anyone familiar with anime, superhero costumes and cosplay in general (things that are becoming much more mainstream and ‘cool’) would probably recognize this sort of art. Would a less provocative shirt… Like the ones SC suggested have been wiser? Sure, but this was his birthday present, a friend made, probably his favourite shirt, and he wanted to celebrate an important day… So he made a simple mistake that got international notice. That’s the way I read it anyway.

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