At Slate: Phil Plait on The Shirt and the fallout after The Shirt and the apology and the moving on.
To be clear, I don’t think Taylor is a raging misogynist or anything like that; I think he was just clueless about how his words might sound and his shirt might be interpreted. We all live in an atmosphere steeped in sexism, and we hardly notice it; a fish doesn’t notice the water in which it swims. I’ve lived in that environment my whole life, and I was well into adulthood before I started becoming aware of it and figuring out how to counter it. I’m still learning.
*raises hand* I notice it!
Boy do I notice it. I so notice it. I’ve been noticing it my whole adult life, and somewhat even before I was an adult. That’s why I get called all these names: for noticing it, and then saying I notice it, and saying what it is and what’s bad about it. I notice it I notice it I notice it. I notice the water.
And then came the backlash.
If you think this is just women complaining, you’re wrong. Certainly many have, and rightly so. But the fact is, I’m writing about it. I can point you to many men, friends of mine, scientists and science communicators all, who have spoken up about it. It’s important that men speak up, and it’s important that we listen, too.
If you think this is just complaining from wannabes who can’t hold a candle to someone who just landed a probe on a comet, you’re wrong. Talk to my friend, the cosmologist Katie Mack. Or the planetary scientist Sarah Horst. Or geologist Mika McKinnon. Or planetary geologist Emily Lakdawalla. Or radio astronomer Nicole Gugliucci. Or professor and science communicator extraordinaire Pamela Gay. Or Carolyn Porco, who worked on the Voyagermission and is the leader of the Cassini imaging team, the space probe that’s been orbiting Saturn for over a decade now.
If you think this is just pompous idiots, see above. Richard Dawkins please note.
If you think this isn’t a big deal, well, by itself, it’s not a huge one. But it’s not by itself, is it? This event didn’t happen in a vacuum. It comes when there is still a tremendously leaky pipeline for women from undergraduate science classes to professional scientist. It comes when having a female name on a paper makes it less likely to get published, and cited less. It comes when there is still not even close to parity in hiring and retaining women in the sciences.
So yeah, it’s just a shirt.
And it’s just an ad.
It’s just a saying.
It’s just a TV show.
It’s just the Internet.
Yes, but you almost make as much as a man does.
It’s just a catcall.
It’s a compliment!
It’s just that boys will be boys.
It’s just that she’s a slut.
It’s just that your dress is too short.
It’s just that we want to know what you were wearing at the time, ma’am.
It’s just it’s just it’s just.
It’s just a death by a thousand cuts. No one cut does the deed. In the end, they all do.