Here’s one collection of all the clichés about The Shirt, written by Glenn Reynolds aka Instapundit. It could have been written by Christina Hoff Sommers or Richard Dawkins or Brendan O’Neill or any other hack Limbaugh-lite opinion-giver.
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.
No we didn’t. Not “all about.” That’s just typical hack cliché hyperbole.
Yes, that’s right. After years of effort, the European Space Agency’s lander Philaelanded on a comet 300 million miles away. At first, people were excited. Then some women noticed that one of the space scientists, Matt Taylor, was wearing a shirt, made for him by a female “close pal,” featuring comic-book depictions of semi-naked women. And suddenly, the triumph of the comet landing was drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage about . . . what people were wearing. It was one small shirt for a man, one giant leap backward for womankind.
Again – no. The triumph of the comet landing was not drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage. That didn’t happen. That’s not what did happen. It wasn’t like that.
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.
Again – no. There was no lynch mob. I don’t know, and I don’t think Glenn Reynolds does, that Matt Taylor was forced to apologize. I don’t know what happened that led him to apologize. For all I know he learned of the reaction and felt bad about the shirt entirely of his own volition. In fact I think his emotion and body language indicate the opposite of having been forced. I think if he’d really been ordered to apologize and had seen no merit in the objections to his wearing the shirt, his emotion and body language would have been very different – spiky, angry, defiant. I think even if he had simply thought the objections were stupid, while still agreeing that for the sake of the mission he should apologize – he wouldn’t have been upset in that way.
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?
Check, check, check – more clichés ticked. Feminists are “so delicate”; they “can’t handle” the tiniest little thing; the shirt was just “pictures of comic book women”; they need “fainting couches.” One honking banality after another.
Meanwhile, Time Magazine last week ran an online poll of words that should be retired from the English language. The winner — by an enormous margin — was “feminist.” That’s fitting. With this sort of behavior in mind, it’s no surprise that so many people feel that feminism has passed its sell-by date.
And we should go back to treating women as consumer objects for men without anybody making a stink about it. The dream of Utopia.