Guest post: Would he smile approvingly?

Originally a comment by themadtapper on A complaint to HR would be valid.

The thing that completely blows my mind about the whole ordeal is that in ANY professional context that shirt would be considered unprofessional at best and outright inappropriate in almost every case. And people like Richard Dawkins know damn well it would be. If Dawkins went to a speaking engagement at Oxford and a fellow speaker showed up wearing a shirt like that, would he smile approvingly? I very seriously doubt it. At the very least he’d give it a sigh and a shake of his head, but most likely he’d ask the speaker to please not go out on stage like that.

The only reason anyone at all is stirred up is that FEMINISTS pointed out that it’s inappropriate. They’re only defending the shirt because feminists disapprove of it. In essence, they’re not even defending the shirt; they’re opposing feminists. Which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. If feminists are against it and it isn’t literal physical violence or perpetrated by Muslims, then it de facto must be something that’s blown out of proportion. Ironically, it’s always the anti-feminists that blow the issue out of proportion. Feminists say “that shirt is highly inappropriate and contributes to the negative stereotypes that make woman uncomfortable in STEM fields”, anti-feminists say “feminists are BULLYING this poor man over his clothes, no make that ATTACKING him over his clothes, no wait they are WAGING WAR over a shirt”. They come out of the woodwork to defend the man, and no insignificant amount of them run active campaigns of harassment and threats against women who dared to voice their opinion on what is and isn’t appropriate attire. And “deep-thinkers” like Dawkins will lament how far feminists have fallen that they would make such a mountain out of a molehill.



  1. says

    I worked in a tech/engineering environment from (including summer student jobs) the late 70s until earlier this year. At the start of my career, there would invariably be a cheesecake poster or calendar on a wall somewhere in the office or lab. But sometime in the early 90s they just disappeared. Presumably not coincidentally, this was the time when anti-harassment policies, together with training thereon as part of new-hire orientation, and later refreshed annually, started to become the norm in the corporate world. I’m pretty sure that shirt wouldn’t have been permissible office wear any place I worked in the past 20+ years — it would be in the same category as T-shirts bearing rude words.

    Maybe things have been a little laxer at the ESA than in the North American telecom biz, but Dawkins and the idiots throwing the (unasked-for) pity party for Taylor can hardly be unaware that much of the world already repudiated that sort of thing, a very long time ago. Bullying? Hell, just asking ESA to catch up with the times.

  2. says

    But sometime in the early 90s they just disappeared.

    Around the time that corporations’ legal departments started hearing about “hostile workplace” lawsuits. Coincidence!

  3. carlie says

    I wondered yesterday, when reading more about the whole “oh, you made him cry” business, what it would take for them to have the same reaction towards a woman who was receiving harassment. Death threats? No, they say “toughen up”. Doxxing? No, they say “that’s just the internet”. PSTD inducement? No, they say “that’s just a few outliers”. Then I thought “it would probably take a woman actually being attacked and killed for them to take it seriously”. Then I realized that even then, they wouldn’t. They’d say “the guy who did that was crazy and not one of us”. I just don’t even know.

  4. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    What if he was a woman and had dressed like the women on his shirt?

    That said, I think folk need to lay off Taylor and concentrate on the Slymepitters at this point. Unless you have been the target of an Internet shitstorm, you have no idea what it is like. He apologized for wearing the shirt, that should have been the end of it. Only the slymepitters want to keep the controversy going because for them its all about standing up for sexism and sexists.

  5. doubtthat says

    Here’s my plan for a false-flag attack:

    We convince all the dunderheads that the proper way to protest this absurd violation of rights is for all the pro-stupid shirt people to purchase and wear a similar shirt (perhaps we design a couple, put them up for sale, all proceeds going to organizations promoting women in STEM) to their place of work.

    I feel bad for all the HR folks that would have to deal with the chaos, but team Stupid Shirt may learn a valuable lesson.

    Of course, it may backfire as suspensions and firings would just give these folks more time to harass women on the internet…

  6. doubtthat says

    @3 carlie

    Has there been any statement from Taylor about why he was emotional? All the usual suspects have concluded it was a result of the HORRIFIC HALF DOZEN SLIGHTLY SARCASTIC TWEETS!!!!, but watching it, I think he could legitimately have just felt bad about his shirt and language that day.

  7. smhll says

    We convince all the dunderheads that the proper way to protest this absurd violation of rights is for all the pro-stupid shirt people to purchase and wear a similar shirt (perhaps we design a couple, put them up for sale, all proceeds going to organizations promoting women in STEM) to their place of work.

    I read the blog put up by the friend of Matt Taylor’s who made the shirt out of pinup fabric. There has been a small surge of interest from the “You can’t tell me what to wear” crowd who would think the shirt is rad and want to wear something that gaudy just (apparently) to annoy feminists. However she mentioned that the materials for the first shirt cost 45 pounds. So I doubt there will be any kind of profit to be made on the shirts, unless she can buy fabric wholesale and automate her sewing more intensively.

    I’ll add that she seemed like a nice person. She wasn’t breathing fire and belching smoke like our critics are inclined to do. (I didn’t wade through all the comments.)

    I have hesitated to bring it up during the heat of the controversy, but now I want to ask, would most atheist or geeky conference anti-harassment policies cover semi-nude pictures on clothing? We can maybe anticipate a few people trying it on in the months to come.

    A conference is a workplace for some people in the field and for the hotel staff as well.

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