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The #ShirtStorm and Its Double Standard November 18, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in feminism, research, science.
Tags: #shirtstorm, , matt taylor, misogyny, philae,

I was a bit distracted and didn’t notice Matt Taylor’s shirt until today.  Now that I have seen it and thought about it, I’d like to say that I think the people who are upset are wrong.  Here’s why:

  • How many women get picked on because of the clothes they wear or how they do their hair?  If you missed it, this happens all the time while men get a free pass.  We usually say that making commentary on women’s attire is a crappy thing to do…so how come we’re doing it to a guy?  Treating a guy the way a woman normally is treated doesn’t make it okay…it means we shouldn’t be doing it to anyone!  I seriously would love to wear a similarly styled shirt with Wonder Woman on it…but I know I shouldn’t because I would be judged very harshly.  Why can’t we make it okay for everyone?
  • Most people I know believe that women should be allowed to wear whatever they want without being sexualized.  How many of those same people don’t like the shirt because the drawings are revealing?  Is a woman’s body supposed to be sexualized or not?  (That being said, anyone who thinks it was okay for him to wear that shirt, particularly if they’re defending it as “nerd culture” but expect women to dress or not dress certain ways is just as bad as the other side.)
  • If a woman should be allowed to wear what she wants without having conclusions drawn about her, why is it okay to draw conclusions that the guy wearing that shirt is inherently misogynist?
  • Why should scientists be held to a different standard of dress?  I keep seeing this business about how scientists ought to dress more professionally.  Says who?  Scientists don’t need dress codes any more than high school students do.  Scientists already have an image problem: people think of us as stuffy people who always wear lab coats.  I’m glad someone was excited and NOT being boring.  Science is cool stuff!

I do realize that much of the upset may be the power dynamic in STEM fields: there are far more men than women, and women are so very often not taken seriously.  There is also the potential that something like this could be used to make women feel uncomfortable.  (I don’t get the sense that this was the case, however, but I see the potential for it going wrong.)  Ideally, one of his colleagues might have been kind enough to point out that some people may take the shirt the wrong way.  As that didn’t happen, however, I don’t think the answer is to apply a set of standards to men when we are already complaining that they are unfair to women.  Likewise, I hope that all the folks defending him aren’t ever going to turn around and accuse a woman of dressing inappropriately.

Personally Matt, I wasn’t crazy about the shirt.  Like I said, I prefer Wonder Woman.



1. xykademiqz - November 24, 2014

Yeah. The shirt itself for me was meh. Sadly, even the hullabaloo afterwards was meh. I think a person just gets desensitized. It seems there is constantly some misogynistic $hit or other going on on the web. I don’t have the emotional energy to engage at all.

2. nicoleandmaggie - November 26, 2014

Re: that second point, this tweet explains the flaw in logic pretty darn well:

mareserinitatis - November 26, 2014

Is it a secure account? Can’t read it. :/

nicoleandmaggie - November 26, 2014


Here’s copying and pasting the substance:

Feminists: Women can do what they want w/ their bodies.
Men: I can do what I want w/ women’s bodies? Feminists: no

mareserinitatis - November 26, 2014

I think that’s a simplistic take on the issue. What if he’d been wearing a shirt covered with Wonder Woman? Most people might’ve been more ok with that or even found it empowering because she’s somewhat a symbol for female empowerment despite not wearing much more than the woman in the shirt. What if she’d been wearing a burka? What if she’d been breast feeding? What if the woman on the shirt was Marilyn Monroe in the white dress? Cat woman? Daisy Duke? Scarlett O’Hara? His girlfriend?! Is the problem simply that it’s a man wearing the shirt or is it an issue of people sexualizing women’s bodies and therefore the women on the shirt were dressed the wrong way? I see it more as an issue of wanting to control women (making sure they are appropriate) in this case and not so much a ‘power move’ where a man is attempting to do what he wants with a woman’s body. And people who feel women need to dress a certain way to be considered respectable don’t feel comfortable with deviations from acceptable dress…and may also feel the same about anyone who wears that shirt, male or female. I realize there are other takes on this, but the reason I argued this way is because I feel it’s the most logically consistent though I also reecognize that inherent power dynamics confuse the issue.

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