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  1. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Matt Taylor's "sexist" shirt

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by thirdwind, Nov 15, 2014.

    I'm sure most of you know about the Philae lander and how it landed on a comet earlier this week (amazing if you ask me). One of the scientists on the team, Matt Taylor, stirred up some controversy during an interview because he was wearing a shirt with pictures of women in bikinis. This offended some people, and they took to social media to say he's sexist and all that. Taylor later apologized for wearing that shirt. If you want more info or want to see pictures, just search for "Matt Taylor shirt."

    Here's my problem. I don't think that shirt was sexist at all, and no apology was necessary. Yes, it was unprofessional of him to wear a shirt like that, but I don't have a problem with what was on the shirt in this case. Aside from all the hate he's getting, what bothered me was that some people cared more about his shirt than the fact he helped land something on a tiny comet moving tens of thousands of miles an hour. Look, I'm all for gender equality, but when some people call something like this sexism, it bothers me. There are actual gender inequality problems out there, and using this as an example of gender inequality just makes me take you less seriously. In my opinion, people are getting offended by this shirt for no reason.

    If you want examples of women being objectified, just look all around you. Turn on the TV, watch a music video, or glance through a Victoria's Secret catalog. There are plenty of examples where women actually are being treated unfairly, but Taylor's shirt isn't one of them. Now, I can certainly agree that gender inequality is a problem in STEM fields. These fields need to be more accessible/inviting to women, but if you're a woman looking to be an engineer or a scientist, you shouldn't let a shirt stop you.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, that is just ridiculous. Firstly the patterning of the shirt is so raucous that I had to stare for a full minute before the first bikini clad gal came into focus. This is sexist, but Kim Kardashian's giant Photoshopped ass and fake boobs isn't? Not to spin this to social awkwardness and ineptitude, but I can actually excuse the guy for wearing the shirt. He's in a field known for individuals focused on the science of the tech, not the science of social interaction or appropriateness. Kim knows exactly what she's doing because she's got little else to offer.
     
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  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hummm... well, I'm kind of torn. One the one hand, I hear your argument, and yes, things can get overblown, and he did seem to genuinely feel bad about wearing the shirt.

    But,
    According to this article: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/rosetta-scientist-matt-taylor-is-really-sorry-about-his-shirt
    I don't think the remark pointing out the problem is overblown.

    There really is a LOT of sexism in STEM fields. Of course, you wouldn't "let a shirt stop you" from pursuing a career in STEM. But it's one more micro-aggression.
    I don't think the initial tweet pointing this out is so bad. It's not saying, damn him -- how dare he own this shirt? It's pointing out, yeah, this is how it is in STEM fields.
     
  4. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anyone landing something that sounds that much like philanderer should be wearing at least that sort of shirt.
     
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  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    If he were wearing a shirt depicting white actors in blackface, with the exaggerated minstrel-show characters all over it, would you say black people shouldn't let a shirt stop them from working in STEM?
     
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  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's different. Blackface is an offensive caricature. Girls wear bikinis. I could literally go down to the beach right now and get you photos.

    Plus the shirt looks more artistic than anything. People cry too much.

    Sexism does still exist to some extent in STEM, but I would not say in this form.
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was referring more to the comment that women shouldn't 'let a shirt' stop them from pursuing a career in STEM. That's easy to say.
    I didn't intend to imply that both shirts would be, in and of themselves, equally offensive, so I should have made that more clear.

    But, it's not really fair to say that micro-aggressions should be ignored or aren't harmful. They are things that minorities and women deal with every day, and they add up.

    Again, the original tweet that apparently kicked this all off was just pointing that out. The controversy itself may have gotten much bigger from there, and I'm sure there are people who took it too far. But pointing out this particular micro-aggression is valid.

    Some of the comments on the infamous "sexy lady Ph.D." costume show that sexism is alive and well in STEM (and elsewhere).


    @123456789 - although I've seen you around here, quite a bit, I don't actually know much about you. Are you a woman working in a STEM field? I'd like to know more about what forms of sexism you find there that are different from "this form," as I'm not certain what you mean.
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, I'm going to change my stance here to one of being offended by myself.

    Here is a clear case of unimportant, social justice warriors, overstepping their bounds. This is an educated man, making scientific achievements. He's not in the white house. He's not in the hospital. He's a scientist, people that are known for lacking social grace and for being eccentric. That is an eccentric shirt. It's not a Hooters shirt. It's not a playboy shirt. It's a gaudy shirt worn by a guy covered with space tattoos. These people who sit there on the internet and get offended, what exactly are THEY contributing to society?
     
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  9. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I work in STEM not a woman though.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I have to agree with this:
    But I have a less than objective view given previous experience with a certain group of SJWs.

    There is lingering sexism in a lot of STEM fields. But I don't think this is the 50s where the sexism was rampant in most academics. We have made significant progress. Attacking every little gesture detracts from where the real effort should be made: equal hiring, promotions, and pay equity deserve attention. Contrived offense at a shirt, not so much. If the shirt is worn by some guy that gropes, or makes offensive comments on the job, that sort of thing, fine, he should be called out.

    The problem I have is the attempt to completely neuter the workplace. It dilutes the real issues by including any and everything sexual and that ends up sweeping a lot of benign in with the offensive.
     
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  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe not as much as some, but it looks to me like a respectable enough amount, (more than a lot of others), at least according to her online resume:
    http://roseveleth.com/resume/srt-resume.html

    I'm curious about the opinions of the women you work with.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I have some experience with this issue and the women I see are split, some for and some against the SJWs on this issue. One or two bad apples are used as examples to claim the whole barrel is bad and some of us recognize the whole barrel is not rotten.
     
  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of them didn't want to use her being a woman to help her get the NSF fellowship (though I suggested she should) because she claims "she hasn't experienced sexism in the field." Sexism happens, but not it's not so much sexual aggression. You got to understand. Most of these guys are nerds. It's not going to be anything lewd.
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree that a line should be drawn somewhere, but this shirt doesn't even come close to crossing that line. What if he had mentioned that his favorite song was a rap song that degrades women? What if he had showed us his office full of posters of women in bikinis? Are women really going to let those things stop them from pursuing a STEM career? There are much more serious issues that women face in the workplace, and in comparison, this is a very minor issue. Honestly, more than anything else, I'm upset that he felt the need to apologize.
     
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  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate to disagree with you, @GingerCoffee, because I agree so much with what you say. Now, I have to preface this with the acknowledgement that I have not been following this issue, so I don't know what's been said when others piled on after the initial tweet.

    And I don't doubt that there are a bunch of SJWs who piled on and went nuts.

    But I think it's important to call out these micro-aggressions. Not all sexism is as blatant as the offensive comments, groping, etc. Lots of these an add up to a less than pleasant work environment (and can even lead to the larger things). Most people (certainly not all) are smart enough to refrain from doing something really blatant that would get them fired or sued. But you can do plenty of things that just show in small ways that certain folks are not welcome, or are thought less of, or are not seen as truly a part of the "in" group. And they can take their toll.

    I'm totally willing to accept that this guy meant no offense by the shirt, and probably didn't even realize others would take offense. (Especially if he's working only with a bunch of other men, or maybe with one or two women, who probably wouldn't say anything to him, because they know otherwise he's a decent guy, or because they have to work with him, and they don't want to be known as the woman who's always offended.)

    I think raising awareness of all these little things in society is important.
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Being completely honest, I don't see what the fuss is about. It's a shirt.

    In fact, actually no I change my mind, I think this is a scientific discovery. We have actually reached the lowest amount a person can give a shit about something. And it is found in me and my attitude to that shirt. Work on me, scientists!

    Honestly, the human race really needs to grow up. It's pathetic.
     
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  17. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    But, I don't think it's okay to just say to excuse the sexism just because the guys are nerds or are socially awkward. That's all the more reason to raise awareness.

    Again, though, they add up. What if you're the only woman in the group, and every guy wears this shirt, listens to degrading rap songs, has bikini posters in the office -- does all of these things. And the choice is just to become "one of the guys" or just suck it up? Now, yes, there are bigger problems. And certainly there has been tremendous progress made over the last 60 years. There is no question about that. And sure, sometimes even I enjoy some music or jokes or some sort of entertainment that is sexist or racist or is somehow unfairly degrading of some particular group of people.
    But when you're a member of the target group, and those little aggressions and conveyances of attitude are everywhere and completely permeate the culture, it is damaging to feelings of self-worth and is really, just a general downer. Does that stop a lot of people? Not necessarily. Certainly there are many, many people who persevere through it and suck it up. For many, there's really no other choice. But, just like we're kind of shocked by some of the ads now that were shown in the 1960s, we can be shocked later on by just how many of these little digs and elements of "othering" occur now in many fields.
     
  18. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I saw those pictures. I was very disappointed.
     
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  19. 123456789
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    I've seen next to no stem guys who fit the description of your example. Like I said , these guys are nerds which means they've been raised to follow rules and respect everyone. When girls walk by in baby shorts, almost none of them even appear to ever notice :0. They're nice guys. The sexism comes in more with the older generations and has to do more with whose voice is heard. And I would say its subtle and thankfully infrequent.
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    They were photoshopped into Rob Liefeld anatomical impossibility.
     
  21. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Ok, seriously guys, what sexism?

    Many males like female beasts enough to put them onto t-shirts. And then wear the t-shirts. That is not sexism. It's not even sex.
     
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  22. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Exactly. I think the real issue here is the public's disregard for and lack of appreciation of hard working scientists.
     
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  23. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    It seems to me some people need to pick their battles better. Ones that matter, just as a suggestion.
     
  24. GingerCoffee
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    First, it's fine that you disagree. This is an issue that splits a lot of intelligent women I know and I don't think any less of them for their positions. I might think less of them given the bigger picture, but not for a different POV on this kind of thing.

    I'm not offended by the shirt.

    As for rap lyrics, some video games and someone's preferred novels or movies/TV programs, it depends. They don't necessarily define the person. My son played Grand Theft Auto, I bought it for him at his request and he couldn't be more opposite of violent and sexist.

    On the other hand, I understand the objection to saturating young people's lives with sexism, rape culture, and trivialized violence.

    You have to look at the bigger picture.

    If the guy was a sexist, if his colleagues confirmed that, if there was blatant sexism on the comet lander team, fine, then condemn the shirt. But one shirt, by itself, is not an indication of an offensive work environment. We need to be careful to not assume guilt by association because it makes people discount the SJWs and overlook the real issues of sexism at the work place.

    Think about the following. Say you work in a male dominated workplace and the guys all talk about sports and you aren't interested. Is that sexist because the conversation is male dominated? If the same conversation is about women, and you aren't interested, are they sexist for having that conversation?

    I'm in a female dominated profession and I can recall many times the conversations bored the hell out of me: the latest sale at Safeway, a new couch, what was missed on the day's soap opera. Is that sexist? Is it sexist if a bunch of female nurses discuss hot guys at work?

    I agree with you when there is a problematic culture, everything contributing to it should be looked at. What I don't agree with some of my female friends in STEM fields on, is a knee-jerk response to everything sexual, and drawing broad conclusions from isolated incidents.

    The question is, is everything sexual some form of aggression? I don't think that is a given assumption.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
  25. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't even see how it was attractive but maybe it's a cultural thing. It looked like a cartoon drawing.
     
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