Aaaalrighty, time for me to join this whole internet yelling thing for a bit.
So. I here there’s this shirt. This shirt, to be specific:
Well, before I start talking about this shirt, let’s get some facts straight about me, your writer here.
1. I am a scientist. (Like I have a real degree in it from a major science school and everything.)
2. I am a feminist. (Eh, just go read my other writing for evidence.)
As a scientist, I will whittle things down to their barest of bones for analysis. I will look at the big picture. I will pin down tiny facts with a sharp and pointy needle. I will check my references, try to look for multiple sides of explanations, and figure out a hypothesis that fits best. I will try really fucking hard not to factor in my own biases, or make the data say what I want it to because I’m so fucking desperate to prove my own point. I will be cool. I will be cold. I will be objective. I will be level.
As a feminist, I will scream the bloody guts out of you if you step on my dignity as a woman (i.e. human).
That man, in that shirt up there? Ya wanna know what I would do if I met him?
1. Babble incoherently because I’m standing in front of a super competent scientist who did a fucking amazing thing.
2. Continue to babble incoherently because while I did take quantum mechanics and special relativity, his is still not my particular field of science.
3. Default to commenting on his super cool tattoos.
4. Blush super red because I’m one of those people.
5. Leave feeling awed at the chance to have met him.
You know what I wouldn’t have done? Give a damn about his shirt. Because it’s his. fucking. shirt. And it has done nothing to harm me.
I mean, maybe the Hawaiian shirt-style colors are a little garish on the eyes, but that’s a different matter entirely.
But seriously, how the fuck did we go from lauding this man as an emblem of scientific progress to tar-and-feathering him as the epitome of misogyny? Has he even done anything misogynistic? Because so far, I’ve not heard any reports of that… I have heard of him making a public apology for wearing a shirt that apparently offended people, which honestly goes up and beyond the dictates of good character. So… why aren’t we telling him that he’s a good guy?
Oh, yeah, the shirt.
Well, let’s pause. What’s so offensive about this shirt again? Did it have hateful words on it? No. Did it depict violence towards women? No. Did it depict a woman being coerced to do something she didn’t want to do? No.
The only thing this shirt did (again, beyond the garish color scheme) was depict a confident-looking woman posing confidently in the clothes that this hypothetical art-woman presumably chose to wear because she liked them. And this scientist-man, Dr. Matt Taylor, saw this shirt of a woman being confident enough to flaunt for the presumed hypothetical camera and thought hey, this is a cool thing. An attractive thing. I’d like to wear a shirt that broadcasts that kind of existence for a woman.
(Well, presumably some sort of thought train like that. I obviously can’t know exactly what he thought. It very likely could also just have been, “Ah, cool shirt brah! Imma wear this!”)
But seriously, why are we yelling about this shirt? Because a woman is being sexy on it? WOMEN ARE BEING SEXY ON EVERYTHING. Coca cola cans, internet window advertising side bars, stripper poles, art work, the streets because remember how it’s supposed to be okay for a woman to dress however she wants and not be judged for it? Well, a hypothetical not even real woman was dressing how she wanted on a shirt. Consensually. And a man wore it. Woooo male support of feminism. Right?
As someone who’s also done a fair amount of vocalizing on the eating disorder awareness front, I could see how some people might start yelling about how the woman on the shirt is thin, thus perpetuating unrealistic expectations and suppressing the idea that other body shapes are beautiful and blah blah blah. I’m pretty sure Dr. Taylor didn’t pick up this shirt and go, “Oh hey, I could perpetuate thin culture with this. Yeah, Imma do that.” And even if he did have a thought train along the line of, “Oh, skinny woman. Skinny woman pretty. Yes wear.” WHATEVER. THAT’S HIS FUCKING PREROGATIVE. He’s allowed to have aesthetic preferences. That’s okay. Besides, he’s kinda busy doing cool science shit. The battle against fat shaming is not his responsibility. And again, it’s not like his shirt specifically says “only skinny women are pretty.” It doesn’t. It doesn’t.
So, what do we have about all of this? A scientist wore a garishly colored but otherwise non-content-offensive shirt. And then the world yelled at him, because apparently the world likes to make assumptions and project thought processes instead of slowing down to actually get facts and analyze.
Seriously, guys. It’s just a shirt. I went to a university with more males than females. All of us were scientists. You wanna know what we wore? Our pajamas. Actually. I have a friend who almost never wore anything other than his pajamas. Yes, he even wore them to job interviews. I have never seen this man in a suit. Except for the people who were adding a second business major to their science one, the people at my school, if you saw us in fancy clothes, it’s because it was laundry day and we’d run out of everything else.
And furthermore, I do not joke: World, this is a male scientist not working in a wet lab. Stop giving a shit about the not-actually-offensive shirt, and just be gratefully he was wearing pants.