Shaking my head in dispare over this

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Post by kleenestar on Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:28 pm

Did you read the actual tweets that were quoted for you right here in this thread?

"Can you tell Matt Taylor not to wear that shirt and make comments about Rosetta's sex life?"

"What a lost opportunity to encourage girls into science."

I'm not saying that no one anywhere isn't using a stupid framing of "is / isn't misogynist," but that doesn't mean we have to be that stupid.
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Post by UristMcBunny on Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:30 pm

SadisticToaster wrote:
kleenestar wrote:
SadisticToaster wrote:is it a misogynist shirt?

That's a meaningless and unhelpful question. The question is, "When speaking as a public representative of a field which has significant structural and institutional problems with women, what is the message the shirt sends?"

Is it? The inital flap was people complaining that he was wearing a misogynist T-shirt.


Actually every bit of evidence I've seen indicates that the initial complaint was that the shirt sent a poor message to girls and women about STEM fields and their attitude towards women in general.

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Post by reboot on Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:38 pm

UristMcBunny wrote:
SadisticToaster wrote:
kleenestar wrote:
SadisticToaster wrote:is it a misogynist shirt?

That's a meaningless and unhelpful question. The question is, "When speaking as a public representative of a field which has significant structural and institutional problems with women, what is the message the shirt sends?"

Is it? The inital flap was people complaining that he was wearing a misogynist T-shirt.


Actually every bit of evidence I've seen indicates that the initial complaint was that the shirt sent a poor message to girls and women about STEM fields and their attitude towards women in general.

That is what I gathered as well. I do believe Katie Mack from University of Melbourne was the first to tweet about it.
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Post by Mel on Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:01 pm

I'm starting to feel the actual message of this thread should be not

"Feminists, if you see something that bothers you, please make sure that you're being reasonable in your response."

but

"Guys, if you see people talking about how unreasonable some feminists are being, please make sure you check what actually happened before assuming you're getting a reasonable account."

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Post by SadisticToaster on Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:09 pm

kath wrote:Sadistic Toaster, in the tweets, one of the women who was there spoke up to someone at the ESA and was told she should talk Taylor directly, and she said she didn't feel comfortable doing that: https://twitter.com/astrojohnjohn/status/532706711401164801

Thanks for the link - there's some interesting stuff there. A lot of people wouldn't feel comfortable making a direct complaint to someone they don't know - in a place they don't know. But someone else clearly passed the message on to him because:

"Emily Lakdawalla ‏@elakdawalla Nov 12

@astrojohnjohn @astroprofhoff I don't know what happened, but the shirt disappeared and I didn't hear him say the word "sexy" again after."

That should have been it. Sorted.

But then statements like "#ThatShirt is a problem because of what it says about society. "How do I look cool and fun? Oh, I'll degrade women. That'll do it."" started spreading.

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Post by The Wisp on Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:28 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:I think I have a fairly low threshold for what sorts of tenuous criticisms of feminism I'm willing to take seriously or even defend to some extent, but I'm having trouble buying the premise of this thread.

Ditto. I mean, yeah, it kinda sucks that this is drawing attention away from the Big Science News, but on the other hand, the shirt did send a bad message and was unprofessional to wear on TV.
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Post by Mel on Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:31 pm

From the accounts I've read, you're missing a step there, ST.

First a bunch of people expressed concerns about the situation almost entirely in a calm and non-attacking way.  Then Taylor changed the shirt and people appreciated that. Then some other people started attacking those who'd complained saying they'd had no right to, it was no big deal, etc.  THEN people started explaining more why they saw it as a problem, and not everyone is going to see it the same way.  Big surprise.

If there hadn't been the backlash against people speaking up at all, it seems likely it would have stayed focused on the specific incident and quickly blown over.  So I'm still not seeing why the issue is being presented as "feminists overreacted" and not "anti-feminists overreacted".  Why are you here defending the OP's right to make broad claims about the validity of the entire feminist movement... if your reasoning is that it's wrong to make broad claims on a large scale based on one small incident?
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Post by SadisticToaster on Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:03 pm

Mel wrote:
Why are you here defending the OP's right to make broad claims about the validity of the entire feminist movement... if your reasoning is that it's wrong to make broad claims on a large scale based on one small incident?

I'm not - I'm here because I don't like bullies. Or seeing people be bullied. I saw a lot hate directed towards this guy, and I saw him in tears. He's not a celebrity ( who tend to get used to this sort of thing - they shouldn't have to, but the skin thickens ), he's a scientist. And then he woke up to read newspaper articles saying that he'd just demeaned 50% of the worlds population, that he's sexist, he's the reason why women don't go into STEM, and the rest.

He didn't deserve this.

There's people going to bed happy tonight because they got to see him cry. And these are supposed to be the good people.

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Post by kleenestar on Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:12 pm

Except, guess what? He DID demean women, even if he didn't mean to, and he DID contribute to a culture that stops women from going into science. So what, are we supposed to pretend that he didn't do damage because it might hurt his feelings?

I don't blame him - I blame the people who never pointed out to him what he was doing. And part of the reason no one speaks up to say "hey, shirt, not a good idea" is because of the people who (like some of the people in this thread) make a huge deal out of even the mildest comment suggesting that something might be a problem for women in science, which makes it impossible to correct these situations before they result in a huge disaster.
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Post by reboot on Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:16 pm

kleenestar wrote:Except, guess what? He DID demean women, even if he didn't mean to, and he DID contribute to a culture that stops women from going into science. So what, are we supposed to pretend that he didn't do damage because it might hurt his feelings?

I don't blame him - I blame the people who never pointed out to him what he was doing. And part of the reason no one speaks up to say "hey, shirt, not a good idea" is because of the people who (like some of the people in this thread) make a huge deal out of even the mildest comment suggesting that something might be a problem for women in science, which makes it impossible to correct these situations before they result in a huge disaster.

My impression from his apology was that he was crying because he was truly remorseful rather than because he was feeling bullied. I could be wrong, but that was my impression. And it is OK to cry because you feel bad for doing something hurtful, intentional or not.
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Post by azazel on Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:17 pm

Mel wrote:First a bunch of people expressed concerns about the situation almost entirely in a calm and non-attacking way.  Then Taylor changed the shirt and people appreciated that.

...they expressed concerns about the situation almost entirely in a calm and non-attacking way on the internet?

Suuuuuure.

Personally I think this controversy was God send. They try so hard to make science hip and for everyone because they're constantly in danger of losing funding, maybe they'll finally figure out to be professional again.

I was joking about the Comic Sans controversy before, but that's kind of a symptom of a larger disease.

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Post by kath on Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:41 pm

Azazel, did you read the breakdown of the tweets? The people who were expressing concerns about the shirt DID do so "almost entirely in a calm and non-attacking way" - seems like most of the attacks have come afterwards, against the people who said "hey, that shirt wasn't cool, dude!"

What hate did you see directed at him, Sadistic Toaster? Was that tweet breakdown badly misrepresenting what happened?
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Post by Mel on Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:56 pm

azazel wrote:...they expressed concerns about the situation almost entirely in a calm and non-attacking way on the internet?

Suuuuuure.

Um, I provided a link to someone who looked at all the tweets as the incident was happening in my first post on this thread, which is where I got that information from. Because generally speaking it's a good idea to actually look into the reality of the situation rather than draw conclusions based only on your assumptions about how people behave.

kath wrote:What hate did you see directed at him, Sadistic Toaster? Was that tweet breakdown badly misrepresenting what happened?

Seconding this question. I will still happily look at examples of people actually personally attacking him or the like, and adjust my perspective. So far, like Kleenestar, I haven't seen any evidence to suggest he was upset because he was "bullied" or the like rather than simply because he felt bad for having made a real mistake that he regretted. I have seen, and provided a link to, evidence that the response was not so horrible. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that people saying the opposite offer a little actual proof of their own position (as I did ask, several hours ago, and am still waiting to see any).
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Post by SadisticToaster on Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:18 pm

kleenestar wrote:Except, guess what? He DID demean women, even if he didn't mean to, and he DID contribute to a culture that stops women from going into science. So what, are we supposed to pretend that he didn't do damage because it might hurt his feelings?
.

I didn't say "women" as that could be as little as 2 of them. I said 50% of the human race as that is what he was accused of.

They seem to have quite upset the person who created the shirt too:

"My heart just broke watching Matt's apology. That is not cool. The public can be unreasonably cruel. I'm saddened and angered by this."

Just collateral damage to you?

kath wrote:
What hate did you see directed at him, Sadistic Toaster? Was that tweet breakdown badly misrepresenting what happened?

The link you posted seemed to be the very start. A journalist said she didn't like his shirt - he got changed. Then it turned nasty:

( Even though I'm pretty sure none of you are going to harass the people who said the below - I've still taken out the names. )

"Thanks for ruining the cool comet landing for me asshole." ( this seems to have been what sent it viral )

"I assume the lander is just saving its harpoons so it can hunt down that bearded idiot in the gross shirt."

"Because women are your goddamn punchline. And demeaning women is a fun way to show how casual you are! How unlike stuffy stereotypes!"

"That's the worst part of it. He marginalized his female colleagues as part of a fucking joke. To show how laid back he is."

"His shirt says to women in STEM: I have no respect for you as a professional. When I look at you, I see a sex object"

Yes, if you want to play Oppression Olympics - this is mild stuff. Russel Brand gets it worse every day - but celebrities know to expect this sort of thing, and can brace themselves. Dr. Taylor was blindsinded. I'd have felt he same way if someone had snapped a picture of me in my St. Pauli T-shirt, and then had the internet brand me a neo-Nazi the next day.

It was only after it got out that he wore it to honour the friend who made it shot a hole in the idea that he was misogynistic that I started seeing people saying that their problem was that the shirt was unprofessional.

But if professionalism was all they cared about, we'd have gone through this back when promo shots of him in his 'Cannibal Corpse - Butchered at Birth' t-shirt came out.

Mel wrote: (as I did ask, several hours ago, and am still waiting to see any).

It was midnight. I chose sleep - and then work, over internet forums. I'm sorry if this has upset you.

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Post by kleenestar on Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:02 pm

No, I don't think it's collateral damage. I think it's an absolutely appropriate response to realizing that he did something really shitty. And to be blunt, I think the reason why you're so agitated about it being horribly damaging is because you think there is something wrong with either a) men being held accountable for their behavior, b) men publicly expressing their feelings in a vulnerable way, or c) both.

As for the tweets, I see you're lumping together three different kinds of tweets. There are tweets that seem perfectly reasonable to me - because guess what? He DID ruin the comet landing for a whole lot of women because he couldn't be bothered to think about the impact of his behavior, and his shirt DOES send a message to women in STEM, whether it accurately reflects his personal feelings or not. There are tweets that make assumptions about his personal intentions, which in this case happen to be incorrect but seem pretty reasonable based on past experiences that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN IN SCIENCE THAT I KNOW has had. And then there's the one genuinely nasty tweet, which, guess what? Some people are assholes online. (Though it pales in comparison to the vicious, hateful, and threatening responses that women who dare to talk about the issue get. Just saying.) But if you think that tweet categories 1 and 2 are the same as category 3, then the problem is you.

Let me be clear: every single time I give a lecture, or do a media appearance, I have to think carefully about both the intentional and unintentional messages I send. Unlike Taylor, I expect that the first time I screw this up, I will end up getting rape threats, death threats, hacking and doxxing attempts, etc., rather than people simply pointing out that there's a problem (and a few of them being mean about it). This is a problem that anyone doing public-facing science has to address, and I see no goddamn reason he should get a pass. What him crying during his apology tells me is that he's a decent human being, and the people arguing that he should never have been put in that position read to me as saying he shouldn't have to be one.
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Post by WJMorris3 on Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:10 pm

I'm probably not qualified to hold an opinion on the shirt, given I'm male, but that does not stop me from having one anyways.

I think it's a very tacky shirt, and I think it's not a wise idea to be wearing it in public, especially for a public broadcast. He probably got off easy, I think, as he's still allowed to work. After all, if I was his boss, I would have fired him without a second thought - through his actions, he put his agency in a bad light. There shouldn't be a place in the STEM fields (or any field, for that matter) where women are degraded like that.

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Post by reboot on Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:32 pm

WJMorris3 wrote:I'm probably not qualified to hold an opinion on the shirt, given I'm male, but that does not stop me from having one anyways.

I think it's a very tacky shirt, and I think it's not a wise idea to be wearing it in public, especially for a public broadcast. He probably got off easy, I think, as he's still allowed to work. After all, if I was his boss, I would have fired him without a second thought - through his actions, he put his agency in a bad light. There shouldn't be a place in the STEM fields (or any field, for that matter) where women are degraded like that.

I do not think he should be fired, but the Public Information Officer/Press Liaison/Public Relations person for EAS should definitely be reprimanded if not fired. It is that person's freaking job to make sure staff are aware of what is acceptable when presenting to the public and being on official camera

Personally, I think if he wanted to go for an ugly shirt, one with stars and comets would have been better
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Post by Werel on Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:53 pm

I'm reminded of an experience from my high school days: four senior boys were best friends. To celebrate their friendship, they bought matching team-style t-shirts, with numbers on the back and all that, and wore them to school. Problem: the "team name" chosen for the shirts was "NIGZ." All of the boys were white.

In return for not being suspended or expelled, they made formal public apologies to the entire school community during an assembly convened specifically to discuss the shirts. Students had the chance to address the boys with their thoughts about the shirts, and some students did speculate on the boys' motives and what this decision said about their personalities. All of the offending boys became teary during this assembly. Some cried openly. All seemed genuinely, deeply contrite, and spoke insightfully about why they had thought the shirts were funny and cool, and the reasons they now realized the shirt choice was a terrible and hurtful one. Then life continued pretty much as normal.

It seems ludicrous to imagine that these boys were mistreated. It seems ludicrous to imagine a serious backlash against the school administration for Shaming these Poor Innocent Boys in a schoolwide assembly. It seems ludicrous to imagine anyone standing up and saying "but these guys are great athletes/students/artists/friends first and foremost, cut them some slack!" It seems ludicrous to imagine anyone saying (as they have for Matt Taylor) "But it was for his/their friend(s)! A display of friendship! We oughtn't shit on something so lovely as a testament to friendship!" It seems ludicrous to imagine that these boys weren't improved and educated by this experience, as they themselves said they were.

Basically, I have no idea why anyone has a problem with telling somebody "yo, bonehead move," the person in question being like "oh damn, that was a bonehead move, sorry" and everyone going on their merry way armed with better clothing-decision-making skills.


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Post by BasedBuzzed on Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:29 pm

I've been through one such melodramatic struggle session with a couple of teachers in the room when I drew a swastika windmill in primary school(11 years old or so), and it's nearly impossible to not cry, nod along and roll out the socially appropriate script in such a case. Up the ante to a school assembly full of people and only a sociopath wouldn't crumble, no matter the age. Cognitive dissonance doesn't go away in a day, and plenty of people take the lesson of "just don't do it around people who might get upset about it, because it's not worth it". Has the same net benefit(person X selects social circles on acceptability of behaviour and thus avoids bothering peeps who would take offence), but change of mentality often only happens slowly over time.

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Post by eselle28 on Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:56 pm

SadisticToaster wrote:
I didn't say "women" as that could be as little as 2 of them. I said 50% of the human race as that is what he was accused of.

They seem to have quite upset the person who created the shirt too:

"My heart just broke watching Matt's apology. That is not cool. The public can be unreasonably cruel. I'm saddened and angered by this."

Just collateral damage to you?

I find it interesting that you're privileging the pain felt by a man sympathizing with his male friend for having done something wrong over the pain felt by all the women who felt demeaned by the shirt.


"Thanks for ruining the cool comet landing for me asshole." ( this seems to have been what sent it viral )

I don't see what's wrong with this. He might not have meant to be an asshole or to ruin her experience, but he was and he did. People make mistakes sometimes. They should be forgiven for those mistakes if they express remorse and a desire to do better in the future, but I don't think shielding them from the harm they've caused others accomplishes that.

"I assume the lander is just saving its harpoons so it can hunt down that bearded idiot in the gross shirt."

Yeah, this is a jerky thing to say.

"Because women are your goddamn punchline. And demeaning women is a fun way to show how casual you are! How unlike stuffy stereotypes!"

"That's the worst part of it. He marginalized his female colleagues as part of a fucking joke. To show how laid back he is."

"His shirt says to women in STEM: I have no respect for you as a professional. When I look at you, I see a sex object"

Those all seem like perfectly appropriate sentiments as well. He caused other people to feel these things. He didn't intend to do so, but that was the effect of his actions. It's entirely possible to do something that is sexist without actually being a sexist person, and it appears that was what happened here.

It was only after it got out that he wore it to honour the friend who made it shot a hole in the idea that he was misogynistic that I started seeing people saying that their problem was that the shirt was unprofessional.

I'd say it's both unprofessional and demeaning to women. His impulse to honor his friend is a kind one, but good impulses don't always lead to good results. Not everything my friends craft is appropriate for all audiences, and some things they make probably shouldn't be shown to anyone else at all. A more thoughtful person would have paused in front of the closet that day and decided that he could honor his friend in some other way, or that perhaps it was a less important priority than some others. A thoughtful person with good planning skills might have commissioned another shirt from his friend to wear.

It seems like much of the upset over this incident is because the man in question seems to be a good person. I would restate what I said above: Being a good person doesn't make you incapable of doing a bad thing. Likewise, having done a bad thing doesn't brand you as being a bad person. This sometimes seems harsh, as it means that even good people might end up being criticized for their behavior, but there's also hope there, because it means that all of our various failings can be improved upon.
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Post by Enail on Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:03 am

<mod> Just a reminder, folks, if you want to discuss peoples' reactions to a hot topic on this site, you should be prepared to engage in a good-faith discussion about it - which includes both listening and responding to what is actually being said. It's starting to feel a little circular here, and I'd like to see a bit more evidence that this is genuinely intended as a discussion and not an unopposed rant, or we'll have to shut this thread down. </mod>
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Post by kleenestar on Wed Nov 19, 2014 2:25 pm

If people are curious, here's a thing I'm happy to answer questions about. Over the past year, I've gone from being a (well-respected and successful) graduate student to being a professor and researcher at one of the top universities in my field. While I'm still a bit junior to end up on national television, I've been featured in multiple documentaries, quoted in major national newspapers, represented my university and field in conversations with global political and economic leaders, and all sorts of other things I still can't quite believe are happening. What this means is that I've had to think a lot about how I publicly present myself as a researcher, particularly as someone who is very seriously committed to broadening access to STEM.

I also know more than a little bit about just how hard it is to succeed as a woman in science. As a relatively friendly junior faculty member who is currently building a lab, and who has many friends who are still graduate students, I get to see issues with women in science very directly - over and above my own experience, the reading and research I do.
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Post by C-Bass on Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:19 pm

Well it looks like I was off base with what i said in regards to the over all reaction to Dr Matt's shirt; give me dem licks, I deserve every one of them. I probably got swept up in disinformation from the detractors and lept to conclusions that I shouldn't have.

However, that is precisely the point I wanted to make; this episode is going to become one of the best weapons in the arsenals of those who seek to undo and prevent the progress being made by feminism and various social justice moments.

I guarantee you when these people want to fight you in future, they will refer to this. Why wouldn't they? As far as they're concerned it's the perfect propaganda piece they need; Gobbles would be hard pressed to do better.

That is the key point I'm making here; online feminist and social justice movements aren't considering the long term effects of their campaigns, namely how they can be turned against them. I'm reminded of the 'body count' system the US army used in Vietnam to gauge success, and the way the viet cong and NVA turned it against them by removing as many of their dead from the battle field as possible.

Like it or not the backlash and resistance to online feminist and social justice movements is real and it is growing. It's no longer enough to work out your strategies in relation to the issue at hand, but also to how your detractors may use it against you.
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Post by InkAndComb on Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:25 pm

I always viewed that defensive backlash as an extinction burst, or a group of conservative to social change. I guess, when I respond to things like this O don't care about the backlash because I'm doing it for the people whose voice is lost or feel brought down by events. The black Panthers are often viewed as extremists but even Malcolm X realized that everyone can join together to help fight racism injustice. That doesn't stop people from thinking he's a radical and only quoting his most extreme views; I think people who do that, though, are missing the forest for the trees
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Post by Dan_Brodribb on Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:38 pm

You're connecting Twitter comments and a poorly chosen shirt to a Nazi minister of propaganda and a land war in Asia?

I appreciate your...concern...but I think there's a large number of dead people between here and there.

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Shaking my head in dispare over this - Page 2 Empty Re: Shaking my head in dispare over this

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