Re: 'Shirtgate'

November 16, 2014   

Re “shirtgate” (link is to a reasonable summary and rebuttal that I don’t completely agree with.)

Just like it’s overly simplistic to let one woman’s voice stand for all women, I also think it’s a jump to say that the women on this shirt represent every woman ever. I’m me, and there’s no other me, right? I’m not on this shirt, and I don’t see my career in STEM melting in front of me because of this shirt.

I disagree that this shirt says, as the linked article claims,

“Every woman working on this project, every woman working on a similar project, every woman working in STEM, every woman aspiring to work in STEM — this is what I think of you. Every girl dreaming of working in STEM someday — this is what I’ll think of you when you’re grown up. Tits and ass. That’s what you are to me.”

This shirt says, these specific women, on this shirt, are hot and surrounded by awesome sci-fi imagery. These women could be excellent scientists! Their sexiness has nothing to do with how scientifically capable they are. Maybe the models are brilliant engineers, who knows. To me, this is a very limited interpretation of the shirt, “they are hot therefore they are dumb and incapable of other things,” which is exactly the kind of interpretation I would like to be combating.

If you feel offended by this shirt, that’s your right and I’ll fight for your right to say that. If he outright said “No way women could have made this comet landing happen, they’re too stupid,” I would completely agree that this person is sexist. However, I personally don’t feel that this choice of attire represents me at all. I’m a lot more complex of a ladybeing than what’s being represented on that garment, and I’m not going to pretend that what someone else wore is an indication of my own abilities.

I DO agree it’s an incredibly distracting shirt, a terrible fashion choice, and he needs a wardrobe upgrade. That’s the kind of controversy I’d stand behind.

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