My Thoughts On #ShirtGate 2014

I woke up this morning to found out that my cause – and, y’know, the entire human race – had been set back another three steps because of MORE #ShirtGate nonsense. Apparently, the MRAs and misogynists of the web had discovered another thing they could throw back in feminists’ faces, as if comparing wanting the freedom to be able to wear what you want in the workplace and wanting the freedom to not have your own harassment or rape blamed on your attire wasn’t bad enough already.

Let’s look at this, shall we? Down to the basic bare bones of the situation.

  • Fig 1.: A man wears a tee-shirt depicting half-naked women to a news interview, in his workplace.
  • Fig 2.: Feminists stood up and said that it wasn’t appropriate for him to wear a shirt like that when the scientific field of work was a difficult enough place for women to navigate without sexism.
  • Fig 3.: The man broke down into tears whilst apologizing for the feelings that were hurt. The feminists responded that they didn’t mean to make him cry, they just wanted their voices heard.
  • Fig 4.: Angry people began flaming feminists on the Internet, creating insulting memes, etc, because a man should be allowed to wear what he wants without having to be bullied to tears.

Okay. So we have a man, a scientist, who wore a racy shirt to work. How many people genuinely believe that a shirt depicting sexualized, scantily-clad women is an appropriate choice of attire for the workplace? Really?

Let’s completely forget about #ShirtGate for a moment. Let’s forget about the angry MRAs and the feminists and the people making their cute little memes where they stockpile as much “evidence” as they can and then write “FUCK FEMINISM” on it. Let’s focus on the fact that someone wore something that wasn’t appropriate in the workplace, and someone called them out on it. What’s ironic in this situation is that all of these MRAs and the people who are getting all up in arms about Dr. Taylor’s rights are experiencing WHAT WOMEN EXPERIENCE CONSTANTLY ALL OVER THE WORLD.

Every day there’s stories of women who are being told that their skirts are too short, that their shirts are too see-through, that they can’t wear tops with straps because their shoulders and cleavage may be a distraction, and that sort of attire isn’t “appropriate” for the classroom/workplace. And every day, I see comments from the same friends on my Facebook feed who are F-R-E-A-K-I-N-G O-U-T about Dr. Taylor’s rights condemning these girls/women for their decisions, talking about how they should “dress professionally” in a “professional environment”.

Well folks, the last I checked, a news report about the scientific breakthrough of the year is a pretty gorram professional environment, and perhaps a shirt with images of women showing off their thighs, stomachs, and boobs is just as inappropriate as a woman showing off her thighs, stomach, and boobs. Or are we going to just ignore this INSANE double standard and focus more on the fact that a man was brought to tears by “angry women”?

Which, by the way, I agree is completely unnecessary and uncalled for. No one should be bullied to tears for their choice of attire. Not scientists who have landed hunks of metal on comets. And not women who are constantly shamed for the way they dress. Some of the comments I’ve seen on renowned cosplayer Jessica Nigri‘s Facebook page, about how she’s a slut and she’s ruining cosplay, would bring ME to tears. I hate to sound skeptical, but I doubt very much anyone who is rushing to the aid of Dr. Taylor would rush to Miss Nigri’s aid if people were slut-shaming her and telling her that her costumes aren’t appropriate.

And that’s basically what this comes down to. It’s the gender inequality monster rearing its ugly head, and its so ingrained in our society that people aren’t even aware of it anymore, because they’ve been brainwashed into believing it’s “the norm”. It’s the case of when a man does something it’s okay (so okay even that we don’t even notice it happening), but when a woman does the same thing, society is so programmed to think that she shouldn’t be allowed to do it that we immediately feel uncomfortable about it. And the case in point here is “the nude female form”. It’s all right when a man displays it, we don’t even notice; but when a woman displays it, we are programmed to think of her as a sexual object, and therefore she’s a slut, whore, skank, etc.

So, here’s the money question: IF A FEMALE SCIENTIST DRESSED LIKE ONE OF THE WOMEN ON HIS SHIRT TO A PRESS CONFERENCE, HOW WOULD EVERYONE WHO IS DEFENDING DR. TAYLOR REACT TO HER CHOICE OF ATTIRE?

I doubt very, very much that they would defend her for it. In fact, I imagine the Internet would be broken into millions of tiny pieces with the sheer OUTRAGE that a female scientist would dress like a total whore during such an important scientific event. Who did she sleep with to get that position? One of my personal favourites, I bet she’s a total bimbo, they just told her what to say about the science shit so she could be eye candy. Or even, damn, did you hear the news? The Rosetta mission lander actually managed to detect tiny organic matter molecules in the vast expanse that is Dr. Amelia’s silicone mountains!

The basic tipping point that this comes down to is that women are still seen as sexual objects, and to show images of them half-naked in pornographic positions is all fine and dandy, but women who choose to dress in that way themselves, as objects, have no rights. This is just another example of how women can constantly be told “that’s not appropriate” or “you can’t wear that”, but the second a man is told something is “inappropriate” or that he can’t do something, oh boy, does the whole Internet implode on itself.

And again, I want to reiterate that I don’t disagree entirely with Dr. Taylor’s choice of attire, because it was HIS CHOICE. I don’t personally agree with “appropriate clothing” for “appropriate situations”, which is why I’ll roll my eyes at anyone who tells me I can’t go to an outdoor cafe business meeting in shorts and a tank top when it’s ninety degrees outside. My point here is that people on the Internet (mostly men, but women and other genders too) are reacting to something women face EVERY DAY, which is the fear that we will be told what we are wearing is “inappropriate” for the situation, because women are slut-shamed so much for showing off any skin these days. My point here is that maybe EVERYONE who is so up in arms about Dr. Taylor’s rights should make sure, the next time they see a woman being shamed for showing skin or a girl who’s been sent home from school for wearing leggings or a camisole top, that they don’t immediately shame that woman or girl for not “dressing appropriately”.

Anyway. That’s my two cents. I hope you guys appreciate it.

Kiery xo