Dr. Matt Taylor, great scientist and all around decent human being, apologised for inadvertently offending women by wearing an inappropriate shirt for a press conference. In a perfect world, that would be the end of the story, but we don’t live in that world. Now the anti-feminists and “men’s rights” activists have their knickers all in a twist about the ‘attacks’ on Dr. Taylor.


I read tweets criticizing the shirt. Tweets by women tended to be civilized and didn’t judge Dr. Taylor as a person, just the choice of shirt. Another article asked why nobody who worked with Dr. Taylor noticed that maybe that shirt wasn’t the best choice for international press exposure.  So where did these charges of horrible abuse come from?  The first nasty tweet I found was by a man who said “Only a douchbag would wear this shirt.” See the pattern here?

Here’s a quote from Boris Johnson;

I watched that clip of Dr Taylor’s apology – at the moment of his supreme professional triumph – and I felt the red mist come down. It was like something from the show trials of Stalin, or from the sobbing testimony of the enemies of Kim Il-sung, before they were taken away and shot.

Really? Do you really think Dr. Taylor’s situation could be equated with someone about be murdered? The only people told they deserved to die for expressing opinions on this issue in the Twitterverse were WOMEN. See the pattern here? Boris Johnson, blinded by privilege, and all those clever memes about how unfortunate that a person is judged by what he wore, miss the point by a light-year.  This is what systemic sexism looks like.


Scientist makes poor fashion choice AND makes some sexist comments during a press conference.

Reasonable women: “That shirt would make me feel uncomfortable in a shared workplace.”

‘Professional’ Feminists (also reasonable): “Yes, the Scientist should have worn a different shirt. BTW, why didn’t anyone else who works there notice that shirt was inappropriate for an international press conference?”

Knee-jerk people who don’t share that workplace or know Dr. Taylor personally: “Only a total douchebag would wear a shirt like that, idiot, you clearly hate all women, blah, blah, blah.”

Misogynists and others blinded by privilege: “Its just a shirt. Get over it.”

Scientist: Sorry, I won’t do that again. *sniff, sob* (because he is emotional. because he didn’t ever intend to hurt anyone’s feelings or make them feel unwelcome, and it just never occurred to him that his words or that shirt would cause offense because years of conditioning and male privilege made him blind to the possibility that objectifying half of humanity would make professional colleagues belonging to that other half feel uneasy.)

Women who pointed out the poor fashion choice: “Thank you, I really appreciate that.” (now have huge respect for scientist)

Feminists; … (Moving on, but also have huge respect for scientist who learned and shared.)

Knee jerks and Misogynists: “Hey bitches, how dare you viciously attack that poor man. You forced him to demonstrate emotion in public, thereby humiliating him, because real men don’t do that. What a horrible thing to do, you’re just as bad as a dictator who killed millions of his own people! You feminists should all just die. now.”

Rest of the small-minded world:  “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

Sane people: “What the serious f*ck is wrong with you people?”

ps: Dear media who pumped this story through their conflictinator for maximum drama and thereby profit: you deserve a figurative kick in the goolies because you suck at your job.

pps; December 7, 2014. At this point it looks like the gamer-gate contingent of 12-year old trolls are the loudest voices in the online #shirtstorm conversation, as most intelligent people have moved on to more important things.  Systemic sexism is still an issue in workplaces, schools, churches and the media. Rape culture is a bigger issue than ever. The whole sordid mess is like a pimple about to pop and I can see the connections between sexism and racism, which has also reached a head in the wake of decisions not to indict cops who kill unarmed blacks. The struggle for justice for women will join and fortify the struggles for justice for blacks, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, the homeless, low-wage workers, indigenous communities and people who live in ‘sacrifice zones’ bearing the brunt of environmental destruction.  We are all connected and I continue to believe we can solve all the problems that threaten our biosphere.








About Connect ALL the Dots

Just trying to make the world a better place.

Posted on November 16, 2014, in Feminism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. That sums it up quite well.

  2. OK in doing battle with MRA man-babies in the Twitterverse it came to my attention that they are woefully ill-informed and have been misled by false rape stats on wikipedia which I have since corrected. I sent a message to the to please fix this false headline; “More men are raped in the US than women” – This has been online for over a year!

    The headline is false because it compares estimates of jail rape (not all of which are reported) around 200K to the 90K reported rapes overall. Given the massive under-reporting of rapes there is no evidence of the truth of that statement. On the contrary, the Centres for Disease Control counted approx. 1.3 million rapes in 2010 when the FBI figure was 85K. That false headline led to incorrect information in Wikipedia that so-called “mens’ rights activists” use to marginalize women and which I have since corrected, based on more credible and reliable data.

    We need more women editors in Wikipedia!!

  3. Nice to see that ‘thanks for ruining the comet landing for me, asshole’ is now considered reasonable and rational. Or did you purposely omit it to make a dishonest case?

    • When I wrote this piece, I had not yet seen that post. I agree that it was inappropriate to cross the line from valid criticism into name-calling, but to use one woman’s comment as an excuse to pile on and demonize everyone who denounces casual sexism is worse.

  4. I couldn’t resist writing a blog myself, wondering why in the world ESA management and PR people let this happen.

    Did ESA Management inadvertently set up Dr. Matt Taylor for #Shirtstorm?

    You’ve encapsulated the Twitterverse cyclone quite well here.

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