Sunday, November 16, 2014

Regarding ShirtGate

Overall his shirt would have been considered inappropriate at a lot of workplace (including my own).

OTOH, I do tend to cut techie/geeky people some slack with respect to their intentions. I don't think he meant to deliberately send an anti-woman message. Rather, it's more like if he had worn a t-shirt with one of those retro Wonder Woman images on it -- wearing a costume meant to highlight her anatomy, but clearly inconvenient for fighting actual supervillains (see below).

Taylor undoubtedly thought his shirt was non-offensive, even if others might see it differently. In turn,  I might have regarded his shirt as worthy of a couple of minor eyerolls, then moving on.

I've been very surprised at the intensity and vehemence of the attacks against Taylor. I get what his critics are objecting too, but there seems something oddly disproportionate about the reaction relative to the magnitude of his deed. And I think that reflects something unhealthy about our culture -- but which I don't quite have a full handle on.

Update: For some reason, I had the scientist's name wrong -- it should be Taylor, not Martin!

Update #2: I wanted to post this thoughtful dissenting response from a female friend who is also a programmer (quoted with her permission):
I've worked with a lot of clueless poorly dressing geeks... Not a single one of them would wear a shirt like that to work. If they did their manager would do his job and tell them to change. The bigger problem here isn't that a lone man wore the shirt. It's that his management let him wear it on national TV... And if he is a manager then he should have known better.

As to why people would blow up over it?? The fact that it so casually was allowed to happen and so many of you think it's not a big deal is why. I've been lucky to not have to deal with the sexism that my fellow female programmers have had to.. But I know in the wrong company or place it is there.

This man took an amazing scientific achievement and at the same time knowingly or unknowingly slapped down thousands of woman who have worked to keep that type of imagery out of their work place. How the $&@? Can I let my little girls see that news conference with that shirt? People aren't yelling to destroy the achievement. They are yelling because they are shocked it was allowed to happen with such an achievement. The achievement deserved honor and not degrading imagery.

Imagine if it had been men in speedos or something that made another race look stupid. Would you still think it not a big deal? Women are extra angry because when it should be getting better junk like this keeps happening... And so many just give us the "oh there she goes again overreacting" stereotype.