The European Space Agency successfully landed a research probe on a comet in the culmination of a ten-year mission. Despite some initial difficulty with the landing process, this amazing feat gave scientists the ability to conduct research on the makeup of the comet and further our knowledge of space.
Despite the minor hiccup, this accomplishment should be lauded as one the greatest moments for space exploration in years. But the landing troubles are not what are tarnishing the achievement: it is the shirt worn by one of the scientists that seems to be the problem.
For those of you who are not up to date on the issue – dubbed “shirtgate”– project manager Dr. Matt Taylor, who helped oversee this 10-year project, wore a shirt featuring images of scantily clad cartoon women during an interview. Outrage ensued.
The shirt may have been in poor taste and Dr. Taylor probably should not have worn it on television. That said, the fact that radical feminists are choosing to ignore Dr. Taylor’s achievements and focus on his choice of wardrobe seems mindboggling – especially considering the fact that feminists have often complained that the media is focused on the appearance of female scientists rather than their accomplishments.
To be fair, I would not have worn the shirt for an interview – or to church, or to a formal function – because aside from the fact that I prefer button downs, it just seems inappropriate. However, radical feminists should probably be the last people to criticize Dr. Taylor. The LA Times ran a piece that beautifully articulates this point. In their words: “Too many people demand respect but have lost the ability to show it in return.”
How is it that the ones rallying against the wardrobe of Dr. Taylor are the same people who walk around wearing shirts that read, “I bathe in male tears,” or go about in public topless in the name of empowerment, or make children swear on camera to sell clothing in a shock-value marketing campaign?
This group of people is demanding everyone bow to their definition of offensive and submit to their regulations for public conduct, while refusing to extend that courtesy to everyone else. The public won’t stand for this forever though, evidenced by Time Magazine’s annual word banishment poll. This year, a whopping 50 percent of participants suggested “Feminist” should be the 2015 word-to-ban, until the ironically named group, “Feminist Majority,” bullied Time into taking it out of contention.
Aside from the hypocrisy, our focus is in the wrong place: the magnitude of this achievement should dwarf any wardrobe discrepancy. Has the global community become so sensitive that the take away from this story is not the successful conclusion of a decade-long space mission, but that Dr. Taylor’s shirt was "casual sexism?"
Having one group making the rules on what is or isn’t offensive – and then exempting themselves from these rules – is detrimental to society. In the name of political correctness, a group of people has tried to shift the focus from a historic event to a petty critique to advance their agenda.
The tattooed and eccentric Dr. Taylor is known amongst his colleagues for promoting the idea that professionals should be judged for their work and not their appearance. Maybe we should be admiring his sentiment instead of shooting him down.
While Dr. Taylor’s shirt may have seemed rude to some, we would do well to remember that everyone is rude from time to time, but that is part of being human. We need to rejoice in the incredible victory Dr. Taylor and his team won for science, and rise above the dissenting voices that try to make this discovery into a landmark case for political-correctness.
Cole Ellenbogen is a student at Syracuse University. You can follow him on twitter @Cole_Ellenbogen, or contact him at Ellenbogencole@gmail.com
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