The day and age we live in..
So, for those mysterious loons who don't get embroiled in internet furores, we'll start with the story of #shirtgate.
A team of scientists managed to land a space probe on a comet which was both hundreds of millions of miles away, and moving at 80,000 mph. That is quite a feat by any standards. I'd say even the moon-landings look tame by comparison. Something to make us feel good about ourselves, you might think.
Naturally there are press conferences surrounding this magnificent scientific achievement, and in one of these a prominent scientist from the project, Matt Taylor, was wearing a t-shirt with drawings of almost-but-not-quite-naked women.
...and this is where 21st century lunacy took over. These days we don't in reality have many facists, hardline communists (well a few, but not many Stalinists) or fundamentalist Christians (in the UK at least). We do have some rather fanatical Muslims, though. And we have feminism. Lot's and lot's of feminism.
That's so ostracizing!
The response to Taylor's shirt began in earnest, including angry tweets from Rose Eveleth of The Atlantic, and a piece in the Verge website entitled "I don't care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing".
"Ostracising" is, I suppose, a gerundive, if I've remembered the term correctly, so it just about works grammatically, though it seems not to have flowed from the pen of a master wordsmith, if you ask me. This sort of language is also one of the tell-tale signs that you're reading one of the outraged victimhood-politics mob.
It's hard, isn't it, to see how a shirt can ostracise anyone. I'm not being funny here. This deliberate imprecision is sort of the topic for the day. For of course we are supposed to understand that they mean that the shirt is in some way related to behaviours that allegedly exclude women from working in science.
Let me quote from the Verge:
This is the sort of casual misogyny that stops women from entering certain scientific fields. They see a guy like that on TV and they don't feel welcome. They see a poster of greased up women in a colleague's office and they know they aren't respected. They hear comments about "bitches" while out at a bar with fellow science students, and they decide to change majors
It goes on a bit like this. Now firstly calling the shirt "casual misogyny" is not just exaggeration, it represents the ravings of someone in need of urgent help. Some modern feminists will call depiction of the naked female form on a shirt "misogyny" if a man wears it, and beautiful self-expression if a woman wears such a thing. In truth, they imagine misogyny everywhere they look. All this seething hatred must trouble them (if they are really stupid enough to believe in it - which they might be)
Secondly, we are once again being asked to believe in mysterious forces at play that are stopping women from pursuing science. Now I've worked in a university Science department and seen no such forces - though they may exist elsewhere, I guess.
What I did see was many men in senior positions, but many more of the up-and-coming students and academics were women in this particular field. The point is, far from men conspiring to impede women's progress, they actually very often want to see more female colleagues.
The slightly more serious politics of it
But the debate about women in science has many similarities with the very dishonest debate about the gender pay-gap, and I propose to discuss this in my next post. Suffice it to say that many women, including some prominent feminists, have said the shirt doesn't bother them, and does not seem like sexism to them. Even Julie Bindel is concerned at what feminism "might become".
I'll end by requoting the Verge:
I don't care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing
And ask - do these people care about anything other than their very dubious beliefs - that they hold with such religious zeal? The scientific and engineering achievement will go down in history. But some feminists didn't give this a second thought, because they were obsessing about an unspecified "sexism" that might not even exist.
They couldn't see the brilliance right in front of them, all they could see was something that wasn't there..