#Shirtstorm annoys me. It pisses me off. It does so because I really can’t come down on a “side”, and I can’t stand to see so many people seem to think that you either have to, or to molehill mountaineer over it and go crazy like it’s some big earth-shattering thing.
So here are just some points in no particular order:
I’m a scientist. An actual qualified one, not of the “I Fucking Love” variety. Side-stepping into teaching-focused work at the moment, but I still keep on top of relevant literature and do some side research projects.
Science doesn’t really have a dress-code. You just turn up in whatever. So long as it’s safe.
I understand the need for some decorum for big projects, as image as it is projected to the wider-world is important. We’re not just comfortable at work, we need to put a game-face on to face the masses. Perception is everything. Even I wear a tie every now and then.
But the stereotype of science being dominated by doddery, old white-haired blokes in bow-ties (sorry, Bill Nye) needs to die.
I’m also an artist. Well, I draw, I don’t particularly like to self-label myself with the a-word because it seems but it’s appropriate here. I appreciate things people draw, create and make, of pretty much any subject matter. Creative art is fucking brilliant, it’s what makes life worthwhile.
I also listen to some heavy fucking music on occasion. I’m an old school rocker (although sadly born too late to lay real claim to it) and metal-head at heart. Experience tells me that that sort of thing builds incredibly interesting people.
My lab coat has a few Victoria Francis badges on it and another one that says “I’m Fucking Metal”. I tell people the latter one is an in-joke about organometallics. It’s partially true, actually.
And, you see, the problem with sexism as it exists in the 21st century western world is that it’s subtle, and more ingrained. No one recognises it, or they think it isn’t real. This makes it difficult to point out without receiving a lot of unwarranted flak for it.
And of course the second problem with this subtle sexism is that it’s all too easy to confuse simply the pointing out of cultural artefacts and their wider discussion with a personal accusation of active misogyny.
But if those cultural artefacts do go unchallenged, then the culture that allows them to exist remains unchallenged, and that can have real and tangible effects in the real world towards real people as they’re ostracised or put off trying or speaking up purely because that culture exists and makes them uncomfortable.
Then again, it was just some cool sci-fi/fantasy artwork, not exactly a picture of Sasha Grey taking a load… then again again, modern sexism is subtle. That’s the point.
Then again again again, as a piece of artistic expression that shows through someone’s personality it’s hardly the worst thing that’s ever happened by a long shot, and it might encourage the kind of people who like their comic books convoluted, their artwork over-the-top, and their music shouty-shouty to think “hey, maybe I can science and I don’t need to grow a bald patch and wear a bow tie”.
But other people won’t like that. It’s off-putting because of that subtle sexism that says “this is decoration, women are decoration, you are decoration”.
Yet it must be pretty awesome for the woman that made it to have her work shown so prominently by a friend wearing it. That’s cool, I suppose.
Well, that’s it. No conclusion to be synthesised.