Septic Willies On Rosetta and Philae : Dr Matt Taylor’s Sexist Shirt Sell Out
SO what the European Space Agency landed the Philae spacecraft on that singing comet. It was an awesome thing. Humanity is great. The names Rosetta and Philae are high on the news cycle. Space and the adventures imagained and realised is captivating.
Jonathan Freedland spoke for many:
…the fascination this adventure has stirred. Part of it is simple, a break from the torments down here on earth… For a few merciful days, the news has featured a story remote from the bloodshed of Islamic State and Ukraine, from the pain of child abuse and poverty. Even those who don’t dream of escaping this planet can relish the escapism.
But the comet landing has provided more than a diversion: it’s been an antidote too. For this has been a story of human cooperation in a world of conflict. The narrow version of this point focuses on this as a European success story. When our daily news sees “Europe” only as the source of unwanted migrants or maddening regulation, Philae has offered an alternative vision; that Germany, Italy, France, Britain and others can achieve far more together than they could ever dream of alone. The geopolitical experts so often speak of the global pivot to Asia, the rise of the Bric nations and the like – but this extraordinary voyage has proved that Europe is not dead yet.
Humanity is wonderful.
But the big debate is over Nature Newsteam’s intrview with Rosetta scientist Dr Matt Taylor.
He wore an out of this world shirt, made by Elly Prizeman.
“This is going to be a very long day but a very exciting day. think everyone should enjoy it because we’re making history.”
He then said:
“…the shirt I wore this week… I made a big mistake and I offended many people, and I’m very sorry about this.”
The Verge adds:
Still, Taylor’s personal apology doesn’t make up for the fact that no one at ESA saw fit to stop him from representing the Space community with clothing that demeans 50 percent of the world’s population. No one asked him to take it off, because presumably they didn’t think about it. It wasn’t worth worrying about.
The rock-album-cover-in-Hawaii shirt demeaned all women, incuding the women who work at the European Space Agency?
Was astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti demeaned?
This Atlantic journalist and frustrated cosmologist was outraged:
Dr Taylor, 41, was once just colourful and in love with his wife and two children – before he became a pariah and women hater:
His wife, whom he met in sixth-form and described as the most “beautiful and intelligent woman on the planet”…
He was reportedly told to cover his tattoos at media events in the past, but the unconventional scientist has been gathering something of a cult following after deciding to show off his extensive body art and colourful dress sense.
He was so convinced the mission would be a success he even had the moment of landing tattooed on his leg…
A cooking and fishing fanatic, Dr Taylor once had a death metal band called Septic Willies…
He has also fired guns and met Prince Andrew wearing flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt.
It seems to me that if you care about women in STEM, maybe you shouldn’t want to communicate the notion that they’re so delicate that they can’t handle pictures of comic-book women. Will we stock our Mars spacecraft with fainting-couches?
Not everyone was so censorious. As one female space professional wrote: “Don’t these women and their male cohorts understand that *they* are doing the damage to what/whom they claim to defend!?”
No, they don’t. Or, if they do, their reservations are overcome by the desire to feel important and powerful at others’ expense. Thus what should have been the greatest day in a man’s life — accomplishing something never before done in the history of humanity — was instead derailed by people with their own axes to grind.
A look around the ESA website tells us:
ESA has a comprehensive gender equality policy and encourages applications from qualified women, particularly in scientific, engineering and management areas.
SA follows an equal opportunity policy, the main purpose of which is to improve the representation of female staff, particularly in engineering and scientific fields, and at management level. Gender equality is recognised as being a basic principle of democracy and respect for the individual, as well as an essential factor in a balanced professional environment. To encourage gender equality among its staff it is ESA’s policy to:
increase awareness of the importance of an equal opportunity policy within the Agency pursue a pro-active policy towards the recruitment of women
address the constraints that arise from the need to reconcile family and professional lives.
ESA has already put a number of benefits and initiatives in place to help staff members reconcile their private and professional lives. Examples include parental/family leave, flexi-time and part-time work. Efforts are also underway at ESA’s main establishments to provide daycare facilities for the children of staff members, either on-site or at local daycare centres. The ESA sites ESTEC (Netherlands) and ESOC (Darmstadt, Germany), both now have a creche as well as a kindergarten (ESOC) and an after school care (ESTEC).
All that undone by a shirt.
Yes, say Chris Plante and Arielle Duhaime-Ross:
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.
And those are the women who actually make it that far. Those are the few who persevered even when they were discouraged from pursuing degrees in physics, chemistry, and math throughout high school. These are the women who forged on despite the fact that they were told by elementary school classmates and the media at large that girls who like science are nerdy and unattractive. This is the climate women who dream of working at NASA or the ESA come up against, every single day. This shirt is representative of all of that, and the ESA has yet to issue a statement or apologize for that.
And that shirt? Well, it’s sold out:
It’s out of this world…