“I don’t care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing.”
When I first saw this headline on Twitter, I honestly thought it was humorous, a parody of some petty Mother Grundy on social media.
I soon realized, however, that it was most certainly not a joke and the article which accompanied it was deadly serious too. (Although the headline did seem trollish in tone.)
It is an extraordinarily rigid and inflexible mind that uses political ideology to trivialise the achievements of an extremely accomplished astrophysicist. It would also be silly and not worth paying attention to, if that physicist had not been publicly humiliated and reduced to tears after what should have been the best day of his life.
Whether or not he was forced to apologise or if he chose to do it of his own volition is irrelevant. The fact that he felt he had to do it at all is absolutely outrageous.
You’ll have to excuse my emotional tone, but when I saw the previously ebullient Dr Matt Taylor, who had delighted me with his quirky enthusiasm on the day of the comet landing, cringing and trembling before the world’s media, a streak of white hot anger ran through me.
This man had done nothing wrong.
Boris Johnson writing in The Telegraph describes a similar reaction. Johnson writes:
“I watched that clip of Dr Taylor’s apology – at the moment of his supreme professional triumph – and I felt the red mist come down. It was like something from the show trials of Stalin, or from the sobbing testimony of the enemies of Kim Il-sung, before they were taken away and shot. It was like a scene from Mao’s cultural revolution when weeping intellectuals were forced to confess their crimes against the people.”
It is that last line, which is really powerful: weeping intellectuals were forced to confess their crimes against the people…
Is that not exactly what we witnessed in Taylor’s tearful apology?
Johnson has been accused of hyperbole, that it is hysterical to compare a few critical comments on social media to the savage political apparatus of despotic China during the Cultural Revolution.
But just as the feminists on Twitter see immense social forces at play on the garish décor of Dr Matt Taylor’s shirt, so their (the feminist’s) critics see evidence of a harsh authoritarianism in the unfair denigration of the unwitting scientist. It was completely crushing of his individuality and his right to express himself freely.
After all, is the personal not political?
And here’s a thought: Did the fact that the scantily clad women on his shirt were brandishing weaponry not make you think that he appreciated the idea of strong women? Though it was done in a crude way, the feminine images seemed to conform more to the archetype of Artemis than Ophelia.
That is just conjecture on my part. That may not be what he thinks at all, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to interpret that from the images alone.
Kim Kardashian received a lot of praise for posing similarly on the same day.
Why was Dr Matt Taylor not afforded the benefit of the doubt?
It is a grave social injustice that an innocent person was condemned so easily.
If you’d like to discuss this subject with me, please do contact me on Twitter @TheUrbanF0x or email me at: email@example.com
Also Read: Has Modern Feminism Lost Its Way?