Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Rosetta Mission: Highlights the Asshole brand of Feminism

On November 12th 2014, ESA's Rosetta mission made history by landing on a comet.  Just to convey the magnitude of this achievement, here are some quotes from the article on the European Space Agency's page: 

“Our ambitious Rosetta mission has secured a place in the history books: not only is it the first to rendezvous with and orbit a comet, but it is now also the first to deliver a lander to a comet’s surface,” noted Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General.

“With Rosetta we are opening a door to the origin of planet Earth and fostering a better understanding of our future. ESA and its Rosetta mission partners have achieved something extraordinary today.”
“After more than 10 years travelling through space, we’re now making the best ever scientific analysis of one of the oldest remnants of our Solar System,” said Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
“Decades of preparation have paved the way for today’s success, ensuring that Rosetta continues to be a game-changer in cometary science and space exploration.”
*******
A real game-changer indeed. Both in realms of science and feminism. Claudia Alexander, an amazing research scientist and woman of colour (yay!) was a part of this incredible mission.
Time for feminists to celebrate? We have come a long, long way... wait...hold up...
Instead of celebrating a total win for humankind, the puritanical bowels of the feminist movement were given a couple of seconds in the spotlight during this historical event. 
In a strange dimension, where an unholy alliance between feminists and fatwa-ists occurs...Matt Taylor, leading Rosetta scientist, made the grave mistake of wearing a shirt covered in scantily dressed pin-up type women. Not a shirt that said "science is for boys, knitting is for girls" or one that said "titties" - because that would piss me right off, and rightfully so. 
He dared to wear something with illustrations of women in immodest clothing, heaven forbid. 
I consider myself a feminist, but its moments like these where I cringe at being associated with the word. While I would never let a few extremists define the movement for me, I do not like what it is turning into. The more we scream 'sexist' at benign things, the less likely the word is, to be taken seriously. 
I have come across many a Social Justice Warrior type on the internet, and all kinds make me uncomfortable. I consider myself very much a person who cares for all causes of equality and justice, but I do not want to be mistaken for these angry warrior people. 
I am a sex-positive feminist. I enjoy wearing corsets (satan's own device for the specific purpose of crushing a woman's spirit...), lipstick, and I have worn my share of bondage collars, attended several fetish events. I know there are feminists who find the entire BDSM lifestyle misogynistic. I would firmly disagree...because well... consent. Though outright violent misogynists sometimes hide under the guise of consensual BDSM, as we have seen recently with Jian Ghomeshi - I cannot say enough about the dishonesty, anti-kink and horrific nature of the Jian case, which is perhaps why I haven't attempted to put my feelings about this into a neat little blogpost.
I have heard of fem-warriors claiming that all penis-in-vagina sex is rape. Yeah....seriously...
----
I am a feminist and I am also an artist. I draw a lot of nude women, a lot of breasts - and some might say I am objectifying women, or that I am self-hating (that has been used to describe me in more instances than one :D). I have tattoos, I love tattoos and I *love* me a good-looking pin-up girl or guy. If I want to wear a shirt with a sexy man or woman on it, I fucking will. 
I will not cry wolf...and deteriorate the cause. I will not assume that every man is out to objectify, oppress or use me. 
These are murky waters to navigate, between the real sexists/misogynists, and the word police, thought police...shirt police. 
Women can be scientists, astronauts, doctors, teachers.....they can be different sizes, shapes...they can also be fetish models, pinup models, sex workers, or any profession they choose, and dress in as much or as little clothing as they like. And all of us feminists know that shaming women about their bodies is shitty, no matter what amount of clothing is involved. Coming from the part of the world I am from (Pakistan) and the part of the world I grew up in (Saudi Arabia) - I really value the ability to express myself freely. Because I did not have that growing up...thankfully, Canada provides me with this freedom in my adult life. 
In Saudi, all images of women are blacked out with a marker, they are told to cover up, stay inside and not be sexy, even their eyes are told not to be sexy.. Perhaps that is the reason why I celebrate sexy. I will not take kindly to anyone shaming anyone for the female form. The fact that you, western feminists, would impose this shirt-fatwa upon Matt Taylor is not ok with me. Had those images been of battered women or oppressed women I would have taken serious offence to his shirt. There was no trace of misogyny, there were illustrations. If scantily clad women are offensive to you, I suggest you stop engaging with the media, stop going to the beach....and get your ass in a burqa. 
One thing that has been made apparent through this is - how awful it is to focus on someone's clothing, to judge them for what they are wearing. We, as women go through that every day. Both in the East and in the West. 
As a tattooed and pierced non-conformist who has always been told by society what to wear I take this quite personally.
It perhaps wasn't the most professional choice of clothing, nor the best decision. (Something that could easily be said to me for a skirt too short, or a neckline too low) ....But is this really the focus when someone has just made history? Is it really worth making a very valuable contributor to society cry over?  He actually cried....because *you* didn't like his shirt. It's sad...because *you* are the assholes of feminism. What a shame.
How upset upsetting others has made him shows what kind of a person he is.... Matt Taylor, this is something you did not need to apologize for. But the fact that you did, shows you are bigger and better than this shit.
----
He is a quirky scientist, and he likes wearing sexy women on his shirt. Big. fucking. deal. 
You have to be careful how you use the label sexist, unless you want it to lose all meaning. 
I have opened the floodgates of feminist wrath, now what would your western, privileged feminism like to tell *me* ? - I still can't go to my home country and wear what I want (even jeans and a t-shirt are controversial in some areas)...so yes, please tell me how semi-naked women are bad and shameful...how people shouldn't have the freedom to see beauty in the female form.. I have heard it all before from the religious fundies. 

Have you been hanging out with these guys? 

Image from www.dailymail.co.uk




10 comments:

  1. Great article. Its interesting how in every cause there are extremists and how extreme views seem to trigger extreme reactions. A few enthusiastic feminists forget to check themselves and here they vilify someone who deserves the benefit of the doubt, then from the other side you see extreme responses. I have a woman friend who I know is a feminist who posts stupid things like. " I don't hate men so I don't need feminism." I'm sure there are a lot of people who agree with you on this topic. Most people don't have the courage to question those they think are on their side. I think you do a service to the cause by reminding people to stay focused on what matters. If you were in a shooting war and the person next to you was shooting into the ground, you'd be expected to help correct them without being reprimanded for your effort.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's difficult to know where to begin. I shall start with a tangent:

    Not everyone remembers that Soviet Communism under Stalin was accompanied by a heavy dose of traditional puritanism. Pornography was banned, dress was modest, women were largely kept in the home, and the idealized images of both sexes were bland and neutral.

    The Revolution apparently hated sex as much as the old church.

    This wasn’t just because Stalin was trained as a monk. It’s because any authoritarian state will hate anything that makes people think more of themselves than it. Sex makes people think of their own needs, their partner’s needs, and ultimately, their offspring’s needs. The needs of the state, the church, or the idea, take a distant fourth place.

    There are some Revolutionaries (some, not all) who hate the sex instinct every bit as much as the social order they try to overthrow. The Feminist Revolutionaries are no exception: there are some brands of feminism whose views on sexuality are indistinguishable from the Catholic Church. They find the desire to seek out and fuck other people as a dirty, shameful thing to be isolated and overcome. A dangerous link to a dangerous past. They hate depictions of eroticism. They hate courtship rituals. They hate young people’s preference for each other than to their ideology.

    So, even one of the greatest achievements of the last decade, and even an exemplary woman’s role in this achievement, becomes less important than a comic book “babe” on a man’s t-shirt.

    Sex, for any ideologue, is an intolerable reminder that there are some things beyond their control. There are some things women do need men for, there are some things men always will look for, and there are some people who are not worse off from this arrangement. To some extent we are all, men and women alike, objects – bodies, programmed by nature to seek out other bodies in order to create new little bodies. This will not change, it would be futile to try, and why should we even want to?

    And, oh how that threatens them!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am a feminist, I am a writer, I am a blogger, I am this, I am that....what the fuck we do about who the hell you are.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh Eiynah. As a Pakistani feminist I usually love the things you write, but this one just has strawman arguments and fallacies up the wazoo.

    1. "Crazy puritan feminists took away from the Rosetta mission". Actually, this guy did. In a mission that had so many women on board and could have been an example of women doing great work in science, this guy wears a douchey shirt with images of oversexualized women reminding the world in the end that we're still mostly just sex objects.

    2. No one is saying he should take it off and burn it. I believe this guy has the right to wear whatever he wants. At the end of the day I have no right to snatch it off him. But people also have the right to criticize it if it's in poor taste, without being called "angry fem-warriors"

    3. "Something that could easily be said to me for a skirt too short, or a neckline too low" except that this example is of other people sexualizing your body unnecessarily. This guy's shirt literally has pornographic images. There is a difference from treating a woman's body as inherently sexual if she's wearing short comfy clothing, and another where the women are all identical and literally looking like anime porn.

    4. "I'm a woman and I draw nude women" there is a fine but definite line between pornography and art. I guess this is a subject that requires its own article.

    5. "IF YOU WERE OFFENDED BY THIS UR A PURITAN AND FUNDO AND ANGRY SJW !!11!!1" Why are you making such binaries? You are doing the exact same thing internet trolls do when they gaslight any activists for criticizing anything that THEY don't personally find offensive.

    6. "I've seen fem-warriors claim p-i-v sex is all rape" that was a small and nutty minority and you are deliberately misrepresenting anyone who dares criticize this guy by lumping them with these crazies.

    Sex positivity is myopic in that not every woman feels empowered and liberated by it, and that should be okay. In a professional setting where you have respected female colleagues, this shouldn't have happened. And I have seen plenty of men's clothing that has boobs on it but never anything with dicks all over it. Please wear a shirt with naked men on it in public next time and see the kind of vitriol you get. Objectifying women's bodies= acceptable. Men? Not so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is really not very good.

      1: "this guy wears a douchey shirt with images of oversexualized women reminding the world in the end that we're still mostly just sex objects."

      Ok, woman ARE sex objects. So are men. But they are not just that. They are and can be many things, often at the same time. The fact that that kitch bit of art work is based on fantasy women says NOTHING about what most women are, still are, were or will be. If you cannot see that somebody can hold multiple views and opinions simultaneously you have a problem to address. Some of the women on the shirt have guns, does the shirt remind the world that women are warriors? This is nonsense on stilts.

      2: If you think such a thing is 'in poor taste' as in politically, then you probably are worthy of the title "angry fem-warriors". It's a big bag of nothing, yet it kicked off a big enough storm that the man broke down crying. This suggests it is not just a little note about taste.

      3: "This guy's shirt literally has pornographic images." No, it literally has exaggerations of such images. Porn is everywhere and freely available and it doesn't look like that. That shirt design has irony. I'll say that word again as it might be new to you, 'IRONY'. If you are incapable of stretching your mind far enough to see the difference between an ironic shirt and on that literally features actual pornographic images then you have something else to work on.

      4: "there is a fine but definite line between pornography and art." And you truly think that shirt is the former? Look and again and then look once more. Or try this, do you think he saw that shirt as an example of art or as pornography. I think if you are half smart and half honest the answer to that question should be enough to refute that point.

      5: Maybe that's fair. But in this case I would suggest it is true. Offense taken in that shirt shows a disposition worth calling out and worth mocking.

      6: "that was a small and nutty minority and you are deliberately misrepresenting anyone who dares criticize this guy by lumping them with these crazies. " Nope. This is crazy also, you just don't agree. I think people who think the former idea are more crazy than those offended by the shirt but both are certainly to be placed in the 'crazies' bin.

      "In a professional setting where you have respected female colleagues, this shouldn't have happened."

      You assert that but I await to hear from any of the actual women there about if they were offended. Your offence taken on their behalf is touching, but if you think it is a big bag of nothing, a non-issue, then it simply doesn't matter if it happened or not.

      "And I have seen plenty of men's clothing that has boobs on it but never anything with dicks all over it. Please wear a shirt with naked men on it in public next time and see the kind of vitriol you get."

      None of the women on that shirt were naked. I bet if you go out with a shirt with muscle bound biker men in torn t-shrts and tight jeans sweet FA will happen. Care to argue that?

      "Objectifying women's bodies= acceptable. Men? Not so much."

      Yeah. Right. Like I don't see perfect abs everywhere I see advertising. Like Diet Coke never released an advert. Are you just saying the first thing that comes to your mind? This comment reads as if you are.

      Delete
    2. i didn't read the article, but i just saw a documentary on that whole shitshow. i saw Claudia Alexander several times accrediting what she did as well as the whole freaking 10 year waste of money. rather than crashing one of the most expensive remote control toys in the Alpha quadrant on a rock to see what is in the water, the money would have been better spent cleaning up the water here for some poor Pakistani family, or a whole bunch of people. didn't see the shirt though. You are right, Eiynah about the trend to treat women as lesser beings or 2nd class citizens, or worse. In this day and age, why do we need laws saying that women should get equal pay for equal work, and they aren't enforced all that well. what do you mean women can't have sexy eyes. what do they expect women to do if they have pretty eyes? crap on the show the Doctors, it showed women are going to the cosmetologist to get their now over tweezed eyebrows fixed. one problem, after tweezing eye brows for years they don't grow back. now the trend is to have full natural brow, it was, in the past, trendy to have thin lines for brows. tattoos have been around for ions, neck ring stacking to push down the shoulders and rib cage of women in some cultures is also considered beautiful. binding the heads of babies in ancient Peru as well as Sumeria, to deform the skull to look a certain way. it is not always about choice to follow a trend, some times it is tradition. we humans do that, what we are told, or just to follow a trend. it is because we are pack animals and have an instinctive, innate drive to fit in, belong. it seems you have been Americanized, and welcome. Canada is part of North America.

      Delete
  5. Dear Anon,

    Its ok if we don't agree on everything. I am not infallible, feminism is not infallible, religion is not infallible. I would much rather we continue to question and critique things we take issue with as opposed to try to either agree with everything someone says, or disagree with it.

    I try not to let popular opinion define what I can and cannot say.

    Healthy respectful disagreements help us grow, and I for one, learn a lot from my disagreements with others. As long as it is respectful, I would encourage debate. So thank you for taking the time to write this comment.

    /"Crazy puritan feminists took away from the Rosetta mission". Actually, this guy did./

    I don't believe the above is a direct quote, it's misleading to put in quotation marks when paraphrasing. Anyhow, this is really the crux of the issue we disagree about. I don't think his choice of shirt should have had as much impact on the discussion about the mission as it did. He did not take away from it, the radicals expressing grief over this did. It was petty. And we can go back and forth on this, but in truth we just have opposing opinions.

    /this guy wears a douchey shirt with images of oversexualized women reminding the world in the end that we're still mostly just sex objects./

    Again, a matter of opinion... I found the shirt to be not so visually appealing, but taste is subjective. I also don't appreciate the implication that every time I express my sexuality I am compared to an object. I am a sexual being, and I have as much right to be one as a man. You know something that I find that sexualizes women unneccessarily is the idea that they have to be dressed modestly to not be thought of as objects.

    /This guy's shirt literally has pornographic images./

    Hypothetically, I would wear a shirt with pin-up images just to make a point. Also pin up and pornographic are very different. There are no sex acts portrayed on the shirt as far as i can see. I probably wouldn't wear such a shirt to work, but people tell me to take my piercings out for work too, and I will defend his right to push the professional work clothes boundaries, because I find those to be full of shit any way, and am personally affected by them.

    /"I'm a woman and I draw nude women" there is a fine but definite line between pornography and art. I guess this is a subject that requires its own article./

    I think you answered the question though... you cannot draw that line for anyone... at least not when sex acts are not depicted. To consider semi nudes 'pornographic' is so stifling and problematic to me.

    /"IF YOU WERE OFFENDED BY THIS UR A PURITAN AND FUNDO AND ANGRY SJW !!11!!1" Why are you making such binaries?/

    - again, incorrect usage of quotation marks....I don't believe that is a direct quote from my piece at all - I don't recall saying this sentence...so please don't put words in my mouth.

    /"I've seen fem-warriors claim p-i-v sex is all rape" that was a small and nutty minority and you are deliberately misrepresenting anyone who dares criticize this guy by lumping them with these crazies./

    - kind of like how you are misrepresenting me by making up quotes from my article? Also the kind of political correctness you are defending would be the first to tell you that you are an 'ableist' to use words like 'nutty' and 'crazies'. So yeah...

    cont'd

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As for the small 'nutty' minority....it might be small-ish for those who think PIV is always rape, but not so small amongst radical feminists who think that hetero relationships cannot be equal, not so small for the amount of radfems who think BDSM is misogynistc, and for those who think the pride parade should not be supported because it welcomes all kinds of diversity including kink, there are even more radfems who are Trans exclusionary, and sex worker exclusionary. If you cannot include certain groups in your feminism. You are not a movement that is about empowerment, I'm sorry. Extremists of any sort just aren't my cup of tea. Radical feminism and shirt policing...not my bag of nuts.

      /Sex positivity is myopic/

      I think you have made your perspective clear by this one phrase. If you think sex-positivity is not a good thing, and is short sighted, then there lies our problem. We cannot obviously agree on the issue of this shirt because we don't even agree on sex positivity being positive. And even though you are not 'one of those' radfems who thinks PIV is rape, you are a feminist who thinks sex positivity is myopic.

      /And I have seen plenty of men's clothing that has boobs on it but never anything with dicks all over it./

      You speak about fallacies in my writing, but le sigh, boobs and dicks are not comparable.. one of those things are genitals m'dear. I don't recall seeing many vaginas on Matt Taylor's shirt.

      Delete
    2. Eiynah, that boobs and dick comparison seems to be quite common to "social justice warriors." I find it on comments on almost any Youtube video regarding shirtgate or pro & anti-gamergate videos.

      Delete
  6. Agree with you 100%. Found your blog due to a post on Godless Spellchecker and that great open letter of yours. I have trouble knowing whether to call myself a feminist because I believe in equality, but I'm also tired of bullshit like shirtgate and the type of "social justice warrior" that tries to get any sort of sexuality from games banned. I would not give a shit if a woman had men (cartoon or real) she found attractive depicted on her shirt either. These ultra-PC people make me sick.

    ReplyDelete