By now you’ve heard or seen at least one point of view on the horrific shirt a scientist wore on the day they landed a robot on a comet. It’s reached a point of madness and we must get back to the basics. The problem is not the shirt. It’s not even necessarily the scientist. It’s what this whole situation represents. Now I know what you’re thinking “But Zakkarrii…” But nothing. Let me explain this whole thing through race, and then another way with suicide so you can understand the level of rage being displayed.
As a child there were very few things in media I could relate to. Stories in class were always about white children, magazines featured mostly white girls and women, people who were often celebrated constantly were white and television shows briefly featured black people as secondary characters. So I went through all of this absorption of the unspoken attitude and accepted it. I laughed at terrible black jokes, and took comfort when people said “But you’re not really black so it doesn’t matter.” I accepted as a teenager that I probably would never have a meaningful relationship or one that was not without racial problems because that is what was being told to me. People assumed I would go to Howard, a predominantly black university and apply for black scholarships. This attitude I grew up with was so normalized into the environment around me that by the time I was strong enough to speak up about it, I was still being told I was overreacting and that there were no real problems. My feelings of exclusion and the rage byproduct that came with it were not considered important, because my skin color dictated I was not important. The shit in this case is the attitude I was forced to accept, and the backlash is well the backlash.
Second loose example, suicide. For the past couple of years, I’ve taken far more interest in the reactions after teenagers kill themselves. Far too many end with “Yeah I guess his/her girl/boyfriend broke up with them and then they just lost it.” In talking to people who contemplate suicide (completely excluding myself from this for obvious reasons), it’s not just this one moment. It’s the culmination of all the moments, and the lack of positive ones, or really any that cancels them out. So what does that have to do with a scientist who wore a tacky shirt and was forced to change?
The shirt is just another reminder that the negative perception of women is so normalized that it seems absolutely ridiculous to question it. He didn’t have to say “Yay! Men did a thing and no women were involved.” It’s there in the display of naked women on the shirt. At the end of the day, women are still not held in as high a regard as the male counterparts, no matter what they achieve, how much they contribute, or how insulted they are, it won’t matter. They still will be seen as insignificant display models to be held as accessories, not equals. The shirt is not the statement, it’s the whisper of agreement. The man is not the face of all evil, but one more person who felt they were doing an okay thing. All of this from one stupid shirt? No my friends, the shirt is merely the tip of the iceberg of how much is still wrong with the perception of gender inequality. One more tiny reminder of where women stand.
Just because it goes unquestioned doesn’t mean it is acceptable.
Just because it is accepted as normal does not mean it is right.
Until next time,