Comet lander scientist apologises for shirt; mixed reactions

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by Hayabusa, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. Hayabusa Venomous

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    BBC News link to the story.

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    What are your guys' thoughts about this?

    Personally, I do think it was a really bad idea for him to wear that shirt in the public view. Some people try to defend the choice by stating it was made by a female, or he gets to wear whatever he feels like because he landed on a comet, but I really disagree with that notion. He's a professional, in a professional setting, and the last thing he should be wearing is something that objectifies women like this. I'm glad he apologized, and I hope that the situation does blow over soon so that people can give him the respect he deserves for what he did, but I'm really annoyed by the idea that someone's achievements can instantly cover up for their mistakes. To me, it's pretty much the same as a person making a racist joke on live television but saying "It's ok guys, I cured cancer!"

    And please, if you're not going to actually discuss this, don't bother with comments like "talk about the comet not the shirt." That's a different subject and has its own place.
     
  2. Makaze Some kind of mercenary

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    I do not believe the shirt in question is as offensive as implied. Certainly not worth mentioning as anything but a fashion statement. As far as I can tell it was just a shirt with a bunch of anime girls on it. It may have been the wrong shirt for the time and place, but it was not the same as a direct insult. To use your example, what if someone wore a shirt with Barret from Final Fantasy VII on it and people called it out as a racist shirt? And then the person apologized for it earnestly upon being criticized? And then said, 'I cured cancer', without the 'it's okay'? Still feel like making them feel terrible?

    That's what happened here (more or less). The man himself is clearly upset by the accusations and will never be able to wear the shirt again without remembering this fiasco. No matter how I look at it, the crowd is at fault on this one.
     
  3. Hayabusa Venomous

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    I didn't call the shirt a direct insult. There's no doubt in my mind that he had no intention to insult anyone, but that doesn't change the fact that he did wear this shirt and knew many people would see it around the world.

    The shirt is right there in my first post to look at.

    Well, yeah; if you're a public figure in a professional setting, and you make the choice to wear something that stereotypes a certain group of people, I think you do deserve criticism for it. And he won't be able to wear the shirt anymore in public? I'm pretty sure he's got plenty of other shirts to wear.

    If he didn't want those accusations, he should have made a wiser choice in what he wore in a professional setting. He's not making a hate speech, but he is sharing through his attire the idea that people ought to be treated as objects.

    I've already said that I'm glad he apologized and hope that he still does get the recognition he deserves, but seriously, doesn't take that much thought to wear something that isn't blatantly objectifying.
     
  4. Makaze Some kind of mercenary

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    True, but it isn't worth discussing behind his back. It is too arbitrary and meaningless for me to have an interest in publicly critiquing him for it. Damage is done, he apologized, there is no point in making things worse.

    They are making an example of him rather than thinking about the offense rationally.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
  5. 61 No. B

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    People looking to make an issue out of anything they possibly can. Not a shirt that should be worn in a professional setting, sure (not because it's "objectifying" but because it's unprofessional), but certainly not worth making a big deal out of it. I almost don't want to post about it because in my mind it's not even something worth mentioning and I don't want to dignify the scandal that's been concocted.
     
  6. Hayabusa Venomous

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    I'm not interested in the scandal part.

    What really gets me is how people are defending what he's wearing simply due to what he's done.

    Worst of all is when people try to show up people with my opinion by bringing up rape culture. Stuff along the lines of "Don't you guys feel like hypocrites saying he deserves what he got because of what he wore?" As if the two kinds of circumstances are equivalent.

    I guess I'm less interested in this particular instance, and more interested in how far people would go defending someone. Hence the example I brought up.
     
  7. Mish clod

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    I would defend him, both because of his achievement and because I don't think the shirt warranted the reaction it got.

    On the same line of thinking, if the person who cures cancer also happens to be a horrible racist, so be it..
     
  8. Hayabusa Venomous

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    You have to think about what it means though to wear something like that and be seen as a positive role model. What your statement says is, basically, it's ok if I do something good for people while I'm also displaying a portrayal of women as objects to look upon for enjoyment rather than with respect.

    Again, I think context is vastly important. If he wore that shirt on the street? Fine, he's only representing himself. A bad display but whatever. But as a member of the scientific community, being displayed to a huge audience, for a press conference meant to be about the comet landing?

    The racist person curing cancer is accepted? "Hey, anyone who wants to be a scientist, it's totally ok to be racist! Nobody's gonna care!"

    Why can't we recognize what people do well while also telling them what they did wrong?
     
  9. Makaze Some kind of mercenary

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    Because as you just said, context is important. They are two separate issues and they should be kept separate. As things stand, many people have completely forgotten about what he did and only remember the controversy. If this debate had started up a week later instead of during the interview, I would have significantly less to say against it.
     
  10. Patman Bof

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    Oh America ...
    This is embarassing.
    I hope he apologized to get people to move the **** on, not because he thought it was called for.
     
  11. Hexin Hollow Bastion Committee

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    Despite everything that's been debated here...^What Patman said. Right with ya...
     
  12. Misty gimme kiss

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    I'm very troubled that this is considered a work-safe garment. Had someone walked in in the state of undress of the women on his shirt, I refuse to believe a manager or a supervisor would not be called over, and the person either sent home or forced to cover up. Yet because it's printed on a shirt, it's okay?

    I'm with Hayabusa on this, there's no reason to wear a shirt like this to your job -- especially if you're working in a publicized environment -- and there's not any meritable defense I can see for it. It doesn't make the landing less impressive or meaningful or anything, and news about the shirt probably shouldn't eclipse news about the scientific achievement, but I'm also glad that it's bringing attention to the exclusion and/or mistreatment of women in the STEM fields. There's a larger context that can't be ignored here.
     
  13. Patman Bof

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    Riddle me this, would you be mad about it had the shirt displayed topless men (as in actually topless) ?
    This dude is a scientist, his "job" that day was to brag on TV, I' d wager that was the equivalent of a field trip to that giant nerd. Look at his arms, see those tatoos ? They' re usually frowned upon in the work environment too. That is if your job relies on human interactions and your boss decided that was reason enough to objectify you, but scientists are in the facts business. The truth doesn' t need any lipstick. If you judge books by their covers and/or scream and giggle when you see pee pee parts then science is definitely not for you.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  14. Misty gimme kiss

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    I'm not particularly prudish about nudity, though I do agree that some of the reactions to his shirt are from more conservative folk. But firstly, the shirt is clearly catering towards the male gaze rather than being an artistic or natural portrayal of the female body. Secondly, a topless man wouldn't be acceptable in the workplace either -- and especially not a man in his underwear.

    If your position is that America is too Puritannical about the human body and nudity then I totally agree. But I highly doubt this man wore the top to protest that, and we cannot turn him into some sort of body positivity martyr. Furthermore, if we are analyzing the American society at large, as you suggest by hinting at its conservative values, we by the same token cannot ignore the gender analysis of the situation, which is more so what I'm concerned with.

    I also find it somewhat important to note that I support many women who choose to go out in public topless; I live in one of the few states where it is legal. Also, I'm typing this post naked.
     
  15. Patman Bof

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    Clearly. You know, I' ve always had disastrous grades in literature. It kept bringing my bullshit detector in the red.

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    What I think about that shirt is that people are authoritatively putting an awful lot of things in its mouth. Which is quite a feat considering it doesn' t have any. That also explains why I' m allergic to Anita Sarkeesian.

    No really ? I can' t help but notice you haven' t answered my question.

    I simply do not care one bit why he chose that shirt. If being a topless woman does not a **** make then wearing that shirt does not a misogynist make. Just trying to be consistent. I' m still confused as to why you mind that shirt exactly.
     
  16. Misty gimme kiss

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    Oh I've always hated this. First of all, for writing in particular, it's bullshit. I don't fancy myself the queen of literature or anything, but I do read quite a bit, I study literature, and I write from time to time (not on any kind of professional level but enough to call bullshit here). Details in (good) writing are intentional. If the author feels the need to mention the curtains, there's probably a reason for it -- they may want to point out how they're covering the windows, making the room dark, whatever, to set the atmosphere for the scene. If the author feels the need to specify that the curtains are blue, you can damn well bet they have a reason. Sometimes it is as simple as being descriptive and painting an image for the reader, and other times -- depending on the context -- it can mean something more. Specific details are rarely selected by chance or on a whim. Color symbolism in particular has a long history in literature across many different cultures; many times the associations with a color, symbol, or image are based on the culture's values (e.g. in Western culture, the association of the color white and doves with purity and innocence stems from Christianity) or symbols in our everyday life, and they have basis in science. Nearly every medium takes advantage of this -- there's a reason many fast food chains use red and yellow as their principal colors. Even if the author did not consciously select the color blue knowing the emotion and associations that come along with it, if they chose it, it may have been a subconscious selection to once again reflect the scene or meaning they are trying to create.

    Furthermore, to quote from How to Analyze Poetry:
    It is a disservice and disrespect to the author to assume them so unfamiliar and unskilled in the craft of writing that they simply throw details out for the sake of details without any purpose behind them. Some writers do (Hemingway resented the roundabout in writing, preferring to write plainly and say what he meant -- which is why he can be a very divisive writer), and we must learn to distinguish between the symbolic, meaningful details and the ones that simply paint a picture. Ripping from their context as this graphic does removes the ability to distinguish.

    The beauty of literature -- and any art form, for that matter -- lies in its flexibility. It can mean most any thing to any one. Five people can read a book or a poem, or look at a painting, and walk away with five different interpretations of it. Our life experiences, our personality, our values, everything -- they inform how we experience something and how we understand it. And everyone's interpretation is valid. However, when analyzing literature, one must reinforce their interpretations with evidence for the text; if you do so in an effective way, your interpretation is valid and acceptable, academically, even if I don't personally agree with it. To once again return to the curtains example (and re-emphasize my previous point about it being ripped from its (imaginary) context), if the line came from a paragraph about how dejected a character was and the author made a point to mention the blue curtains, it becomes all the more likely that the detail was placed by the author to contribute to that meaning.

    Finally, I take issue with this idea that the "author" is all upset about the teacher's interpretation. When published, produced, and then read by the masses, a piece of art ceases to belong exclusively to the writer. It's opened to that world of analysis, and the author's purpose does not trump every one elses'. So what if the author didn't mean a particular thing? Does it matter? If that is something felt by a person, does the author's intent truly affect that? If that person is able to reinforce their interpretation with examples from the text and made a sound argument for it, again, does it matter at all?
    In general, yes, it would be inappropriate for a person to wear a top featuring scantily clad men in such a workplace, unless maybe you're a lifeguard or otherwise in a profession where partial nudity is acceptable. Again it's a contextual thing, but in this particular context, this man's shirt was completely inappropriate.
    Those are completely different scenarios. A topless woman is simply an unclothed human; a man wearing this shirt is supporting a system that objectifies and commercializes a woman's body for the male gaze and pleasure. Once again, his apology offers no indication that he wore the shirt as a protest or to empower women -- which, misguided as those intents would be, I find them more sympathetic than objectification.

    To relate to my objection to your image, it's once again removing context. You're saying you don't object to the shirt on principal, which is fine -- I'm saying that, in this context, it is inappropriate and offensive.
     
  17. Patman Bof

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    I' m familiar with the death of the author theory. Not every interpretation is equally valid, some are demonstrably wrong. That picture isn' t saying the author never means anything by his/her details, it' s merely asking the teacher how the **** would he know. But maybe we should ask its author to make sure. xD

    Okay I digress, the point was that these interpretations are rarely objectively true, in the empirical sense, and I like to keep that in mind. Don' t worry, I' m not deprived of imagination. I consume a lot of entertainment and I love, say, to explore Silent Hill and let its abstract art send sparks all over my brain.

    Is that guy just a desperately horny dude ? It is a possibility, and I do see why you would think it' s the most likely in the US, but I just put my finger on where we differ exactly : if he was a horny dude I wouldn' t have a problem with it. If having objectifying fantasies is wrong then color me guilty (and on a side note, is there a non objectifying kind ?). I didn' t choose my fantasies and am not ashamed of them. I would be totally grossed out if I was to transpose some of them into reality, but I didn' t see anything on that shirt proving this dude can' t separate those two.

    That' s why I don' t mind porn. I do have a problem with the industry as it functions right now, but there are ways to go about it I' d be 100% fine with. If memory serves you however do mind porn.

    I did give you the context : a nerd invited on TV to brag about scientific achievements his shirt has jack **** to do with. Whenever it comes to science all I care about is the substance, whatever form it happened to come in is utterly anecdotal to me.
     
  18. Misty gimme kiss

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    That's interpretation though -- the teacher deciphering the meanings and significance behind details and symbols in the text.
    We had a thread on here about objectification not too long ago (which you posted in, but it's several pages back by now -- might be fun to revive) and how objectification can be naturally linked to sexuality -- how the line can be blurred a bit and how it's not necessarily a bad thing, as sex between loving and caring partners can still, to some degree, be objectifying. It's turning a person into a physical object in a way, and that's fine. But that's sort of... meant for the bedroom, not really this setting?
    I have mixed thoughts. I mean obviously there are gross and horrible things in porn, like child porn, and the representation of body types races and sexualities can use a lot of work, and the conditions for porn actors and actresses aren't great, and a whole host of other things, but obviously not all porn is like that. To be honest I don't know enough about it to judge too well. As for personal preference, well, maybe a different story for a different thread, haha.
    But see, what sort of message does that send? I saw an interesting post on tumblr that criticized it by saying that women -- who are already discriminated against and excluded from STEM fields -- who might be interested in that science and want to be apart of the scientific community have to see that and watch that and think "this is the kind of person I am going to have to work alongside." By appearing in public like this he is representing the scientific community and I can't imagine this is how they would want to be portrayed.
     
  19. Patman Bof

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    Yeah but we weren' t all given 20/20 grades. In practice it wasn' t an exercise in giving your genuine input (mine often being the curtains were ****ing blue type, don' t know, don' t care), it was an exercise in catering to your teacher' s views. Never been big on sycophancy. Besides my teacher was encouraging me, I persevered and my grades were gradually picking up, but in the semester bill he sent to my parents his comment was "spent all semester with his fingers stuck up his ass". I' ll let you guess how quickly I stopped listening to anything he had to say.

    My grades in philosophy were much better though.

    Read the gist of it yesterday on a philosophical website. Yes, I don' t assume you sell movie tickets for the sake of selling movie tickets. We objectify people all day long, even ourselves. We are objects. As far as I can tell it only becomes a problem when you ignore consent, but I don' t expect the lady on that shirt to ever talk.

    Err ... it ' s TV ? Surely you' ve seen much worse during the commercials, no ? I' m not sure what to say except that French TV has fewer brooms up its ass. And by the way, I remember fondly watching this movie on TV when I was a kid, numerous times :


    Personally I wouldn' t wear that ... shirt ... thing ... anywhere. Not given the choice.

    Again, if they can make that kind of hasty judgement based on that shirt alone, I' m not sure they' d rock at science. No clue what you' re talking about regarding STEM fields discrimination, but if there' s something to it that sounds like a much more serious contention.

    Scientists are usually portrayed as a bunch of all farts who barely know what fun means, in a sense that guy is refreshing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014