I have to say this about the sh*tstorm over what is being irreverently termed shirtgate – it’s the final and ultimate straw in moving me away from ever calling myself a feminist again … at least, not in mixed company. Ah, well – a pity that the term has been so debased in the last few decades. Much as the memory of very real repression and denial of rights in the persons-of-color/African-American/Black community has been diminished, overlaid, generally abused and waved like a bloody shirt by cynical operators (to the detriment of the real-life community of color/African-American/Black-whatever they wish to be called this decade), so has the very real struggle for substantive legal, economic, economic and social rights for women also been debased and trivialized. Just as the current so-called champions of civil rights seem to use the concept as an all-purpose cover for deflecting any useful discussion of the impact of welfare, the trivialization of marriage, and glorification of the thug-life-style in the persons-of-color/African-American/Black community, the professional and very loud capital F-feminists seem to prefer a theatrical gesture over any substantial discussion of the real needs and concerns – and even the careers of ordinary women. Women whom it must be said, are usually capable, confident, tough, and love the men in their lives – fathers, brothers, husbands and sons.
The self-elected spokeswomen for feminism certainly do seem to pop up over and over again – they must take up a good few cards in the average main-stream media reporter’s Golden Rolodex. If it’s to do with reproductive rights, the harpies of professional feminism will be there, center stage and hogging the microphone. For a particular palette of similar issues, they will also be there, likely wearing vagina costumes, tampon earrings, and screeching about the patriarchy. It appears that capital-letter Feminism is now an excuse to be a man-hating, vengeful, and easily-provoked harpy. They also seem to have a nice line in bullying those – male and female alike – who do not agree with them in every jot and tittle. For the nastiest and most prolonged episode of this in recent history, I give you Sarah Palin; a woman of intelligence and considerable political skill (acquired without marrying into a political family or being the spawn of one), monstered enthusiastically by the professional feminists, and some whom I had originally thought were above that kind of doctrinaire intellectual snobbery. (Yes, looking at you, Peggy Noonan.)
In this most recent case, the target of the professional feminists has been a youngish scientist who was part of a team responsible for landing a probe on a moving comet. This has been compared to a sharpshooter with a perch in a helicopter flying over New York aiming at and hitting a humming-bird who will be hovering over a particular flower five minutes from now in Wyoming. And the big takeaway which the professional harpy feminists took away from it? A blogger/writer at the Atlantic, one Rose Eveleth (whom I have never heard of before this; yay, chica, you’ve made yourself famous!) took one look at this stupendous achievement and decided to cry ‘sexism’ over the shirt that the scientist was wearing in televised interviews.
An ‘aloha’ style short-sleeved shirt made from fabric with images of busty and space-blaster-armed women, taken from old science fiction illustrations. Apparently in Ms Eveleth’s mind, such images are harmful to women, and make them feel unwelcome in STEM fields. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion – and mine is that having a public conniption-fit over a shirt with old pop science-fiction images of women on it is too Victorian for words. This mentality is akin to the legendary delicacy of putting drawers on piano legs. Frankly, my dear – if you can’t handle such horrid sights, you might be better off keeping yourself housebound, laying on a fainting-couch with a perfume-drenched hankie over your fevered brow, rather than pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or medicine.
Strong and confident women are not threatened by the sight of such a shirt, or much else, come to think on it. Which reminds me of a small incident very early in my own career in the military; when a new bulletin board went up in the AFRTS breakroom of the station at FEN-Misawa, and some of the guys threatened to post pinups of scantily-clad women on it. My friend Marsh and I did not faint dead away, or break into tears, or threaten to sic the social actions office on them. Nothing of the sort; we simply got a copy of Playgirl, removed the male pinup from it, applied a discrete paper fig-leaf to the page, and added it to the bulletin board. Whereupon one of our male NCO colleagues (balding and a titch on the heavy side) looked at it and said, “What’s he got that I haven’t got?” and I said, “More hair and about fifty pounds less.”
And then we all laughed, and were friends, and all the pinups came down. That, young Rose, is how it is done by real women in the real world – not by coercing an apology through a hash-tag storm and public demonstrations of irrelevant outrage.
(Cross-posted at www.ncobrief.com)