Recently in the news we’ve had a couple of examples of inappropriate behaviours from white men in positions of power.One of these is an international story, the other occurred right here in lil ol’ New Zealand. Both of them were reported in fascinating ways.
First off, there was the case of Dr Matt Taylor and his shirt. Dr Taylor was the spokesperson for the European mission that landed a spacecraft on a moving comet (I just want to pause and go, that’s fucking awesome that we did that). When it was announced that the mission had been successful, Dr Taylor fronted a bunch of media wearing a shirt. A sexist shirt. All over the shirt were images of women in states of undress. It’s a sexist trope, the sort of thing you find in Duke Nukem, or millions of other video games, or most movies.
It overshadowed a huge scientific breakthrough. And it should have. Because, as local science and bird fanatic Kimberley Collins said:
“HE IS WEARING A SHIRT THAT REPRESENTS EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH WOMEN IN SCIENCE.”
The Guardian in the UK climbed into him for his choice of shirt. They did not hold back. They immediately called the shirt “sexist”. There was no “alleged” they didn’t hide behind words like “controversial” they just straight up called it sexist. Good stuff.
Unfortunately, we in New Zealand were not treated to the same level of journalistic thoroughness. Now admittedly stories of this ilk tend to be taken from overseas newswires but maybe a better article could have been used. When Dr Taylor went on TV and emotionally apologised for the shirt the Herald, in its infinite awesomeness, printed the following article:
British physicist Matt Taylor brimmed with excitement as the European Space Agency’s Philae lander successfully separated from the Rosetta spacecraft, showing off a colorful tattoo on his thigh of both, while proclaiming “we’re making history.”
But it was his garish bowling shirt that drew more attention than the unconventional Rosetta project scientist’s words or ink a collage of pinup girls in various states of undress.
Summarizing the firestorm, the Guardian proclaimed in a blog post: “ESA can land their robot on a comet. But they still can’t see misogyny under their noses.”
On Friday, Taylor ” wearing a non-descript navy-blue ESA hoodie ” offered an unsolicited apology.
“I made a big mistake and I offended many people,” he said, breaking down in tears. “And I’m very sorry about this.
“Garish bowling shirt” “the Guardian proclaimed in a blog post…”.
Notice how this particular piece a) doesn’t mention that the shirt is sexist, and b) makes it clear that it was the GUARDIAN who said it was misogynistic. Those bloody namby pamby woolly woofters at the pinko politically correct paper. They’re the ones who are up in arms about this. Not us at the Herald. To us it was just a garish bowling shirt.
Then, today Billie took a photo of a column/photo in the Dominion Post. The column was written by London Mayor Boris Johnson and he was enraged by the outpouring of opprobrium towards Dr Taylor. And in their infinite wisdom, the Dom Post saw fit to have the following photo and caption:
A report provided to the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie did not establish conduct which would have led to Sutton being dismissed and Rennie said he would not have asked him to stand down.
There’s a quote from the Prime Minister saying what a good bloke Sutton is. Oh then there’s the bit where we learn that Sutton has worked SO hard at CERA that he’s had to miss school trips and camps. The poor dear. Sutton “spoke from the heart” apparently. Sutton’s wife was on hand to offer her support, she wished that this hadn’t happened in such a “public, hideous way”. I guess she means she wished he hadn’t been caught? She also said he was “too relaxed, too informal”.
I think the words you’re looking for there are “too sexist.”
Then the Mayor of Christchurch also said she’d miss Sutton because of what a good guy he is. Also the head of the SSC said he was a top bloke. Even Labour and Green MPs come in and say how hard this must have been for Sutton.
Fuck that. How hard must it have been for his victim? The person who had had enough and came forward to complain. How do you think anyone who is being harassed at work feels now, reading this article where we hear that the harasser is such a good guy and how much he’ll be missed? He was sexist. He admitted it. He was inappropriate. He’s quit his job.
So here’s two examples of ‘casual misogyny’. And in both cases the perpetrators admit their own wrong-doing and yet the media paints them as sympathetic figures.
Honestly, where is the ethics in video game journalism these days?