Opinion

#Shirtstorm: When The Brilliant Are Hurt By Casual Marxism

Robert Mariani Opinion Editor

When you Google the name “Matt Taylor,” you see a man that apparently made an apocalyptic affront to the female gender, all because of a shirt that he was wearing. You’ll eventually learn that he also happened to be on the team that just made a historic breakthrough by successfully sending a lander to a comet.

During an interview about that achievement, Taylor wore a bowling shirt. The shirt, made by Taylor’s female friend, is adorned with sexy ladies. It’s kind of an ugly shirt if you ask me, but I’ve been described as looking like a hipster minus the fashion sense. If you ask the more fashionable internet feminists, on the other hand, he took women back to the 19th century.

It looks like this outrage could be a particularly anomalous, isolated incident of overreaction, but it isn’t. This is just another struggle session to make sure that there is no aspect of human life that is free from the One True Ideology.

The Verge, a tech site that tipped its hand as unethical and agenda-pushing during GamerGate, ran a headline reading, “I don’t care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing.” They are literally convinced that fashion, in both the clothing and radical chic senses, is so important that they don’t even care about forward leaps in science. Think I am mischaracterizing them? The subtitle reads “That’s one small step for man, three steps back for humankind.” Wearing a shirt that the groovy people at The Verge don’t like is three times as bad as making a breakthrough in space exploration is good.

The feminism that we have making noise right now isn’t the feminism that fought for equality and against discrimination. Rather than being based in enlightenment values of humanism and equality under the law, it is grounded in neo-Marxist theory of power and oppression. You know when people say that only women can be victims of sexism because of some non-falsifiable, abstract, aggregate definition of power? You were hearing neo-Marxist critical theory.

White males, as it goes, cannot be victims of oppression, because “they” have the power. Interestingly enough, white-male-with-a-PhD Matt Taylor was shamed into crying on camera over something as trivial as a shirt. This doesn’t logically follow, but who gives a shit? Logic is a probably a construct that exists to legitimate the oppression of women!

Sexism exists, and like racism, it sucks. When someone invokes the idea with the modifier “invisible” or “casual,” there is a good chance that all you’re doing is writing a blank check to brand a person as an enemy of ideology. Matt Taylor is probably not a sexist. He was not unconsciously trying to oppress women. The supposed marginalization of women was invisible because, because like most things you can’t prove are there, it didn’t exist. By the way, if your group has the kind of blank check where you can pillory anyone who displeases you, you may want to rethink your definition of “power.”

This phenomenon seems to be escalating. It certainly requires more and more ludicrous things to classify as “oppressive” in order to stoke its never-ending series of self-legitimating moral panics. If we use rationalism — you know, the system of thought that fucking lands spacecraft on comets – we can guess that Taylor’s shirt choice came from social awkwardness or idiosyncratic fashion sense. The fact that this occurs so frequently and so uncritically is startling. The irony of the casual, invisible sexism crowd is just how casual and underreported their Marxist praxis is.

The campaign of ideological imperialism is biting off more than it can chew. With the apology, this battle was a tactical victory for Marxo-feminists, but I predict that it is a strategic loss. Marxism imposes its dogma in spaces where none existed before, but it mobilizes entirely new and previously apathetic demographics against it. We saw it with GamerGate, and now we’re seeing it with people who think space exploration is cool. Bad news for the ideologues: that’s pretty much everyone.

Maybe we don’t have many women in tech because this kind of feminism is so popular. Spacecraft built with “oppression theory” don’t leave the ground.