Starling, when I told that sheriff we shouldn’t talk in front of a woman, that really burned you, didn’t it? It was just smoke, Starling. I had to get rid of him.
It matters, Mr Crawford. Cops look at you to see how to act. It matters.
This is my contribution to #shirtstorm.
I believe that Dr. Matt Taylor was not intentionally signalling disrespect for the women (such as Kathrin Altwegg) involved in the project. I believe that he is sincerely distressed to learn that he did, in fact, behave with disrespect toward the women involved in the project.
The following is a list of unimportant considerations in criticizing Dr. Taylor for wearing the shirt:
Whether the shirt was intended as a frivolous choice. Or intended as a nod to the friend who made it for him. Whether it was pin-up babes or sci-fi babes. Whether he is a nice man, or a socially awkward man, or an asshole (note, he does not seem to be an asshole, honestly). Whether it’s a tacky shirt or an awesome shirt.
These are irrelevant to the fact that wearing a shirt emblazoned with half-naked women to the comet landing matters. It matters because, as the screenwriter in Silence of the Lamb wrote (and as Jodie Foster recited with such meaning), people look to the person in charge to see how to treat the others on the team. When the man in charge openly displays on his clothes that women are pin-ups, literally decoration, it signals to everyone around you that you can dismiss them.
That’s wrong. First, it’s not factually true: the women who worked to successfully land on a comet are not women you should dismiss out of hand. Second, it is socially and ethically wrong (as the mission command) to behave in a manner that suggests you could diminish the women in the room by wearing pin-ups on your shirt.
Dismissing censure of this behavior as “offensisitivity” or as over-reacting or as not taking into account what Dr. Taylor was personally thinking when he put on the shirt is a straw man.