Social Justice Warriors Take Fight To The Final Frontier: Mars!
An article in the Guardian last week asked “How can our future Mars colonies be free of sexism and racism?” In it the author, Martin Robbins, is concerned that Mars will just be another oppressive white male patriarchy, and that our desire to conquer the red planet is akin to the ideology of manifest destiny.
Manifest Destiny. But historically, this kind of attitude has come with two big problems.
Firstly, destiny is rarely great for the people already at the destination. When Africans moved north to colonise Europe they obliterated the Neanderthals. When Europeans seized the New World, its cultures were virtually extinguished. Luckily the only population on Mars that we know of is a handful of rovers, but no doubt we’ll start a war anyway, before dragging them into some form of slavery or oppression. It’s just what we do.
How we start a war when there is no life on Mars is a concept I’m still trying to wrap my head around but it must be true because, “It’s just what we do.”
But the worst part is just how white the whole endeavor is going to be. “To paraphrase Douglas Adams: “Space is white. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly white it is.” It’s also very male and European. Women in space-colony fiction have generally been presented as sexy walking vaginas, whose main purpose is to provide the male astronauts with a place to dock their penis at night. This being necessary in order to “ensure the survival of the species,” says Robbins.
So the reason we must worry about sexism in space is because of science-fiction from the 1950s? Attitudes have progressed since then. Take Ripley from the Alien franchise or any of the female characters in the cult hit Firefly. What about an entire Star Trek series with female Captain Janeway of Voyager? If it’s science fiction that we’re going by, the evidence just doesn’t support the conclusion that females in space are just seen as “penis docking stations” to paraphrase.
Robbins attempts to back up her claim by quoting a comment made by the director of Russia’s top space medical institute, Professor Anatoly Grigoryev, back in 2005. Grigoryev said “After all, women are fragile and delicate creatures; that is why men should lead the way to distant planets and carry women there in their strong hands.”
It’s not a secret that Russia remains a largely chauvinistic society but Grigoryev comes from a different time. He was 61 when he made that comment and is now 71.
Robbins also forgets to mention that those comments received a strong response from Art Dula, an American space lawyer who’s been chief counsel for space commercialization projects for over 20 years. Dula said,
Grigoryev should either apologize immediately or face the consequences.
“Discrimination against women would make his organization, and any organizations whose activities it controls, possibly including the Russian Federal Space Agency, ineligible to contract with or receive funds from the U.S. government or any U.S. government contractor,” Dula said in a statement e-mailed to MSNBC.com.
He said the U.S. government should tell Russian space officials that, “if Mr. Grigoryev meant what he said, then the U.S. will not provide funding, nor can they expect to meet and work with NASA personnel or contractors.”
These concerns are already being tackled.
Space programs are not without their hiccups with sexism however. In 1999-2000, during an isolation chamber test that had an international crew including 32-year-old Judith Lapierre, a Ph.D. health sciences specialist. The test ran for 110 days and less than a month into Lapierre’s run she was twice forcibly french-kissed by the Russian team commander. It appears these incidents are isolated to dealing with the Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Problems, directed by Grigoryev.
It wouldn’t be a feminist article without mentioning rape though. “The first woman to be raped in space has probably already been born,” notes Robbins. The narrative of rapists lurking around every corner, or in this case every pod, doesn’t fly however.
Robbins finishes up by quoting a D N Lee article in Scientific American about the problems Lee sees with space projects. “When we look around and see a homogenous group of individuals discussing these issues – issues that command insane budgets, we should pause. Why aren’t other voices and perspectives at the table? How much is this conversation being controlled (framed, initiated, directed, routed) by capitalist and political interests of the (few) people at the table?”
“The last thing we need is to wake up in 50 years and find that a bunch of #gamergate nobheads are running Mars,” concludes Robbins.
I’m not going to get into the whole GamerGate thing, that’s an entire article on itself, but for argument’s sake let’s say they were a problem, what of it? If it was Gamergaters that invested their time, money, and risked their lives to colonize Mars, what say do you have in the matter at all? If you don’t want them running it then build your own space program and start your own colony.
Social justice warriors have a tendency to try and inject themselves in other people’s projects and spaces, latching on like some sort of parasitic face-hugger from Aliens. Why aren’t other voices and perspectives at the table? Because SJWs, you have nothing to do with their projects and add no value.
You’re not investors, or scientists, or engineers and in cases like Elon Musk‘s SpaceX, you have no say in a private enterprise.