The Tim Hunt affair was well over a month ago, and the dust has settled. Cathy Young, in Reason, looks back and puts it all together in perhaps the clearest exposition of the whole wretched business that we're likely to get. What, she wonders, would have happened if the original three complainants, St Louis, Blum and Oransky, had reported Sir Tim's speech accurately?
And here’s the answer: There would have been no story to report. If an accurate account of the luncheon and of Hunt’s remarks had appeared in a general report on the conference, his joke would probably have offended a few of the Sisters of Perpetual Grievance. But it’s unlikely that the outrage would have spread far and wide.
In her latest blogpost on the Hunt scandal, [Louise] Mensch catalogues numerous misleading, contradictory, and self-contradictory statements by Hunt’s accusers, suggesting that they have been knowingly dishonest. This is an extremely serious charge that is difficult to prove or disprove—it is just as possible that they simply saw the events through the filter of their own biases. A deliberate conspiracy to frame an innocent scientist for misogyny seems far-fetched; more likely, St. Louis and her allies were genuinely offended by Hunt’s remark about his "trouble with girls," allowed their offended sensibilities to color their perception of the rest of his comments, and ran with what they thought was a bombshell of a story....
Of course, the rest of the media and the commentariat did little better in their rush to judgment. No one bothered to ask how plausible it was that a scientist who had worked with women and was married to a prominent female scientist actually believed women should be relegated to their own all-girl labs—and would stand up and say that to a roomful of female scientists and journalists. The "sexist scientist" narrative was too good. As Guardian commentator Ann Perkins wrote with open glee, "The mask has not so much slipped as crashed to the floor. … Here at last is someone who has come out with it. Women at work are a nuisance." Jarringly, Perkins called this "a moment to savor"—not, as some thought, because of Hunt’s humiliation, but because he had supposedly laid bare the pervasive hidden misogyny women face.