A Feminist Defense of Boobquake
Chances are you've heard about Boobquake. It went viral pretty fast.
In case you haven't: Iranian Muslim prayer leader Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was recently quoted as saying, "Many women who do not dress modestly... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."
No, really. I know, you thought earthquakes were caused by plate tectonics—but really, it's immodestly dressed women, leading young men astray.
So Jen McCreight—feminist/ atheist blogger, student leader, award-winning scholar in evolution and genetics, and all-around bad-ass—decided to conduct a fun little pop-science experiment: Encourage women to dress immodestly for one day, and see if there was any significant increase in earthquakes or seismic activity. It was meant to be a small, offhand joke among her blog readers and Facebook friends; instead, it went totally viral on the Internets, and wound up with news coverage on CNN, the BBC, the Washington Post, and all over the damn place. (Conflict of interest alert: I know McCreight, and have a friendly collegial relationship with her.)
But many feminists responded very negatively to Boobquake, calling it exploitative, demeaning, trivializing, objectifying, and a whole host of other sexist bad things. Beth Mann at Salon said, "Women on parade again ... sigh. Since when did we "stick it to the man" by wearing low-cut shirts or short shorts?... Unfortunately, we live in a world that sees that kind of freedom of expression as a photo opportunity or another cheap thrill." Jill at I Blame the Patriarchy described the event as "encouraging women to protest oppression by capitulating to Dude Nation’s fondest desire." Negar Mottahedeh and Golbarg Bashi) created a Facebook group in response, Brainquake... describing McCreight as a "so-called feminist," decrying how Boobquake "has aroused the evidently insatiable enthusiasm of the web community, male supporters in particular who can't wait to see 'regular' girls and women, many their direct friends to 'showing off their tits'," and arguing that "Violence against women and girls has a direct correlation to the sexualisation of women and girls." Etc. Etc.
So before I begin my rant, let me summarize.
A patriarchal, profoundly misogynist man used his position of religious authority to demonize and control women, and to irrelevantly blame the ills of the world on our vile, dangerous sexuality.
Women responded by saying, "Screw you. Our sexuality is not responsible for earthquakes—snicker—or any other horrible ills. Our sexuality is amazing, and we will claim it and flaunt it any damn way we choose. Our bodies, our right to decide."
How, exactly, is that not feminist?