Boobquake brings out different feminist opinions

Posted by Saraline , Sunday, April 25, 2010 9:07 PM

One thing I've learned about feminism is that we don't all agree about everything. We all have different views and ideas. You can see this when you look at all the different responses to Boobquake.

Boobquake is feminist Jen McCreight's response to Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi's statement that "Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."

Time for a Boobquake.

On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that's your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I'm sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn't rumble. And if we really get through to him, maybe it'll be one involving plate tectonics.
-Jen McCreight of Blag Hag

Boobquake has received a mixed response. As of right now, Sunday night, more than 170 000 people have RSVPed to the facebook event to say that they're participating. However, nearly 240 000 have clicked on "not attending." Beth Mann feels that Boobquake is turning into Girls Gone Wild:

I appreciate McCreight's intentions behind this; she meant it as a feminist response to a ridiculous statement. Unfortunately, it seems to be turning into something else, with many men chiming in, with their "show us your tits" camera-ready attitude. Women on parade again...sigh.

Since when did we "stick it to the man" by wearing low-cut shirts or short shorts? [...]

Women have been objectified to such an extreme point that even our so-called feminist undertakings include more objectification. I don't relax when I find something disproportionate and unfair. Nobody should.

Reviewing the hundreds of comments that continue to pour onto the Boobquake FB page, many women apologetically replied, "Sorry, I don't have enough cleavage to show" or "I'm as flat as a board...sorry!" A movement that encourages more body issues! Yay for us. Go team go. [...]

Women should be able to wear what they want. That's a given. Women should be able to sexually express themselves how they see fit. Of course. And underneath it all, I guess that was Boobquake's intention.

Liztopia also feels that Boobquake is counterproductive:

Boobquake to me is a minefield of contradictions; women are choosing to get their breasts out in order to make a statement against sexism. For me, because we live in a society where women are treated like sexual objects, the statement falls a little flat. Sexism manifests itself in the UK through enforcing women to self objectify, tits out, will be assumed to be ‘tits out for the lads’, even if that’s not the case. Women in the UK are also pressured to cover up and told that if you show too much flesh you deserve rape. As I said, it’s a minefield.

Liztopia's observations about society in the UK are true for Canada and the United States as well. We're not exactly an open-minded "let it all hang out without judgement" society over here. Just look at all the people who feel that mothers shouldn't be allowed to breastfeed in public. Of course, those who are saying that Boobquake is a perfect opportunity for women to be objectified certainly aren't wrong, either.

McCreight has made a second entry meant to clarify Boobquake. "I don't think the event is completely contrary to feminist ideals," she says. "I'm asking women to wear their most 'immodest' outfit that they already would wear, but to coordinate it all on the same day for the sake of the experiment." Other feminists agree with her, too:

Women equate clothing with power, or subjugation, and these vibes run deep. Throughout history there have been revolutions in woman's clothing that proclaim freedom in a way that doesn't seem to mirror men and their fashion sense. The scandals caused by Amelia Bloomer and others - the affront caused by women wearing pants in the early 20th century - the horror of the two piece bathing suit... these issues rocked the social sphere. [...]

But while I will take responsibility for the way in which I respect my body, I am never going to take responsibility for the way men choose to act towards me because of what I wear, and I am never going to take responsibility for natural disasters.

I can understand where feminists on both sides of Boobquake are coming from. I appreciate the idea behind it, but I agree with Beth Mann and Liztopia. In a society like ours where women are subject to sexual objectification, this kind of event is ineffective and the point is lost when so many people are just excited about seeing women in revealing clothing. I would be much more inclined to attend a public nurse-in with other breastfeeding mothers.

4 Response to "Boobquake brings out different feminist opinions"

ck Says:

If they're worried about the temptations of young men, perhaps they should make these young men walk through life blindfolded! Yeesh!

lagatta à montréal Says:

Another poit is that Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi does not play a major role in the oppression of women in the West, except perhaps in Shi'ite communities. Here in Québec, Shi'ites are a small minority even among Muslim women, and the number one target in terms of misogynist religion-based nonsense about women is none other than the Vatican.

Sedighi wasn't freaking out about women tarted up as pole dancers, it it just the "creative" ways many Iranian women, in particular young people in urban areas, interpret the mandatory headscarf and covering, showing quite a bit of hair under chic kerchiefs and wearing fitted jackets or tunics. I think simply dressing as we want,no matter how modest or revealing our clothing might be - here it depends a lot on the weather, is the best response, along with more targeted expressions of solidarity with Iranian women against this resurgence of morality police.

Remember that this can be a bit of a minefield too, international feminist solidarity is imperative, but alas forces exist who are trying to make Iran into a new "eternal enemy". They do have oil, eh?

ck, as a Palestinian solidarity activist, I won't often be in agreement with Golda Meir. However she was right on when some dinosaurs in her government called for a curfew on women due to a rise in sexual assaults: she said that logically, the solution was a curfew on men.

Saraline Says:

Lagatta, I agree with you. Boobquake focuses on a problem in Iran and ignores the problems that we have here. The problems that we have here make this event ineffective in our society.

lagatta à montréal Says:

Well, we do have to be concerned about this problem in Iran, in solidarity with our Iranian sisters, and also because such demonisation is common to at least all the monotheistic religions. Remember that similar accusations were levelled by fundamentalist Christian churches in Haiti, that the recent earthquake was God's revenge for "immorality".

I think a better approach would be to reach out to Iranian feminist and other progressive associations and listen to their demands and viewpoints. When I next see Nimâ Machouf, I'll try to get some feedback.

Hmm, Dr Machouf is probably best known as the wife of Dr Amir Khadir, Québec Solidaire MNA, but she was also a successful candidate for Projet Montréal in the recent Montréal elections (I believe she was the co-listière of Richard Bergeron and hence had agreed to stand down), an epidemiologist and a veteran activist for feminism, healthcare and social justice here, in their native Iran and in all deprived areas.