Boobquake: in which Catherine gets annoyed at the press

Posted by & filed under Blogosphere, Canada, Gender, History, LGBT, Memes, News, Politics, Pop Culture, Vancouver.

“So! Boobs, huh?”

That’s right, boobs. Or what-have-you.

“I don’t get it.”

Well, the other day, Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi–yes, he’s not even an Ayatollah. I know, right?–went and said some crazy shit about boobs and how they cause earthquakes.

Or more specifically, no, he didn’t really. As PBS explains:

While delivering his weekly address, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, Tehran’s hardline Friday prayer leader — the man who replaced Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the role — revealed what had caused the strange prognostications. “Adultery causes earthquake,” explained Sadeghi. “The incidence of sin has proliferated. Sins — such as the laxities of some women or the way some young people harass and ogle on street corners or some families don’t observe religious values and practices while they are traveling — have mushroomed,” he told millions of television viewers on April 16. “These allurements that some women and some girls apply to themselves outside their homes, the young people who are tempted and turn to promiscuity and commit sin — all this increases adultery. According to our sacred transmitted texts, this is one reason for the incidence of natural calamities. When sin proliferates, earthquakes become common.“

So of course, this was picked up by the international press. They love this stuff. The greatest focus, of course, was the sentence about “some women” and their “laxities”: namely, the “allurements” they “apply to themselves outside their homes”.1

This isn’t about boobs. It’s a nod of support, under the guise of religion–and frankly, I’m not even sure if Sedighi means it as some kind of badly-translated “we will bury you”-esque metaphor–for Ahmadinejad’s odious, dissent-quelling plan to depopulate Tehran.

“Depopulate Tehran? I hadn’t heard anything about this!”

You don’t say.

As you will no doubt recall, former Friday prayer leader Rafsanjani is currently Chairman of the Assembly of Experts. He’s also a former President of Iran and political opponent of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. During the 2009 Iranian election crisis, Rafsanjani’s July 17th sermon (ostensibly) called for an end of censorship of the press condemned the state-sanctioned violence against protestors.2

Consequently, he is no longer Friday prayer leader.

Flash forward eight months, and Ahmadinejad is throwing out crazy ideas like maybe moving five million people away from Tehran:

The issue of moving people and organizations from Tehran has received much publicity since the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent call on Tehranis to pull up stakes and move to other cities.

Last week Ahmadinejad called on Tehranis to move to other cities because Tehran is earthquake-prone and if a massive quake hits this overpopulated mega city, the ensuing crisis will be unmanageable.

“Thanks to people’s prayers, Tehran’s fault lines are not active now,” but the occurrence of a massive earthquake in Tehran is certain, so at least five million should leave Tehran to make the crisis more manageable, Ahmadinejad said last week.

“Wait, wait, wait. Speaking as a hypothetical pro-Ahmadinejad Iranian-Analogue-to-the-Daily-Mail-reading Tehrani, I have to say that this proposal exists solely to save us from earthquakes.”

No. No it does not:

During the post-election events Tehran was the heart of the protests. Initiating rallies in huge numbers and acting as a model for other big and small cities of Iran with a concentration of most of the top universities and political, civil, cultural and economic organizations and a great magnet for young people coming to Tehran to either work or study.

So, good luck with that, Iran. Sorry about the press focusing on the boob thing.

…which brings us to last Monday, when Jen McCreight, Outgoing President of the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University, threw up a quick blog post proposing an experiment to show Sedighi what’s what:

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.

As of this moment, the Facebook group for “Boobquake” boasts 60,000 members, and Google News is reporting over 430 separate news articles around the world. Countless blog posts have leveled criticism against McCreight, accusing her of…well, pretty much every nasty thing. I particularly enjoyed the concern over what would happen if there actually was an earthquake today. Cheeky know-it-all-ism–meet–Islamophobia, awesome.

“Say, this raises a good point! What do you have to say about this Boobquake stuff, Catherine?”

I’m glad you asked that question! It’s silly and irreverent and I’m going.

“Wait, you’re going!? But! But!”


The most obvious criticism leveled against Boobquake is that it promotes the objectification of women.3 And honestly, it’s easy to see why. Vancouver’s print media have not exactly paid much attention to anything beyond ZOMG BOOBS:

News1130 is on the street, finding full support for the shaker. “God has given me eyes to appreciate beauties,” says Vikram. He may see some beauties!

He asks what’s wrong with seeing the human body. “I’ll be the happiest man in the world if a woman comes in front of me and asks, ‘Can I buy a soda?’ And why not? I’ll open it for you… I’ll open the soda for you!”

Is that a euphemism?

The Boobquake will be shaking from 4:00pm-8:00pm at the VAG.

That’s some classy stuff, News1130.4

However, I really want to emphasize that while this story promotes the objectification of women, it is possible to write one that keeps it to a minimum about the same topic.

Even still, that Vancouver Province article annoys me for a variety of reasons.

First, what the heck do those women from Mission in the photo have to do with the rest of the article? There’s no explanation given as to who they are or why they were interviewed. They do have a very nice photo though–ohhhhhh. Good one, The Province.

Angela Squires will be monitoring seismic activity Monday from Vancouver as she and other women take up the busty bid to prove the cleric wrong in a show of solidarity at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Right on, Angela. Of course, Metro Vancouver (yes, yes) does note:

“I thought, ‘how ridiculous,’” said Squires, who will be showing off her legs instead of her cleavage because she’s had a double mastectomy.

Yes, that’s some super fact-checking, The Province.

Metro Vancouver further quotes Squires as saying:

“People — especially (those) who have a perceived authority — are coming out with ridiculous statements that are not necessarily questioned. And it’s important for all of us to question what comes at us.”

Honestly, Metro Vancouver wins this one,5 though the Province does at least mention the word “skeptic”–though not any of background of there being a broader skeptics and humanists movement.

“But aren’t you afraid that if you show up wearing a low-cut top, guys will stare at your chest?”

First of all, my chest is at eye level for most dudes. It happens. Second, no. I’m not going to let concern over what guys may or may not do impact how I dress. That absolutely stinks of victim-blaming and I find it despicable.

Straight Dudes, I really hate to be blunt here, but I don’t notice you as sexual humans. At most, you are rivals–and let’s face it, even that’s a stretch. I don’t care whether you find me attractive, and I’m not going to use that as a consideration in how I dress. However, I am going to allow whether or not other lesbians find me attractive to influence how I dress. Sure, there may be overlap, but that’s one venn diagram I really don’t care about.

I want to be very clear on this: I do what I do for me, not for anyone else, and I do so because I have the freedom to choose.

  1. “Outside their homes” is a great qualifier. Why, he’s practically Pierre Trudeau. []
  2. On the other hand, he’s wanted in Argentina on terrorism and murder charges. So really, this is a case where I can–at most–support his Selma-killing policies. []
  3. As we know, women’s bodies should be hidden away beneath a chador at all times. Y’know, so they’ll be respected. []
  4. Also, you can’t spell. []
  5. I know. I’m scared too. []

5 Responses to “Boobquake: in which Catherine gets annoyed at the press”

  1. AnneDroid

    If I understand this 8th century vengeful god “logic”, it’s the adultry that causes Allah to strike out — not with surgical removal — but with the widespread mayhem of natural disasters. The T&A simply leads to adultry. If McCreight wanted to disprove the proposition, the correct method would be to encourage romps with married people.

    Naturally, that’s not particullarly photogenic. So, she’d rather feed into the objectification and sensationalist nature of the news — and particullarly of this story — instead of thrying to shame the media into proper coverage. To me, that’s a more significant and intrusive problem than some loony on the other side of the world.

    Ahmadinejad (and his Members Only jacket) is only thinking of the welfare of his people. If there are fewer rioters next election, he won’t have to shoot as many to crush it. The depopulation plan saves lives. Why, he’s practically a saint.

    • Catherine Winters

      Sadly, the media-fueled urge is too strong, and I too have only heard, “blah blah blah blah BOOBS” when reading this. Somewhere, a solitary tear runs down Vampire McLuhan’s face.

  2. Dick Carlson

    As a straight dude, I’d be honored for you to consider my aged, round, short self as a rival. If you were to actually notice me down here, looking at your navel.