The peculiar words of an Iranian cleric thousands of miles away have provoked a debate among feminists in the U.S. It started when senior Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi postulated a puzzling theory stating that scantily-clad women cause earthquakes:
Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes.
Jennifer McCreight, a Purdue University student, decided to put the cleric's theory to the test. She created a Facebook page calling for women to dress in "immodest" clothing Monday to try and provoke a "boobquake." The idea took off and over 192,000 people pledged to participate in the boobquake on Facebook. It went gangbusters on Twitter too and you can even buy "I survived Boobquake" T-shirts here. Of course, like any movement, a backlash arose and certain female bloggers protested McCreight's methods. Here are views from the two camps:
- It's About Liberating Women McCreight explained her position on her blog: "I'm a firm believer that when someone says something so stupid and hateful, serious discourse isn't going to accomplish anything - sometimes light-hearted mockery is worthwhile... I don't want to force people out of their comfort zones, because I believe women have the right to choose how they want to dress. Please don't pressure women to participate if they don't want to."
- Here, Here! adds Russell Blackford at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies: "There is nothing wrong with the beauty of the human body, male or female, nothing wrong with enjoying it, and nothing wrong with displaying it to the world. If you’ve been blessed with physical beauty, then for Aphrodite’s sake display it; take pleasure in your good fortune, and let other people take pleasure in it. Strut your stuff, and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed about so-called 'immodesty'. Feel free to scorn the moralism of Islamic clerics and anyone else who tries to put you down."
- It's Girls Gone Wild with a Cause, complains Beth Mann at Salon: "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... All parties must be on board and in celebration of the cause in a way that doesn't include lasciviousness, latent female hatred or sexual over-saturation. If not, then all we've got is 'Girls Gone Wild' with a cause slapped on it."
- It's Degrading, writes Rutgers academic and feminist Golbarg Bashi, who independently created a new experiment called a "brainquake."
World-wide, the sexualisation of women and younger girls, as young as pre-schoolers is a genuine problem and as mothers, feminists, and young women ourselves we believe that it is time to move away from this “bare it all” mentality.
Let’s create a “Brainquake” and show off our resumes, CVs, honors, prizes, accomplishments (photo evidence) because the Hojatoleslam and the Islamic Republic of Iran are afraid of women’s abilities to push for change...
In other news, "a strong earthquake measuring 6.9 struck southeast of Taiwan" today.