Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Boobquake's Het Male Supremacist Seismic Aftershocks: be careful where you cyber-step

slavery.jpg Slavery image by polaff

[image is from here. You can click on it to see the smaller text.]

It is so typical of white societies to discuss things like this ad nauseam, while millions of children and women die and suffer from marital or date rape, men beating up women, lack of clean water, or lack of health care, being bombed or raped by white country's leaders' coloniser-by-proxy soldiers, or due to the lack of so much that white men have, globally. It's so damned typical. Economic-social-political privilege does many things; making some human beings utterly unaware and callous to the suffering of others is high on the list, in my view.

Witness the sputtering and mutterings of Jacobus van Beverningk, following the utterly misogynist terminology of an "evolved" man named Jerry A. Coyne, who penned a book and, now a website, titled Why Evolution is True. How egotistically emphatic we whiteboys are about our truths!! Have you noticed?

What follows is from *here*. Warning, you are entering a zone where white men and all our privileges are fully engorged. Tread carefully. Or, rather, just stomp on anything that looks too egotistically engorged. First, the initial post by Jerry A. Coyne, who does, I'll admit, try and do something good here. And he does quote from a feminist blogger who does speak to the issues rather effectively. Too bad Jerry doesn't get the following:

-- That making fun of an Islamic Iranian cleric is oh-so-easy when you ignore the misogyny of your own culture's dominant faith traditions. (We can't have cultural self-reflection and accountability. No, no, no. That's not how white het male supremacy works AT ALL.) (Yes, there's plenty that's grossly misogynistic and loaded up with sexist double-standards that cleric Sedighi reportedly said. And I feel no need to protect him from criticism. My issue is this: white Christian-cultured men always find it very profitable to their egos and stature to put down men of color around the world, as if white Western men are god's gift to aetheistically and scientifically understood human life.

-- Or that using a term like "blag hag" isn't helpful to the cause of ending misogyny.

-- Or that putting down radical feminists as "priests" isn't funny either. As if radical feminists organised, ruled, and maintain a centuries old religious institution for the primary purpose or raping children and nuns. Oh, wait. He said "acolytes", not "altar boys". That means he's Anglican or Episcopalian. My bad.

As for Dworkin, other radical feminists, and myself lacking senses of humor. Hardly. He clearly hasn't read a damn thing Dworkin has written, or he'd get how funny she is, about the stupidity of white men's logic. (Funny. White men don't laugh about that.)

Here's a good one, boys:

Q: What's the quickest way to a man's heart?
A: Through his chest.

Misogynist white het doods, why aren't you laughing? Oh, right. Antifeminist men have no sense of humor. Moving on to Jerry's words of attempted wisdom:


Okay, we all know that Blag Hag (Jen McCreight) had the bright idea of “Boobquake,” a way to make fun of a Muslim cleric’s accusation that immodestly dressed females cause earthquakes.  Jen jokingly suggested a “scientific” experiment in which women would test this hypothesis by showing their breasts today on the internet and looking for an increase in seismic activity. (Actually, this isn’t really a test of the cleric’s idea, since he blamed earthquakes on the adultery attendant on display of boobage):
“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,” Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media.
Regardless, the idea has been taken up with approbation by some of my favorite bloggers, including P.Z., erv, and Russell Blackford.  How do I feel?

I can’t get behind it.

Call me humorless, call me a militant pro-feminist, call me a prude—call me what you want, but somehow the idea of women mocking religion by showing their breasts comes perilously close to making points through sexuality instead of through good arguments and brains. (Just imagine how tepid the response would be if, in the same cause, all of us male bloggers decided to show ourselves in jockstraps).  The predictably leering response of men, who of course have tendered enthusiastic thanks for the mammaries, just confirms this suspicion.

What’s worse is that some women who don’t want to participate in this affair have been derided as anti-sex.  Even Russell Blackford took this tack:
Unfortunately, there was a lot of 1980s pseudo-feminism that took a similar attitude to that of Christianity and Islam, problematising displays of female beauty and even expressing disgust with heterosexuality itself. The worst offender was the egregious Andrea Dworkin – who died relatively young back in 2005. In her case, good riddance. These pseudo-feminists merely use feminist-sounding language to rationalise the religion-based anti-sex morality into which they were socialised. But they lack the self-insight to understand that it’s what they’re doing.
Look, Russell, if you really think that male and female bodies are both beautiful, why do you suppose that this event is getting much more publicity than would a similar display of male skin? Do you think CNN would be all over the event if it was men who were showing their junk? Of course not—and you know why.
And do you really want to tar women who object to selling ideas with sex as acolytes of Andrea Dworkin?  That’s simply unfair.  Some women don’t want to bare their mammae, and NOT because they have a “religion based anti-sex morality”; they simply have good reason to think that in the long run such stunts will hinder women being taken seriously as thinkers and colleagues.

I have to agree with the take of Miranda Hale at Exquisite With Love,  who is an atheist and a feminist, but won’t be doffing her duds today:
The idea is fantastic and well-intentioned. It points out both the ridiculousness of the cleric’s claim and the despicable and harmful practice of blaming all sorts of horrible things (including sexual assault) on women.
However, the great majority of the responses to this effort have been anything but fantastic. Instead, it has inspired, primarily at its Facebook event page, many comments of the “show us your tits!” or “Dude, awesome, I’ll get to see some boob photos on Monday” variety. And, for some reason, women are complying. They’re posting photos of their cleavage and men are responding with “awesome boobs!”, etc. The Facebook event page has almost 200,000 “attendees” and the effort has received a great deal of media coverage. And that’s all well and good, but how many of these individuals are actually concerned with raising awareness of this issue? Very, very few, I’d say.
Sure, one can assert that the event has been unfairly “hijacked” by the men who are reacting in this way, but this response wasn’t hard to predict. And although the men making these types of comments are solely responsible for the attitudes expressed in them, why provide them with fodder? I understand that this is intended to be a lighthearted attempt to point out the ridiculousness and stupidity of the assertions made by the cleric, but that intention has been completely buried under a constant stream of “show us your tits” comments. . .
. . . Let’s dress however we want to, let’s be as modest or as immodest as we choose, and let’s use our sexuality however we see fit. It’s all about choice. If Boobquake is your kind of thing, then, by all means, enjoy it. But don’t stop there. Write about these issues. Raise consciousness about them. Speak out against the “show us your tits” reactions. And please don’t pretend that merely showing as much cleavage as possible is somehow making any kind of difference. It’s not.
If it doesn’t make a difference in promoting atheism and mocking faith, what good is it? It’s just Playboy on the internet.

UPDATE:  Ceiling Cat weighs in.


  1. Stan Clark
    Posted April 26, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
    This stupid idea could have exactly the opposite effect that was intended. As we all know, there has been a substantial amount of seismic activity in recent weeks, and there may well be more. If that happens, then the idiot clerics will claim the earthquakes resulting from the showing of tits on the internet as evidence for their position. What a dumb-ass box to put ourselves into.

    • Posted April 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink
      Then we can very calmly try to explain plate tectonics to them. But for now, let’s just laugh at them.

    • MadScientist
      Posted April 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
      Don’t be silly – if it works they can tell Iran to drop its nuclear fuel refinement program and just buy fuel from the Russians or else they will flatten Tehran (though our diplomats would prefer they bought from us – not even the French are an acceptable supplier).

  2. steve oberski
    Posted April 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
    Unfortunately there is a dearth of Muslim clerics chastising young men for dressing immodestly.

    • Posted April 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
      Indeed. But Jerry is wrong about a tepid response if it was about men scantily clad. In fact, Rebecca Watson offered, very tongue-in-cheek, an “alternate theory” to the one of the Iranian guy:
      Obviously, for her, the latest tectonic catastrophe, that volcano eruption in Iceland, was caused by Matt Smith getting naked in the premiere of Doctor Who! And she asked for more such exhibitions if we are to test the theory!

  3. Jacobus van Beverningk
    Posted April 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink
    I’m afraid you’re right: you are humorless.
    Of course it attracts ‘show me your tits’ remarks, but that’s just a minor price to pay for the greater good.
    The main purpose was to get this religious stupidity greater audience attention and get people to talk about it.
    If that takes showing some innocent cleavage (NOBODY has shown her breasts!), so be it.
    To then start about whether this constitutes demeaning women, etc, is missing the point entirely.
    The intent was to raise awareness about religious stupidity. It worked. It worked VERY well.
    You REALLY think you can get through to this particular cleric through “good arguments and brains”?
    Trying that would be utterly pointless.
    Mockery is called for here!
    Call him a kook, stick out your tongue, or show some innocent cleavage. Who cares.

    • Posted April 26, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
      What’s your evidence that it’s “worked very well”? Sure, it has garnered attention, but that doesn’t automatically imply consciousness-raising.
      And do you think that this event has actually affected this particular cleric? Or that he cares about it in the least?

      • MadScientist
        Posted April 26, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink
        I wouldn’t expect the cleric to become any less stupid, but this reinforces the notion that you shouldn’t believe the stupid things these self-proclaimed holy men say.

      • Jacobus van Beverningk
        Posted April 26, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink
        “What’s your evidence”
        Isn’t that obvious? All the comments on the various blogs about the issue, by people revealing that they were not aware of this cleric’s statement, and now they are. And horrified by it. Didn’t you read those comments? Can’t believe you had to ask.
        “do you think that this event has actually affected this particular cleric”
        No, of course not, nobody does. That’s part of the point! You CAN’T ‘affect’ this guy. So mock him. If that’s not your style, fine. But don’t deny a few folks with some innocent tongue-in-cheek counter action some fun.

        • Posted April 28, 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink
          So the “smart” white guy doesn’t get it about why this whole response and attendant gawking and stupidity by white het men isn’t harmful to women.
          Hmmm. I’m about as surprised by that as I am that the cleric wouldn’t be transformed by the reactions to his comments.
          Of course it’s all just unserious fun and good ol’ mockery to you.
          You’re not part of the group who is harassed and groped in public by heterosexual men trained to “take what they want” from women. Why, I bet your response to me even saying that is “women don’t experience that!!!”. Right. Little do you know what women around the world, and even exclusively in the West, experience. Very little do you know.
          You can’t see the connections between promoting the objectification of women’s bodies, again, and again, and again, and the advertising and pornography industries which use up and toss out pimped girls who become women who become too old (say, 25) to be considered “profitable”. You don’t get the overlap with that and trafficking, and with trafficking and sexual slavery. And guess what, Jacobus van Beverningk, you don’t have to.
          Yes, in your “lucky” white man world, all phenomena exist “discretely”, independent of one another.
          Meanwhile, for women of color around the world, this is not how the world works at all. But what the hell would you know? You’re just a silly white dude, who pretends to be smarter than intelligence itself.
          So please own the position of privilege and statused being from which you speak, sir. Because you are a minority in this world, white man, and you don’t speak for the majority. You just get to have the arrogance and ego of a god, if not the knowledge and wisdom presumed to exist in concocted monotheistic gods, or any other kind.
          This is not a theist writing to you, so don’t get your underpants in a twist over some religious nut critiquing you. I despise patriarchal and theistic religion.
          Why don’t you show some concern about sexual slavery, sir? Isn’t that reality more important to address than you spouting off about how harmless and productively fun “boobquake” is?
          Oh, right, you’re a privileged ignorant-arrogant white man who gets to ignore and deny atrocities if they don’t negatively impact white men like yourself. How could I forget?
          Tell me, smart sir, how many people–disproportionately children and women of color–not white men like you, right now, are being trafficked across the globe and within various systems of sexist exploitation and violation, with no human rights at all, by pimps for procurers who think it is ethical to sell and purchase human beings so they might stick their dicks in them?
          Oh, how unfunny it all gets when we’re asked to focus on something of import. So sorry to ruin your good times.


  1. Your response was perfect. Thanks for trying to channel some perspective into the head of yet another privileged WHM.

    I'm not surprised that Jacobus wants to steer the conversation away from behavior that implicates him and men like him and toward The Other.

    Of course it attracts ‘show me your tits’ remarks, but that’s just a minor price to pay for the greater good.
    The main purpose was to get this religious stupidity greater audience attention and get people to talk about it.

    Why? Is it news to anyone of the intended "greater audience" that several major religions insist that women dress modestly? And that these same religions believe that their god(s) control events on Earth? Does publicizing this cleric's remark inform people of anything they didn't already know or was it just to let smug people feel "horrified"?

    To then start about whether this constitutes demeaning women, etc, is missing the point entirely.

    I thought "the point" of the outrage (beyond the scientific inaccuracy) was this cleric's endorsement of women's oppression. How does questioning whether the nature of the [I cannot bring myself to seriously type "B..."] response is itself sexist miss the point? Is it not even remotely remarkable that Jen McCreight so quickly and easily comes up with the "show more cleavage" idea? There are other areas of women's bodies that are considered "immodest" to be shown in public, but she didn't advocate posting pictures of one's crotch online, nor did she think "Hey, most American women dress immodestly by this cleric's standards. Wouldn't it be an interesting science experiment if we all 'covered up' and it showed no effect on the level of seismic activity?" No, her mind followed the well-worn path of American individualism and consumer-capitalism's favorite product, namely female sexual objectification (women = boobs). Doesn't that say anything about the way we Western people think about sex and gender?

    If all of that misses the point, then the point has nothing to do with women at all and is merely another celebration of WHM oppression

  2. Thanks so much for that AST!


    And it is typically WHITE het male supremacist that "breasts" are seen as representative of "women". I don't quite get it about WHM and adult-white-female-breast obsession. Other than it is what pornography and other media teaches white men to focus on. And I guess that's enough of an explanation.

    The automatic reactive protectionism by WHM like Jacobus, of their goddamned grossly unjust entitlement to have 24/7 access to as many women's bodies as possible, and not a few girls--visually and physically--is despicable.