Monday, April 26, 2010

The Boobquake

I honestly tried not to write about it. The story begins in Iran:

A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.

Iran is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric's unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair. "What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?" Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon last week. "There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes."

Women are to blame for earthquakes. But then feminists were to blame for the 911 atrocities, too, according to American fundies.

The next stage of the story happened today in Washington, D.C.:

Today, women gathered in Washington's Dupont Circle for a protest. There weren't typo-ridden signs or rallying cries to pass legislation. Instead, there were just a lot of low-cut shirts.

Jen McCreight came up with the idea for the protest and proposed a tongue-in-cheek experiment to test this claim by Iranian Cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi: "Women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes."

So McCreight encouraged women to join her at "Boobquake" and "embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. ... With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake." As of today, Boobquake had over 53,000 fans on Facebook.

Amanda at Pandagon wrote about the boobquake before, pointing out several problems with it if it was supposed to give support to women in Iran. But it doesn't sound as if that was its intention. Instead, it's a way to make fun of anti-woman clerics and to point out that earthquakes are not caused by titties and such.

With earthquakes being what they are, we just might have one tomorrow somewhere on the earth and then the joke is ruined, of course.

The deeper layers in all this are about the dangerous women's bodies and who owns the right to look at them or to stop others from looking at them. The Iranian cleric wants to have that control! Lots of hetero guys in the west want to have their pron! Women want to have a say in it all, too! But until we really, really understand that this is all about the ownership of the Body (and who has the right to look at it or to cover it) we are not going to get anywhere much.

That comment is separate from all the cultural commentary I could write in this context. It is indeed very true that the boobquake probably feeds the anti-Western thinking in Iran because it suggests that it's just one big chaos over here and it is that very chaos which the Iranian cleric fears late at night, tossing and turning in his bed.

The one who rides the tiger cannot get off.