Boobquake vs. Feminism

For those who hadn’t heard, some idiot Muslim cleric said the other day that “women who do not dress modestly” cause earthquakes. So Jen McCreight, aka Blag Hag decided to test this proposition scientifically. This became known as Boobquake. There was much tittering on the intertubes, and it quickly became more popular than any of the myriad thoughtful posts she’d written up til then.

But it also apparently raised the ire of feminists, on the grounds that encouraging women to show cleavage promotes the objectification of women. Okay, I can see that as being a valid concern.

Now, I like to think of myself as a feminist, in the sense of someone who thinks women should be equal to men in most situations. So of course I’m opposed to seeing women as nothing more than sex objects.

However, there’s a difference between not being merely a sex object; and not being a sex object at all. I have friends who are fantastic cooks, and I’d be a fool to turn down a dinner invitation from them. But that doesn’t mean they’re merely cooks, that they aren’t fully-rounded people. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I can just expect them to cook for me whenever I want, or that if I walk by when they’re cooking, that it’s somehow acceptable or even expected that I’ll be so overcome with hunger that I’ll be unable to resist stealing their lunch.

Having said this, I don’t deny that sexism is still a problem in the US (where, after all, “she was asking for it, dressed the way she was” is still a credible excuse for rape in some circles). But we’re still light years ahead from the sort of society where women are expected to be covered head to toe lest the sight of an unclad earlobe send a man into an involuntary libidinous frenzy or, worse yet, challenge his assumed superiority in all things, including control of women’s bodies. And that alone makes Boobquake a worthwhile poke in the eye to more repressive societies.

But I’m not going to tell anyone to participate in Boobquake who doesn’t want to. That’s an individual decision. But in the final analysis, the whole thing is a bit of fun, albeit with a serious underlying message. And if you can’t have fun with sex, you probably have other problems.

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2 Responses to Boobquake vs. Feminism

  1. Rational people can disagree (and often do) however, other discussions of gender equality issues in the rational blogosphere haven’t gone very well.

    Fortunately, this particular conversation has not degenerated into quite the same level of incivility as the whole “Bill Maher” controversy from the summer and fall of last year.

    I used to call it the Mrogynistsd vs the Misogynists but that didn’t catch on very well.

    Those who will not tolerate degrading women in any way are just as passionate as those offended at what they see as attempts to limit free expression.

    In a way both are trying to limit free expression, however. Both degrade the individual and I have yet to have seen anyone moved from their original position by the pleas of the other.

    Of course I’m now told that the skeptical movement doesn’t exist because some people don’t like labels … I guess that would mean there aren’t any feminists either, not important …

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  2. Eamon Knight says:

    In my life time (age 52) I have seen attitudes re female display go back and forth. When I started working it was still acceptable to post calendars with pix of naked women in the office (and I mean the design offices of a hi-tech company, not your stereotypical male-enclave car repair shop). Then what with conciousness-raising and anti-harassment statutes, that sort of thing disappeared. The generation of women who fought the battle for workplace equality and acceptance in non-traditional roles (eg. my wife) tended to dress modestly and otherwise avoid advertising their sexuality. Now it seems that the younger generation of women feels free to let it out of the bedroom again — but, it seems, on their own terms this time, rather than that of a sexist society. The younger generation seems to be able to admire each other equally (ie. you can now get both “cheesecake” and “beefcake” calendars), but with physical appreciation being only one aspect of the whole person.

    Or maybe I’m being idealistic.

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