“A Life-Changing Experience” (An Atheist Goes to Church)

A few weeks ago, I got a flier stuck on my door:

A MUST-HEAR MESSAGE FROM MR. CLIFFORD BROWN, AN
AWESOME MAN OF GOD!

Come out to hear the specific instructions given by God in the Garden of Eden.
Afterwards, let’s cool off by having an ice cream treat!

Bring your tape recorders, laptops, notepads, pens, and pencils to be a
part of what will be a life-changing experience for you.

I figured with a buildup like that, I should probably attend. “Life-changing experience” sounded pretty good, especially with so many exclamation points in the description. Maybe some miraculous healings or special effects, maybe even some magic tricks. And failing all else, at least there’d be ice cream. Plus, it was held at the church at the end of my street, well within walking distance, so I wouldn’t even have to go anywhere.

So on Saturday at 2:00, I showed up with my laptop and digital recorder. I even brought a half-gallon carton of ice cream from the UMD dairy because it seemed like a neighborly thing to do.

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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.