Was Boobquake Feminist Enough? April 30, 2010

Was Boobquake Feminist Enough?

The upsides to Jen McCreight‘s Boobquake event: Massive amounts of unintended publicity and the opportunity to ridicule an Iranian cleric who clearly deserved it.

The downside: A lot of people said Jen’s idea was a bad one in the name of feminism. (A day for women to make their opposition to the foolish cleric known, and a chance to band together in the name of Science (kind of)… and it involved showing off their boobs?!)

Greta Christina doesn’t think Boobquake was anti-feminist at all. Rather, she thinks the event empowered women:

A patriarchal, profoundly misogynist man used his position of religious authority to demonize and control women, and to irrelevantly blame the ills of the world on our vile, dangerous sexuality.

Women responded by saying, “Screw you. Our sexuality is not responsible for earthquakes — snicker — or any other horrible ills. Our sexuality is amazing, and we will claim it and flaunt it any damn way we choose. Our bodies, our right to decide.”

How, exactly, is that not feminist?

It’s a terrific piece and it does a nice job of debunking a lot of the anti-Boobquake-Feminist claims.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Siamang

    I always defer to Greta on all issues of feminism. She’s the most kick-ass feminist I know.

    I can’t remember an issue regarding equality that I didn’t think she absolutely nailed.

  • Heidi

    Yeah. What Greta Christina said. Hell yeah, in fact.

  • I agree with Greta. Our sexuality belongs to us and if we want to show it off to make fun of ridiculous supernatural claims, I think that’s awesome.

  • If Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi had claimed that the earthquakes were being cause by women wearing the color green/ talking too loudly/ having blonde hair, etc., and Jen had responded with Boobquake, then I believe it would have been anti-feminist. But she responded exactly on point with what the pin head said: that scantily clad women make the earth move. So in this case, I think it’s very feminist! And I proudly supported it myself.

  • Noodly1

    No matter what you do, someone is going to bitch about it. Her response to the absurd criticism was right on, though!

    Much to my husband’s glee, I did my part to contribute to Boobquake and had fun doing it! Did anyone notice, though, that there was an earthquake that day in Taiwan? Coincidence or…God?!

  • Canadiannalberta

    I think it was very feminist – it took an issue and gave an appropriate response.

  • A small semantic point per your use of the term “debunking”: Whether something is “feminist enough” is more of a philosophical argument, and less of an observation. Not saying one can’t objectively discuss feminism, just that it’s a subject of debate (within limits).

    Would also be good if you showed us an example of the argument(s) for why Boobquake was anti-feminist, if only for context.

  • Jenea

    So say we all! Thank you, Greta!

  • Jen

    I love Greta Christina, and I tend to agree with her on most stuff, but while I understand what she is saying, I disagree. Not because of the boobs; as she says, female sexuality is complicated with the male gaze, etc, etc. I think she is on the money with sex, but…

    The Boobquake event was problematic, and here is why: we all agree that what this guy was wrong. But its awfully… American to suggest that the response should be to show how different we are from those poor Muslim women. And I get that Jen wasn’t trying to say that, and I get that this was a spur of the moment type thing, and that is cool. But I think that perhaps the correct response should have included, or better yet focused on, supporting Muslim women who are over there being oppressed, rather than simply showing skin (not that there is anything wrong with that).

    Again, not a slam on Jen, Greta, or low-cut tops (I would take the first two for a drink while wearing the third) but I think that it would be nice if we could perhaps help those women who are forced, against their will, to stay in clothes they dislike. We have the freedom to dress however we want; showing that we have that freedom doesn’t prove anything (other than that we don’t cause earthquakes).

    I think that if Pat Robertson says stupid things (if- ha!) about gay people, we could organize a gay kiss-in in front of his office, and it would be fun and prove a point, but it might be better to also donate money to PFLAG. Get their attention- and eyeballs help- but also work to change things.

  • Sandra

    I don’t think it was a “bad” idea. It was a good start to a ridiculous comment, and shows the beginnings of a solidarity for women in the middle East. I have read several Women’s History books, article and so forth, and one thing I find repeatedly is that women have, throughout history, had no sense of solidarity for each other. The only times any woman in a socially “superior” position has stood for rights is when she herself wanted it, and all the other women can suffer. It’s good to see some change begin.

  • Rajesh Shenoy

    Now that Western “democratic” governments have started dictating what women should NOT cover-up, maybe it’s time for a “BurqaQuake”? 🙂

  • Annette

    I think it was perfectly feminist, what Jen did. If the feminist community is all upset that she didn’t do it their way, all the better. She can tell the feminist community she’s too feminist to put up with their oppressive bull. Yes, maybe they could have turned it into a fund raiser or something for oppressed Iranian women (but plenty of other feminists are angry that white, American women responded at all, “We’re taking power from Iranian women!”) I’ve been all over the feministe and feministing sites and read all of the backlash, and this is one of the complaints I saw. Really, I support feminism, just not “the man” (read “the gate keepers of feminism”.) The only right way to do feminism is their way.

  • I’m curious, who was saying this was anti-feminism? Somehow I think they weren’t feminists. I think it was awesome.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Not Guilty, this is the sort of thing that Greta Christina was responding to: http://www.mirandacelestehale.net/?p=3014

  • @Rajesh,
    I smell prey.
    Care to expound on that statement a bit?

  • I wrote the piece J.J. Ramsey linked to above. I don’t know that I have anything else to say on this issue, but, to clarify, I never said anything was “bad for feminism” or “anti-feminist”.

  • Tony

    Pics or it STILL didn’t happen! 😉

  • Trace

    Thanks for the link JJ Ramsey.

    I actually like Ajita’s second comment in the comment section (the one about India and Valentine’s day).

  • I think that in any instance, women taking control of their bodies and wardrobe is certainly feminist, whether or not they were celebrating boobquake.

  • Rajesh Shenoy

    @TGM: I found it ironic that within the span of one week, we had two incidents that dictated what women should or should not wear: One religious nutcrack exhorting them to USE certain clothing, and another right-wing government with clear racist undertones legislating them NOT to wear something else. To me, both of them smack of MCP-ism, and both need to be condemned in entirety. While “BoobQuake” was organised to (rather nicely) protest one form of repression, the other hasn’t met with as much protest in the blogosphere. That’s why I suggested a “BurqaQuake.” I have in mind a picture of thousands of women (and men too!) wearing burqas, head-scarves, purdahs, what-have-you’s (or even nothing!) and protesting in front of Belgian and French embassies all over the civilised world. I myself would join them in Sydney. No one should be allowed to dictate, much less, legislate, what we can or cannot wear!

  • Annette

    Check out the comments on feminising.com and feministe.us regarding boobquake if you want to read the explanations of those who considered boobquake to be anti-feminist, or feminism done wrong.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Annette: “Check out the comments on feminising.com”

    I gather you mean http://feministing.com

  • @Rajesh,
    It wasn’t readily apparent to me from your first comment that you’re coming from a libertarian angle. I strongly disagree with you, but I can understand your viewpoint. Now here’s MINE.
    I find hijabs, abbayas and burqas to be offensive in the extreme and a symbol of female servitude. The wearing of those items of clothing have nothing to do with individual preference, but with centuries of patriarchal bullying. Great, now I’m sounding like a feminazi…
    Anyway, I support the banning of these cultural straitjackets for women. If women feel compelled to wear them, let them wear them at home for their misogynist turd-men or better yet, let them go back to the old country where it’s not an issue.
    I just spent several weeks back in my family’s old country (Lebanon, in Hezbollah controlled territory) and I am so damn sick of seeing women in bags walking around in the heat. I hate the practice, the culture that supports it and the religion that started it.
    I have a deep and undying hatred for anyone and anything that would treat my mother, daughter, sisters and wife as sex objects to be covered up in order to save some poor pervert from having an erection.
    What, these pieces of sh*t can’t control themselves and their urges? That’s the message they are sending to the world. They are an embarrassment to me as an Arab as they should be to all men in general.

  • Alz

    While I agree that anyone should wear what they want (from going to work entirely naked to wearing robes and a mask on an airplane), supporting the Burqa is a mistake. It is a tool of oppression and nothing more.

  • I think Greta nailed it with her post. The fuddy duddy second wavers were being every bit as puritanical and controlling as the cleric. Okay, well maybe not AS, but still puritanical. As another poster commented, I’d be hard pressed to find an issue I disagreed with Greta on. She is always eminently reasonable.

  • Stephanie

    I think the so-called ‘backlash’ against boobquake really had more to do with an ongoing concern amongst many feminists – the use of women’s bodies to promote causes. While in this instance there was a direct correlation between the cause (freedom of women’s self-expression and sexuality) and the use of ‘boobs’ to promote it, in many instances women’s bodies are used as a vehicle for unrelated issues eg PETA’s well-publicised use of women’s bodies in protesting animal abuse.

    Most of the comments I have seen around feministing, Shakesville, Hoyden About Town etc have been back and forth messages about why boobquake both is and isn’t problematic from a feminist perspective. Not so much a backlash as an informed discussion. The long history of exploiting women and their bodies (especially breasts) to promote causes means that any further use of women’s bodies in this way (however relevant and justified) can be seen as further entrenching the acceptability of using women’s sexuality in promotion and continuing to relegate women to a role where they are valued more for their body than for other contributions they can make to a campaign.

  • You guys actually buy into (third-wave) feminism?!

    Feminism = Communism with tits

    [I’m pretty much in favor first wave feminism, but the current incarnation is for servile men, ugly women, mannish lesbians, and sluts.]

    I did like Boobquake though and I don’t need the feminist lobby to countenance my opinion of it.

  • Linda


    I understand the classifications of feminism, but I don’t necessarily believe there’s a definite cut off line for each wave. To me, feminism is feminism. In the end everyone involved is fighting for the same goal.

    I’m quite offended with the stereotypes you bestowed on those who align themselves with this wave. I can only think that one would stereotype others due to ignorance on the commenter’s part. There are so many people in the world with so many different characteristics that it’s unfair to categorize everyone in one box simply because of one detail.

  • Claudia

    Responding to men trying to shut down womens sexuality by declaring it dangerous or immoral by…shutting down female sexuality is so laughably absurd I’m astonished anyone would actually suggest it.

    This is akin to gays saying they must stop any flamboyance at gay pride events because homophobes call them flamboyant. The proper response is “I’ll wear my fucking feathers on Saturday and show up for my police beat on Monday so fuck you!” (excuse me, I’ve had the Tim Minchin tribute to the Pope song on a continuous loop and its affecting my language).

    Its fine that there are different opinions on this subject of course, but my feeling is that this sex-negative, any sexualization of women is exploitation BS mostly serves as a great big tool for people who wish to dismiss the actual concerns of feminism. They point to the absurd hysterical overreaction of a few humorless feminists and apply it to all feminists, conveniently avoiding actually addressing the issues in the meantime.

  • Claudia

    …and since this is a thread on feminism, and I’ve yet to see one not go awry I will add the caveat that I do NOT mean by this that any woman (see Miranda Celeste Hale above) raising a moderately toned concern about the matter is being a hysterical humorless drone. Though I disagree with the position, there is a legitimate discussion to be had about the use of naked lady flesh to attract attention to…well just about anything really. My issue is more with a general tone I’ve seen in my (admittedly few) incursions into the feminist blogosphere where there seemingly cannot be any form of overt female sexuality, no matter how voluntary and pertinent, that cannot be overanalyzed, criticised and declared self-hatred by what I hope is a very vocal minority of actual feminists.

  • @Linda,
    OneSTDV is looking to pick a fight with someone, plain and simple.
    He compares himself to Glenn Beck on his blog. “nuff said.

  • Claudia

    @The Godless Monster, I had totally not noticed the blog, I don’t usually click through. However you really extracted a pretty mild part of it. Personally I found to be more iluminating the description of Obama’s election as:

    the election of a blatantly racist, Marxist, anti-American, Arab apologist black man

    ooooohkaaaay then…

  • Ash

    Here is what Wikipedia says about “exploitation”:

    …exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for the benefit of others. This corresponds to one ethical conception of exploitation, that is, the treatment of human beings as mere means to an end—or as mere “objects”. In different terms, “exploitation” refers to the use of people as a resource, with little or no consideration of their well-being. This can take the following basic forms:

    * Taking something off a person or group that rightfully belongs to them
    * Short-changing people in trade
    * Directly or indirectly forcing somebody to work
    * Using somebody against his will, or without his consent or knowledge
    * Imposing an arbitrary differential treatment of people to the advantage of some and the disadvantage of others

    I agree with this general definition and I cannot think of how Boobquake represented a persistent mistreatment or unfair use of women with little or no consideration for their well-being. Some feminists seem to believe that if a man becomes sexually aroused by a woman, especially in public, then she is somehow being exploited. I like Greta because she does not seem to use sexual arousal itself as a measure of exploitation, but rather looks to freedom of expression. In other words, “Greta Feminism” = freedom of expression, not freedom from sexuality.

    Control of sexuality is one of the cornerstones of social control, and I won’t accept it in religious cults, government policy, or feminism. So there.

  • @Claudia,
    Yep…just like Glenn Beck, except not as rich…

  • Xena

    I wonder if OneSTD actually knows what communism is. I’d love to listen to his classifications of world political and economic sytems. Or whether or not he’s ever read Marx, Mill or even Adam Smith for that matter. I could start by asking an easier question, like whether he knows the difference between disposable income and discretionary income?

    And what are you left with when you take servile men, ugly women, mannish lesbians and sluts out of the world population?

    Redneck men, (or is that just men who can’t find a clittie?) gay bikers and butch gays, lipstick lesbians, intersex and transgendered people, and cute women who never get laid except when their husbands tell them it’s ok?

    I think he missed a few groups among feminists 😛

  • Xena

    With that said, I LOVE JEN’S BLOG!!! And boobquake was an adorable joke. Where I am, women are actually allowed to go topless, though the laws are a little too tricky to get into here. We have a few nude beaches, too. I’m kinda shy about going fully topless, but I wore something low cut with snug skinny jeans and girlie shoes. No earthquakes in Canada!

    @ Rajesh Shenoy, that’s an interesting idea. The Quebec government is giving Muslim women public school teachers and public servants a hard time about their face veils, which I think is hypocritical in the extreme. Our brand of multiculturalism came as a direct result of the compromises the French&English made over Catholicism. And now they’re attacking Muslim women for no good reason. If they’re working and they’re not bothering anybody, they’re contributing to our healthcare system& other investments in our people, so leave them alone. Many of the Muslim women I’ve worked and studied with have been feminists; some so liberal, they joke about using their headscarves to cover up on bad hair days!

    I’d love to see a group of brown AND white men and women–but especially the men– don burkas in protest. We’d have to add a touch of the absurd to make sure nobody thought it was a coup. Maybe have the men show their beards and hairy legs, and have all the non-Muslims (and less traditional Muslims) carrying big fat un-lit cigars painted with polka dots and loud colours, or maybe headscarves with maple leaves stitched on to demonstrate that a request to wear a face veil isn’t another request to pass Shariah law.

    And I think that nearly nude or fully burka clad should be the woman’s choice. If men get erections from looking at cleavage, that’s their problem. Akido& tae kwon do classes add a little weight to the word NO.

  • I’m really not trying to pick a fight. Third wave feminism is a means by which to normalize previously taboo lifestyles, including homosexuality and libertine sexual attitudes. [Note I have nothing against “teh gays”; they’re born that way and they can do whatever they want in their own bedrooms.]

    First wave feminism was about equal pay for equal work and undermining some legitimate workplace sexism. Those were noble goals, yet the current cadre of feminists have deviated from that mission.

  • Xena

    @Simon, I think I saw the “Feminist Debunker” title somewhere, too. I think that was just one of those journalist modifier hackjobs. I think Jen herself mentioned that she was a feminist on a quest to debunk superstitious claims, or something to that effect. The title was probably meant to convey something more like “Feminist Debunking Superstition” or “Feminist Debunks”. Or maybe even “Debunker Feminist”.

  • Xena

    First wave was about the vote, and domestic tyranny, OneSTDV. Women worked as nannies, nurses, teachers seamstresses and telephone operators back then, IF they were allowed to work at all. I think you’re referring to second wave feminism.

    Try auditing a class before you start making claims about what feminists do or what they’re like.

    If you’re not trying to pick a fight, I’m not either. But would you still like to give me your thoughts on Marx and feminism?

  • Aj

    It makes sense to do the opposite in protest. Women can do what the hell they want with their bodies. No one is exploiting them if it’s what they want to do. Women who are anti-pornography are either delusional or not feminists at all. The only people that call themselves feminists I have respect for are sex positive feminists. Feminism usually is meant to mean equal rights, freedom, for women. Feminism is not an excuse to attack male sexuality, even when what you’re actually attacking is sexuality that applies to both men and women (as I am sure some women like breasts, and others like exposing them), and that doesn’t apply to everyone (some people don’t like breasts).

    Veils are not a feminist issue. If I had kids and their teacher covered his or her face I’d be upset. In a number of situations, covering your face is not acceptable for doing your job, or using facilities for security reasons. Those that use a veil are an extreme minority of the minority Muslim populations in the West anyway, and it’s a likely possibility that they’ve been coerced or indoctrinated into wearing the veil in the first place. I am completely for freedom of expression, and I have no problem with people wearing or not wearing what they want, as long as it doesn’t impinge on the rights of others.

    Multiculturalism is an attack on atheism and individual rights. Religious people whether they’re Christian, Muslim, or any other religion expect to have exceptions from practical rules that would not be afforded to an individual or group of atheists. Their arguments for this are: they believe things without evidence that order them to break the rules, they’ve been told to break the rules for centuries, their whole group believe they should break the rules. An atheist, acting on their own, if asking for an exception from the rules, would be refused. Even when they can come up with a reason they’d want to, that doesn’t invoke arguments from popularity, tradition, or personal conviction, all of which are logical fallacies. Religions become privileged groups with special rights over people who have personal beliefs or no beliefs.

  • I think boobquake was totally feminist

    we chose to challenge the objectification of women by making fun of it

    seriously, how feminist can one woman be if she’s telling another woman how to be one or decide if she’s feminist enough?

  • Jeff Dale

    Seems to me that feminism’s goals (at least in matters sexual) would be well served by [1] reducing the tendency of men to be preoccupied with female bodies, [2] reducing the tendency of women to be preoccupied with the perceived defects of their own bodies, [3] eliminating the shame that both genders tend to feel with their sexual feelings.

    So wouldn’t it help in all these respects if women’s bodies were no longer treated as forbidden fruit to be hidden away? What if women felt free to dress themselves any way they felt like, and the sight of women’s bodies became more commonplace? Sure, there’d be a transition period in which the issue became more sensationalized, but eventually we’d get used to it. (Actually, that’s something like what’s happening in Western society right now.)

    Display of women’s bodies is still obsessively connected with sex. This makes for a load of unnecessary and unhealthy shame in women for displaying and in men for looking. This also makes it hard for some people (including some feminists) to see the benefit of de-sensationalizing the display of women’s bodies: they think more display leads to more obsession with sex. But isn’t there already about as much obsession with sex as can be, short of a mass outbreak of orgies? Isn’t it obvious that the reason is because our long bottled-up sexuality is finally starting to burst out under the pressure of its confinement and the tease of its potential release?

    Women displaying their bodies, and men looking at them, doesn’t diminish women by reducing them to sexual objects. To do that, you need to shame women into hiding their bodies, and shame men into suppressing their natural interest, thus exaggerating the emphasis on women’s bodies and drawing attention away from their other attributes.

    Set the expectations for men (feel free to look, but don’t be rude), and then back each other up in holding men to those expectations. It’ll take time, but it’s a start.

  • Seems to me that feminism’s goals (at least in matters sexual) would be well served by [1] reducing the tendency of men to be preoccupied with female bodies>

    Why dn’t we just start castrating men? That’ll work! [I love how atheists (I am one for the record) are pro-biology, then make statements like that.]

    Display of women’s bodies is still obsessively connected with sex.

    I can’t imagine why.

    Though you do make more sense later on in the post.

  • Aj, it depends what an anti-pornography person advocates for. Are you saying it’s a bad thing to raise awareness of the negative aspects of the industry ie objectification, dangerous working conditions, economic exploitation, etc? This is what the majority of anti-pornography feminists have been saying for decades, which is perfectly legitimate IMO.

    I disagree with assertions I’ve heard that someone who is anti-pornography is either “anti-sex” or “anti-free speech”, a false equvalency often repeated.

  • @Jeff Dale,

    You wrote: “Seems to me that feminism’s goals (at least in matters sexual) would be well served by [1] reducing the tendency of men to be preoccupied with female bodies, [2] reducing the tendency of women to be preoccupied with the perceived defects of their own bodies, [3] eliminating the shame that both genders tend to feel with their sexual feelings.”

    I agree. I don’t see how one can reconcile point 3 with point 1 without violating the laws of nature or circumventing logic. The only ways I can see to reduce that all-important-to-the-furtherance-of-the species “preoccupation” with women’s bodies is to either castrate men, or to make them ashamed to have these feelings at all and to suppress them.

  • Aj


    Aj, it depends what an anti-pornography person advocates for. Are you saying it’s a bad thing to raise awareness of the negative aspects of the industry ie objectification, dangerous working conditions, economic exploitation, etc? This is what the majority of anti-pornography feminists have been saying for decades, which is perfectly legitimate IMO.

    I disagree with assertions I’ve heard that someone who is anti-pornography is either “anti-sex” or “anti-free speech”, a false equvalency often repeated.

    That’s not what an anti-pornography person is, that’s not what they advocate for, it’s not about raising awareness of sexism or other wrongdoings in an industry, it’s an attack on pornography regardless of those things. You can be completely pro-pornography but against objectification, dangerous working conditions, economic exploitation because these things can exist in other occupations, in societies without pornography, and pornography can exist without them.

    You can be pro-pornography or at least neutral but hate certain porn production companies or certain movies. Some wait staff get mistreated and some restaurants sell veal, it’s not like people are anti-restaurants on this basis.

    It’s often repeated because it’s true. Anti-pornography “feminists” are anti-sex, they believe that expression of sexuality is wrong, whether it’s always or only when it’s an expression of male sexuality. Many anti-porngraphy “feminists” are anti-free speech, they advocate banning pornography. Anti-pornography “feminists” make wild claims backed up by no evidence, or contrary to the evidence, about the effects of watching pornography.

    Actually read anti-pornography “feminists”, they clearly have personal beliefs about expressing sexuality, some of them informed by religious beliefs.

  • Here’s what wikipedia says about sex-positive feminism with regards to pornography (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_views_on_pornography#Sex-positive_feminism):

    Sex-positive feminists take a variety of views towards existing pornography. Most view existing pornography as sexist and almost exclusive focused on the desires of heterosexual men. Nevertheless, many sex-positive feminists see even existing pornography as subverting many traditional ideas about women that they oppose, such as ideas that women do not like sex generally, only enjoy sex in a relational context, or that women only enjoy vanilla sex. Pornography often shows women in sexually dominant roles and presents women with a greater variety of body types than are typical of mainstream entertainment and fashion. Others view existing heterosexual male-oriented pornography as misogynist and rife with exploitation, but hold that feminist-produced and women-centered pornography is possible, and proposes to reform or radically alter the pornography industry.

    I highly doubt that there are many feminists (sex-positive or otherwise), that would argue that most pornography today (ie based on the current state of the industry) is somehow empowering to women. Maybe there are things that could be done to change this, but based on how the industry operates in its current form, I haven’t found this to be the case.

    “Potential” and “possibility” are two different things from facts on the ground is what I am saying.

  • Aj


    That’s unsourced speculation, I could easily edit it to say “a minority view pornography as sexist”, come back and write “here’s what wikipedia says”. I’d be interested to know how many feminists have enough knowledge of most pornography today to give an educated view, I certainly couldn’t. More importantly, even if you were of the opinion that most pornography is sexist and you were against sexism, that doesn’t mean you’re anti-pornography, it’s not a fundamental part of pornography. For instance, I don’t like the majority of movies I see, and I doubt I would like the majority of books published this year, but if someone asked me if I was anti-movie or anti-book I’d say “definitely not”.

    To expect pornography to be empowering to women is ridiculous. It might be, but that’s not what it was made for. It’s a fact that pornography is almost exclusively focused on the desires of heterosexual men. That shouldn’t be a negative against the industry or pornography. No one is stopping women from producing pornography for themselves, I’d encourage it. Romantic novels and comedies seem to be almost exclusively focused on the desires of heterosexual women. People are free to express themselves, if they don’t want to express themselves in certain ways but others do, I don’t understand why people are complaining about that.

    I have no problem with feminists who see and want to correct problems in any industry. They’re not anti-pornography, they don’t have prudish, conservative, or religious views against sexual expression, and they’re not going to try to ban free speech. People who are anti-porngraphy do hold those views, and many do want to ban free speech. Pornography is all forms of entertainment created for sexual purposes, and there’s a wealth of it that is not sexist.

  • Jeff Dale

    Seems to me that feminism’s goals (at least in matters sexual) would be well served by [1] reducing the tendency of men to be preoccupied with female bodies, [2] reducing the tendency of women to be preoccupied with the perceived defects of their own bodies, [3] eliminating the shame that both genders tend to feel with their sexual feelings.

    @OneSTDV: Why dn’t we just start castrating men? That’ll work! [I love how atheists (I am one for the record) are pro-biology, then make statements like that.]
    @The Godless Monster: I don’t see how one can reconcile point 3 with point 1 without violating the laws of nature or circumventing logic.The only ways I can see to reduce that all-important-to-the-furtherance-of-the species “preoccupation” with women’s bodies is to either castrate men, or to make them ashamed to have these feelings at all and to suppress them.

    Looks like I need to clarify.

    There’s a big difference between a preoccupation with sex and a preoccupation with women’s bodies. The point I’m making is that our sexual prudery conflates and confuses the two.

    Extreme illustration: Suppose nudity became common (except in cold weather), and we look 2 or 3 generations down the line to the point where nudity is routine and unremarkable. Men pretty much see naked women all the time, everywhere, every day. Do you honestly think we’d have a society in which men are crazy with lust, chasing women all the time and unable to hold jobs or maintain families? (Keep in mind that I’m talking about 2 or 3 generations hence, not tomorrow.) For that matter, do you think that’s what happens in current-day pre-technological cultures where nudity is normal?

    Nonsense. I’m not saying men don’t have a natural interest in women’s bodies, or that they shouldn’t think of sex when they see one. I’m just saying that making women’s bodies forbidden fruit artificially inflames that sexual reaction and crowds out other thoughts. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    Just run the numbers (simplistic cases for purpose of illustration):

    Case 1: Suppose a man sees one woman wearing cleavage-baring outfits today, and every other woman he sees is fully covered. That one woman seems like a rare treat for him; he naturally latches onto her physical attributes. His view of her has been reduced to a crude assessment of her sexual suitability and the possibility (or fantasy) of having sex with her.

    Case 2: Suppose a man of similar temperament in another society sees 300 women in cleavage-baring outfits today. And suppose it’s true that men in this other society would consider 300 a day to be average and routine. This man has 300 experiences every day of seeing cleavage and not proceeding to sex, instead of just one. Cleavage to him is commonplace: he still enjoys it, but his enjoyment is not hugely magnified by rarity and taboo. Unlike the first guy, this man has plenty of experience dealing with cleavage-baring women in day-to-day, non-sexual matters, and he’s accustomed to taking the time to see the whole woman behind the outward appearance. And when he does get into a sexual situation, it’s not all about the outward appearance for him.

    Now if I’m wrong about this, and if the alternative you imply is right, then I guess we men are all stuck with becoming drooling idiots every time we see a little skin, and if we see twice as much skin, we’ll be twice as idiotic. Or we can all get castrated. How is that “pro-biology”? Obviously, we’re all going to have sexual urges, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But covering up and promoting shame distorts our sexuality by over-emphasizing appearance at the expense of everything else.

    Or, to put it another way, what if every day were Boobquake? Wouldn’t it get pretty boring after a while? Boobs, boobs, boobs everywhere: they’re nice, but so what?

  • @Jeff Dale,
    Got it..
    A little clarification goes a long way 🙂

  • Jeff Dale


    Great! I was trying not to sound too combative, but two different people seemed to think that my view implied the need for castration, and I was a bit startled by that, and thought I had been more clear. I’d give you a smiley emoticon too, but I don’t know how. Anyway, cheers!

  • Beijingrrl

    I supported Boobquake and I’d support Burqaquake, too. I don’t think that wearing a burqa in the West, automatically means a woman is oppressed. I’ve met quite a few women who made that choice freely as adults. I find it much more oppressive that a government feels it has the right to tell people what they can or cannot wear except in very rare instances. An example of when it would be appropriate is when passing through a security check point. But telling people they can’t attend school? Ridiculous, in my opinion. And if the goal is to make women less oppressed, forcing them to remain home and become isolated seems very counterproductive. These laws are being proposed based on fear of radical Muslim groups changing a society and it is assumed that the women are not willing participants. So let’s tackle that. Let’s give these women more opportunities to integrate into society, not less. At some point they may choose to stop wearing burqas. Or they may not. But that should be left to the individual.

  • muggle


  • Rajesh Shenoy

    @Xena: Yay! High-five! Coffee/tea/me? 😉
    @Beijingrrl: Yay! 🙂

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