Last week a woman in Indiana shot off a quick blog post in response to a report in the Chicago Tribune about an Iranian Muslim cleric who said immodestly dressed women corrupt young men and spread adultery, and consequently cause earthquakes.

“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. Sedighi is Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader.

Jen McCreight’s response, between putting down her university coursework and watching television?

Time for a Boobquake.

On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that’s your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I’m sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn’t rumble. And if we really get through to him, maybe it’ll be one involving plate tectonics.

Now, let’s talk about science, theism and feminism.

Science. I think Boobquake is brilliant. In a paragraph, McCreight sets out an (admittedly unrealistic for strict scientific exploration, of course) experiment to test Sedighi’s assertion. Yeah, it’s cheeky, and yeah, she meant it facetiously. But who cares? This is an important lesson, kids: Question people’s assertions – especially the ones coming from those you hold to have such great authority that you make decisions in your life based on what they say. Question them often and when you do, question them responsibly. If they make an assertion of fact you’d like to question, gather a large enough sample, allow for scientific controls and analyze the data without bias (even if you have bias). Then come to your own conclusions, keeping in mind how flawed your experimental design might have been.

Theism. People invoke god and religion to keep other people down. Not everyone does this, of course. But there’s no denying that it happens a lot. To an appalling extent, really. On my most cynical days, I wonder how we’ve managed to survive this long having used religion against ourselves for so many millenniums. It’s not okay. It’s not okay for women or men to be held to have different rights, different privileges, or less power in society simply because of their sex. Ever. It’s not okay EVER. When religion is used as some sort of justification for inequality and oppression, the people using it that way are WRONG.

Feminism. Boobquake has become this week’s excuse for a feminist pissing contest. There seems to be constant competition to be the best feminist (and really, when it comes to realms of activism, this holds for all of them – animal rights, environmentalism, etc.) in the world. The best feminist (environmentalist, vegetarian) in the world is the most righteous (and therefore earns the privilege of being the most self-righteous), knows which products of culture are acceptable and which ones aren’t, knows the most about history and philosophy, knows which decisions are okay and which ones aren’t, knows which jokes are funny and which ones aren’t, and earns the right to live her life within perfect feminist (environmentalist, etc.) harmony while verbally abusing those whom she thinks are wrong and who therefore contribute to the evils she’s dedicated to fighting.

Now, you betcha I’m a feminist. And you betcha, I recognize vast swaths of grey area surrounding every single issue that’s ever stirred debate or controversy. And you betcha I’ve probably just offended lots of feminists; maybe some of them will even decide I’m not a feminist based on this short blog post. But I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and I just don’t care. I’m telling you this because maybe you think Boobquake is a blight on feminism, and so you’re compelled to question my celebration of it knowing I identify as a feminist. I’m telling you this because I’m very comfortable knowing there are a million sides to every topic, and on this particular topic I’ve chosen my side and I don’t much care to piss to see if I’m more right than someone who’s chosen another side.

For me, it’s the science that makes Boobquake important. Oh man, science is important. Science that challenges institutionalized, religion-based misogyny, with humour, is a special kind of important.

Oh, and I totally own a good cleavage shirt. I wear it sometimes, too, not even to make a point about some or another dogma I subscribe to. Tomorrow, though, I’m going to wear it so I can be one of hundreds of thousands of data points for McCreight’s experiment. Maybe I’ll schmear some glitter on my girls while I’m at it, but probably not. That’s just not how I roll.

There’s a Boobquake meetup in Gastown in Vancouver tomorrow night, too. I hope you’ll make it. And if you’re a dude, I hope you’ll come, too. Not to oggle, because, really, I doubt anyone there will be dressed much differently than they might be on any other night out on the town (the invective instruction is, after all, to wear something you already own) and I’m sure you only make eye contact when you talk to women in bars anyway, but to support the effort to chip away at misogynistic religious nuttery, one viral boob joke at a time.

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