Monday, April 26, 2010


(The Onion)

If you haven't heard of Boobquake yet, pull up a chair and let me tell you about it. Last week, an Iranian boob cleric made the following comment:
"Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes… What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes."
Old story, right? During the 80's, there was a dog-eared copy of The Watchtower proclaiming that sin caused earthquakes in the geology students' study room... it may still be there, as far as I know. And as far as I know, this little bit of perniciousness goes back to the beginnings of guilt-oriented religions: when bad things happen to people, it's because the people have been bad. And to prevent bad things happening, all you have to do is what you're told, as channeled from God via their human mouth pieces. Bleargh.

So in response to this particular piece of oral flatulence, Blag Hag, AKA Jen McCreight, a graduate student at Purdue, established Boobquake to test the hypothesis, "Female immodesty triggers earthquakes." She has been promoting the event at her blog, and created a Facebook page, encouraging people to participate to the extent of their comfort.
"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."
Below is a photo from her most recent post, as of this writing, demonstrating her earnest effort to incur the wrath of... whatever deity is in charge of making the earth jiggle shake.
Okay, I've been aware of this for a while; as you might guess, this sort of thing gets loose in the geoblogosphere very, very quickly. It's not the kind of thing I tend to blog about, though. So why the exception? There have been such a raft of posts, ranging from hysterical to thoughtful, that I just had to acknowledge the incredible power of boobs.It's kind of odd to find myself posting photos of immodestly dressed women, but in the spirit of scientific inquiry, I feel compelled to participate. And obviously, my own hairy manboobs do not possess the "supernatural power" of women's mammaries.

So without further ado, here are some of posts others have put out there, and pushed me to participate:

Lee Allison at Arizona Geology

Anne Jefferson at Highly Allochthonous, with the following quote from Jen, which went a long way toward calming my discomfort at what seemed initially an exercise in objectification:
I'm asking women to wear their most "immodest" outfit that they already would wear, but to coordinate it all on the same day for the sake of the experiment. Heck, just showing an ankle would be considered immodest by some people. I don't want to force people out of their comfort zones, because I believe women have the right to choose how they want to dress. Please don't pressure women to participate if they don't want to. If men ogle, that's the fault of the men, not me for dressing how I like. If I want to a show a little cleavage or joke about my boobs, that's my prerogative.
And also, Rachel at 4.5 Billion Years of Wonder helped clarify the feminist issues here:
Right now, it's easier for women who meet societal beauty standards to have that required confidence. But you know what? There's a lot of women who don't match that ridiculous beauty ideal who still have that amazing confidence, and good on them. And those of us that don't? It's not the fault of a silly event like Boobquake, and no one is getting on our case about it anyway.
So this event in and of itself isn't about objectification, but the reaction to it is symptomatic of society's incapacity to deal with women's sexuality and objectification.

Chuck at Lounge of the Lab Lemming makes the case that we already have a robust data set to test the hypothesis.

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, notes that there is a certain risk in this undertaking:
And there’s the weakness in the Boobquake plan. The idea of Boobquake is to debunk the cleric by saying that women can reveal their boobs and not start a seismic event (ignoring perhaps the tremors caused by geek guys habitually running to their computers every few minutes and checking for updates). But without defining the time period, the earthquake size, and the region in advance, this can actually reinforce the cleric’s claims! Given the huge tracts of land involved, no matter when women of the world unveil their decolletage, there is bound to be a magnitude 5 quake within an hour or so of the event, and a mag 6 quake within a day.
He also posted the following photo with the caption, "The actual cleavage
that causes earthquakes."
Which is all well and good, except that's not cleavage. This is cleavage (from):Goodness. (pant, pant) Talk about immodest! And for my final link,

So there you have it. I officially acknowledge the arcane powers of certain lady parts to cause wanton destruction over huge tracts of land. I'll tack on one more photo almost guaranteed to trigger a 9.5 along my neighborhood subduction zone.


Tengrain said...

Lockwood, that's a post for the ages.

I might have to bookmark it and come back for more study.



Jennifer said...

Nice little roundup. I'm glad to see the clarifications by Jen and others. I didn't join the groups or "like" the posts and whatnot because my main (umm) exposure to it all was via the panting guys' reactions to same. Ugh. Yeah, we need more of that on the Internet.