Well, at least the Catholics will just come out and say it

Plenty of religions are misogynist, but like to play it off as being in the best interest of the women (Burkas? Clitoridectomies? Forced childbirth? Totally for your own good, honey). But you have to give it to the Catholic Church for being honest:

“Three Catholic women’s communities in Washington state are being investigated by the Vatican. They were chosen for review as part of an extensive investigation into American nuns. The Vatican says it’s following up on complaints of feminism and activism.”

You know, I have a t-shirt that says “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” I think that is honestly the simplest definition for feminism – equality for women.

Splendid to know the Vatican is against that.

Instead of raging, I think I’ll let Tim Minchin take it away:


(Via Pandagon)

A confession of astronomical proportions

I used to believe in astrology.

That’s embarrassing for me to admit, now that I’m a strong skeptic – but it’s true. While I never really believed in God, I wasn’t totally immune to supernatural thinking my whole life. Between age 13 and 17 I was very into astrology. Out of all things, why that? I think it happened for three main reasons:

  1. I was fascinated with astronomy when I was a little kid – it was the first science I loved, much more than my current field of biology. I loved learning about stars and planets, star gazing, and picking out constellations. I can still point out all the different patterns in the night sky (though I’ve always known the winter sky better). I was part of our elementary school astronomy club, and I was dying to go to Space Camp (but I could never convince my parents to let me). Because of my love for space, I think the idea of it having some sort of supernatural power really resonated with me.
  2. I think that’s an age where everyone is looking for answers, and I settled on the stars. By age 13, I was already fairly certain that the idea of God or gods was just silly. I was exposed to different religions enough to logically think about their flaws and come to the conclusion that they were wrong. But no one really debated astrology, so I wasn’t forced to think critically about it.
  3. I felt like I had proof. I’m a Scorpio, and the description just seemed to fit me so well – determined, passionate, secretive, moody, obsessed with sex. I now know that this is hardly proof (more on that later), but it was convincing evidence to a young girl.

Now, before you laugh at me, remember most atheists were at one point religious. Is believing that planets have some sort of control over your personality really that much more insane than believing in an invisible supreme being that cares about what you eat and screw, and sends his own son (who’s also himself) down to earth to save you from something bad one of your ancestors did by dying and coming back to life?

Didn’t think so.

Anyway, when I say I was really into astrology, I mean it. I didn’t believe in newspaper horoscopes because I didn’t think they were done rigorously enough. I had books on astrology and drew my own charts. I would defend astrology and explain that it’s much more than your sun sign – that you have to look at the planets, and ascendants, and lunar nodes, and angles between all of these things, and what houses they were in… It was a complex art, and I told myself that people rejected it because they were only seeing the pop culture version of it.

Remind you of anything? Yeah, Christians versed in theology who claim people who attack “simple Christianity” aren’t really understanding what it’s really like. Astrology is no different, and let me tell you – something can be complex and nuanced and still be bullshit.

So why do I bring this up at all? Well, thanks to the boobquake media attention, I was contacted by the astrologer Eric Francis. He was a huge fan of boobquake, and extremely friendly. Even though he knew that as a skeptic I would probably think astrology is bullshit, he still wanted to do my chart for me (and gave me permission to poke fun at it). Eric didn’t know about my past relationship with astrology, which made me unable to resist. Even though I no longer believe in it, I wanted to know what a “real” astrologer would say.

You can find his full analysis here, but here’s just a taste:

“And as you might imagine, she’s got it all going on — a Sun-Pluto conjunction in Scorpio, in the 8th house (she jokingly described herself as a sex-obsessed Scorpio, though her precise Sun-Pluto conjunction in the 8th house turns up the heat by a few orders of magnitude). This powerful alignment is conjunct the asteroid Astraea, the goddess of justice. So this is passion driven by a sense of balance and integrity.

Boobquake was planned for Monday, when the Full Moon happened to be fast approaching, carrying lots of momentum — with the Moon itself reaching full phase exactly conjunct her natal Sun/Pluto conjunction. So she was in the cosmic spotlight as well as the regular one. The Full Moon so personally aspected against her chart provided a sense of emotional presence, which is why this event, while funny, was taken seriously.”

Yes, I understand all of that. How I wish I could replace my astrological knowledge with those biochemistry reactions I was supposed to memorize.

It sounds cool, doesn’t it? Seems to make perfect sense (especially if you read the whole article) and fit the story well, right? That’s why astrology can be so convincing. It relies on something known as confirmation bias – people tend to remember accurate predictions and forget the inaccurate ones. Eric was able to come up with multiple examples of things that support my personality (which he learned about from my blog) and boobquake (which he learned about from the media). But he doesn’t analyze every single relationship in the chart (see all those lines in the middle?). I’m rusty on my astrology, but I assure you there will be things that don’t quite fit in there.

What I really should have done is given Eric fake birth information for me and see if he still makes it fit his story. Something tells me he still would have been able to dig some meaning out of that different chart. Unfortunately for skepticism, I was too nice to turn his good intentions into a science experiment.

But you want to know what the really interesting thing about that chart was? When I saw it, my initial thought wasn’t “I’m going to write up a huge post debunking astrology!” It wasn’t even “Now I can write a little backstory about how I used to believe this crap!”

It was “Wow, how cool!”

Even four years after “losing my faith” in astrology, I still had an emotional reaction to it. All the emotional triggers were there, and I felt that same excited rush as when I would look at my own chart, or draw up a chart for a friend, or read about complex interactions that I didn’t originally understand. I used to not understand my religious friends when they explained the same experience. That an ex-Catholic would go to mass, and even though they no longer believed a word of it, they easily went through all the motions and had the same emotional reaction to their surroundings. That a crucifix or stained glass could trigger memories and dig up old feelings. That hearing an old hymn could make you feel closer to God, even if you now think he’s a fairy tale. That being told about the horrible torture in hell can instill fear in your heart, even if you know it’s not real.

Do these things prove that astrology or Catholicism are true? Of course not. What they show is how deeply people can get emotionally connected to their superstitions. That even after years of rational thought, certain stimuli still result in trained reactions. We all know about Pavlov’s dogs, but we have a hard time admitting it applies to us too.

Even though I know astrology is bunk, I don’t think I’ll ever totally shake the emotional connection. If people ask my sign, I’ll still happily reply “Scorpio!” out of habit (hey, at least it’s the most badass sign to have). If skeptical men use that as a dating litmus test, I’m screwed. When people poke fun at the vagueness of sun signs (the Forer effect), I’ll instinctively start explaining how it’s more complex than that, even though that’s bunk too – much like an ex-Catholic may still explain that no, Catholics don’t worship Mary, even though what they do believe is still nonsense. I’ll still poke through the Sextrology book at Borders and giggle at what my supposed kinks are because of my particular planetary alignment.

And while I still may get some enjoyment out of it, at least I know it’s not real. Now it’s similar to my fascination with Harry Potter – I can babble about how I’d totally be a Ravenclaw, but I don’t really think magic is real and my Hogwarts letter got lost in the mail. If I ever become a true believer again, feel free to stick me on the first train to crazy town – especially if it’s scarlet.

Charismatic prayers shut off skeptical part of believers’ brains

No, this isn’t me attempting to call theists stupid – it’s a new study out in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. From New Scientist:

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Schjødt and his colleagues scanned the brains of 20 Pentecostalists and 20 non-believers while playing them recorded prayers. The volunteers were told that six of the prayers were read by a non-Christian, six by an ordinary Christian and six by a healer. In fact, all were read by ordinary Christians.

Only in the devout volunteers did the brain activity monitored by the researchers change in response to the prayers. Parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and scepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated when the subjects listened to a supposed healer. Activity diminished to a lesser extent when the speaker was supposedly a normal Christian (Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsq023).

Schjødt says that this explains why certain individuals can gain influence over others, and concludes that their ability to do so depends heavily on preconceived notions of their authority and trustworthiness.

It’s not clear whether the results extend beyond religious leaders, but Schjødt speculates that brain regions may be deactivated in a similar way in response to doctors, parents and politicians.

It’s always fascinating to me when we find more and more scientific discoveries that explain religious behavior. Of course, I still wonder what the causal relationship here is. Do people become believers because the logical part of their brain shuts off when presented with unsupported religious woo? Or does the logical part of the brain shut off only in believers who have been trained to accept that people like faith healers are telling the truth?

(Via Boing Boing)

Charismatic prayers shut off skeptical part of believers' brains

No, this isn’t me attempting to call theists stupid – it’s a new study out in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. From New Scientist:

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Schjødt and his colleagues scanned the brains of 20 Pentecostalists and 20 non-believers while playing them recorded prayers. The volunteers were told that six of the prayers were read by a non-Christian, six by an ordinary Christian and six by a healer. In fact, all were read by ordinary Christians.

Only in the devout volunteers did the brain activity monitored by the researchers change in response to the prayers. Parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and scepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated when the subjects listened to a supposed healer. Activity diminished to a lesser extent when the speaker was supposedly a normal Christian (Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsq023).

Schjødt says that this explains why certain individuals can gain influence over others, and concludes that their ability to do so depends heavily on preconceived notions of their authority and trustworthiness.

It’s not clear whether the results extend beyond religious leaders, but Schjødt speculates that brain regions may be deactivated in a similar way in response to doctors, parents and politicians.

It’s always fascinating to me when we find more and more scientific discoveries that explain religious behavior. Of course, I still wonder what the causal relationship here is. Do people become believers because the logical part of their brain shuts off when presented with unsupported religious woo? Or does the logical part of the brain shut off only in believers who have been trained to accept that people like faith healers are telling the truth?

(Via Boing Boing)

I’m going to be published!!!

Yes, that warrants three exclamation marks.

You may or may not have heard of the book The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas. It was released in the UK last year to raise money for the Terrence Higgins Trust, a UK HIV charity. Here’s a little summary of the book from Amazon:

42 atheist celebrities, comedians, scientists and writers give their funny and serious tips for enjoying the Christmas season. Last year, Guardian journalist Ariane Sherine launched the Atheist Bus Campaign and ended up raising over GBP150,000, enough to place the advert ‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’ on 800 UK buses in January 2009. Now Ariane and dozens of other atheist writers, comedians and scientists are joining together to raise money for a very different cause. The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas is a funny, thoughtful handbook all about enjoying Christmas, from 42 of the world’s most entertaining atheists. It features everything from an atheist Christmas miracle to a guide to the best Christmas pop hits.

Well, it turns out HarperCollins is developing a US edition, and they wanted to add a couple American authors to make it more appealing to this side of the pond. And because of all the boobquake media attention, one of their editors stumbled upon my blog and said they loved my writing and sense of humor. I was asked to do a longer humor piece on atheist toys, based off of my Atheist Barbie joke! Excuse the caps lock, but:

I AM SO FREAKING HAPPY!

It’s been a goal of mine to get my creative work published ever since I was a little kid. I’ve been writing fiction stories since second grade, have a novel fairly far in progress (and other ideas that are less developed), have taken creative writing classes whenever I can, and absolutely love writing (which hopefully you can tell from my blog). I always said I wanted to be published before I graduated college, and there was that nagging cynical voice in the back of my head that said it wouldn’t happen. But now due to the bizarre circumstances of an offhanded joke becoming internationally popular, my dream is literally coming true.

I can’t believe I’m going to be published in the same book as fabulous writers that I deeply respect, like Richard Dawkins, Simon Singh, AC Grayling, Phil Plait, and Ariane Sherine. And not only that, but the editor reacted so positively to my piece (which is the top secret project I’ve been working on the last week), that this will probably open a lot of doors for me.

The US edition will be released on November 2, 2010 (my birthday! What are the odds?). The Amazon page for it is a little sparse now, but you can preorder it here. If you order the editions of it that are already released, they won’t have me in it.

I didn’t think anything could top the Colbert Report…but fulfilling this dream at age 22 kind of wins.
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

I'm going to be published!!!

Yes, that warrants three exclamation marks.

You may or may not have heard of the book The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas. It was released in the UK last year to raise money for the Terrence Higgins Trust, a UK HIV charity. Here’s a little summary of the book from Amazon:

42 atheist celebrities, comedians, scientists and writers give their funny and serious tips for enjoying the Christmas season. Last year, Guardian journalist Ariane Sherine launched the Atheist Bus Campaign and ended up raising over GBP150,000, enough to place the advert ‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’ on 800 UK buses in January 2009. Now Ariane and dozens of other atheist writers, comedians and scientists are joining together to raise money for a very different cause. The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas is a funny, thoughtful handbook all about enjoying Christmas, from 42 of the world’s most entertaining atheists. It features everything from an atheist Christmas miracle to a guide to the best Christmas pop hits.

Well, it turns out HarperCollins is developing a US edition, and they wanted to add a couple American authors to make it more appealing to this side of the pond. And because of all the boobquake media attention, one of their editors stumbled upon my blog and said they loved my writing and sense of humor. I was asked to do a longer humor piece on atheist toys, based off of my Atheist Barbie joke! Excuse the caps lock, but:

I AM SO FREAKING HAPPY!

It’s been a goal of mine to get my creative work published ever since I was a little kid. I’ve been writing fiction stories since second grade, have a novel fairly far in progress (and other ideas that are less developed), have taken creative writing classes whenever I can, and absolutely love writing (which hopefully you can tell from my blog). I always said I wanted to be published before I graduated college, and there was that nagging cynical voice in the back of my head that said it wouldn’t happen. But now due to the bizarre circumstances of an offhanded joke becoming internationally popular, my dream is literally coming true.

I can’t believe I’m going to be published in the same book as fabulous writers that I deeply respect, like Richard Dawkins, Simon Singh, AC Grayling, Phil Plait, and Ariane Sherine. And not only that, but the editor reacted so positively to my piece (which is the top secret project I’ve been working on the last week), that this will probably open a lot of doors for me.

The US edition will be released on November 2, 2010 (my birthday! What are the odds?). The Amazon page for it is a little sparse now, but you can preorder it here. If you order the editions of it that are already released, they won’t have me in it.

I didn’t think anything could top the Colbert Report…but fulfilling this dream at age 22 kind of wins.
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

The Iranian and Muslim response to Boobquake

I freely admit that Boobquake did not begin as social commentary on women’s rights in Iran or criticism aimed at Muslims. It simply started as a humorous “science” experiment to promote skeptical thinking and poke fun at the cleric’s hateful, superstitious view of women. Because Boobquake had such a simple beginning, many people have been tweeting at me that it is somehow anti-Muslim or anti-Iranian. Some feminists have complained that it ignores the real plight of women in Iran and is insulting to their struggles.

I could write a long post about why I disagree, but I don’t think this is my place to speak. I’m not well versed in Iranian politics, I’m not a scholar of Islam, and I’m not an expert of women’s rights in the Middle East. I’m just a feminist who likes to promote skeptical thinking and whose idea accidentally started important discussion.

But I have been getting immensely positive feedback from people who do understand these things. I’ve received dozens and dozens of emails from male and female Iranians (some still in Iran, some abroad) who have been thanking me for Boobquake and standing up against the ridiculous cleric. The only concerned emails I’ve received have been from people making sure I don’t think all Iranians think the same way as that man – and I definitely do not. I can’t share the emails here for the sake of their privacy and safety (especially for those still in Iran), but I am going to share some public statements that have been made. I think they speak for themselves:

An open message from Mina Ahadi, International Committee Against Executions and Stoning; Mahin Alipour, Equal Rights Now – Organisation Against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; Shahla Daneshfar, Equal Rights Now – Organisation Against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; and Maryam Namazie, Iran Solidarity:

Dear Jennifer

We wanted to write and congratulate you on ‘boobquake.’ As signatories to the Manifesto of Liberation of Women in Iran and Iran Solidarity, we felt strongly that it was an important act in defence of women’s rights and human dignity. This is particularly so given the silence of so many feminists who seem to have succumbed to the racist concept of cultural relativism that implies that women choose to live the way they are forced to. Clearly though, women everywhere want to live lives worthy of the 21st century and not under medievalism and religious rules. That is why you have received so much support from people in Iran for this action. This support is a reflection of a strong women’s liberation movement, which is leading many of the ongoing protests there.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi’s views are not merely those of a madman but of the state, the judicial system and the educational system. Under Sharia law, for example, a women’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s, women are still being stoned to death for sex outside of marriage (with the law even specifying the size of the stone to be used), women and girls are denied access to certain fields of study (they can’t be judges for example as they are deemed to be too ‘emotional’), and they have no right to travel or even work without the permission of their male guardians. Like racial apartheid in the former South Africa, sexual apartheid demands that women and girls be veiled, sit at the back of buses, and enter via separate government building entrances. Yet despite 31 years of this brutality, women continue to refuse and resist, including by unveiling or ‘improper’ veiling, even though they are arrested, fined and harassed daily. This resistance is why every now and then leading clerics like Sedighi feel the need to intervene and blame women for some calamity or another. Acts of real human solidarity like yours helps to mobilise opposition to this misogyny whilst strengthening and encouraging the women’s liberation movement in Iran.

We look forward to working closely with you from now on and know you will continue to support our efforts.

Excerpts from Fault-Lines and Hem-Lines, by Samira Mohyeddin, an Iranian-Canadian feminist and activist wrote writes at Iranian.com:

What Brainquake conveniently fails to acknowledge is that preacher Pat and the 700 Club, do not run the United States government. However, Mr. Sedighi’s comments are the hallmark of the regime in Iran, a system of governance that has mandated that all girls, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike must cover their hair and dress in a modest manner from the age of nine on! Let’s talk about that! Let’s talk about the sexualization of pre-pubescent girls! These are not social constructs in Iran, this is the law for the past thirty-one years. Women’s bodies in Iran are legally not their own: women have no freedom of mobility, nor freedom to clothe themselves as they see fit. Brainquake’s churlish comparison between a woman’s CHOICE to show her cleavage and FORCED hijab is irresponsible and a further slap in the face to all those women being subjugated under such misogynistic and patriarchal laws. It is as reprehensible a comparison as breast augmentation would be to female genital mutilation.

[...] Boobquake was rightly making a mockery of a comment made by a moronic cleric in the Islamic Republic. Brainquake’s – HEY EVERYBODY WE HAVE BRAINS! – project is further unpalatable because of its pandering to a challenge that women should not even be engaged in; we should not have to sell ourselves and our accomplishments, we should not have to sell our boobs or our brains; if after more than a century of struggle for our inalienable rights we are still shouting these banal and insipid statements as women – perhaps it is us and our movement that needs a shaking at the core, and not mother earth. You see, I am not interested in being invited to join the Islamic Republic at its table; I want to cut its legs off.

[...] I am most proud of growing up and living in a society that did not try and shame my body, and that did not fascistically attempt to shape my mind. I am proud that I do not need the written permission of the male guardian in my family to board a train to Montreal. I am proud of my Masters in Women and Gender studies from the University of Toronto. I am proud that I am allowed to ride my bicycle throughout this beautiful city and I am proud that the country of Canada, for the past fifteen years has recognized my inalienable right to go topless, should I so choose to do so. But what I am most proud of is my ability to distinguish between something that is chosen by me and something that is physically forced upon me.

Excerpt from Women and earthquake: comedy or tragedy? by Khalil Keyvan:

Dear Jennifer

You, I and millions of people laughed at the Mullahs uncontrollably. Subject of ridicule, they have been for the past thirty one years; a rich source and inspiration for many original jokes. They have always been marginalized and hated characters in the community. However, no one could imagine that such social creatures could one day decide the fate of a people. Today, more than ever, these guys are hated for their unimaginable cruelty.

And who would have imagined that a stupid Mullah’s remarks about earthquake and veil would get such a broad coverage in the media. Seldom have such satires reverberated on such a scale across the world and united people in such a way. Your creativity and initiative has set in motion a truly global movement to combat the Mullahs and support the cause of women’s liberation in Iran, and this is much appreciated.

We all laughed together. However, my laughter is bitter too. As I laugh, the human tragedies in the past 31 years of Islamic rule in Iran is reviewed for me like a movie. This comedy reflects a massive human tragedy for a population that has borne the brunt of this savagery. For thirty one years we have ridiculed these Mullahs, while at the same time crying our hearts out. I remember my friends, tens of thousands of people who were executed by these thugs, my young friend who wished to play with his father who was hanged by the same people, and my own child who was born in prison and because of the unhygienic environment only lived for one month.

We know these clerics well by their nonsense but also by their associated brutality indicated by the unmarked mass graves, prisons and tortures. Mullahs, for us, mean women with absolutely no legal rights, compulsory veil and religious police. They are serial killers representing God on earth fighting enemies of god. We remember the men and women who were raped in the ghastly Kahrizak prison so as to break their spirits. And we are reminded of the thousands of men and women who are presently in the Islamic Republic’s prisons, under pressure and torture, and with some at risk of execution.

[...] The reason for writing this letter is first and foremost to express my appreciation of your hard-hitting ridicule of the mullahs in Iran and of religious fanaticism and your support of women’s rights. Women and all of the people in Iran need friends like you all over the world in order to free themselves from the hell they are stuck in.

Here are some public comments left on my blog by Iranians:

From farzam: I am an iranian and im totally familiar with theses lunatic comments. these idiots are uneducated and as you may know blood thirsty as well. anyway what you’ve done so far is just fantastic. i thank you from me and majority of iranians who just laugh at bubble head mullas. good luck with boob quake “movement”! wish someday everybody can live free!

From Mahsa: I am writing from Tehran. I love your boobquake idea…It’s good to see people care about the repressions in Iran.

From Irani: Dear Jen, you may have no idea yourself, but with this post you have served the cause of freedom for men and women of Iran in a very concrete and powerful way, and, as an Iranian, I want to thank you for that and to let you know that we owe you a great deal. It seems like you are also getting media attention for this, which makes me happy to know -you deserve every bit of that! Once this crazy regime of the apes is gone and Iran hopefully finds a chance to experience peace and freedom, you should come to Iran to see for yourself what you have contributed to!

From Nima: Hello and Salam and Hallo, I am an Iranian from Germany and I want to thank all you cool girls for this reaction to this dumb gouverment. Thank you. Peace through science and knowlegde.

And finally, media coverage from BBC Persia, for any of you who speak Persian:

Why boobquake isn’t destroying feminism

Greta Christina, a wonderful feminist writer who I respect immensely, has written a piece called A Feminist Defense of Boobquake. Greta perfectly summarizes how I feel in regards to all the women who seem to think I’m single-handedly destroying feminism. Just to give you an idea what it’s about, here’s a bit of the piece:

The main feminist objection to Boobquake seemed to be that the women who participated were letting ourselves be exploited. They argued that many men reacted to the event with sexist, “Show us your tits!” idiocy—a reaction McCreight should have foreseen, and was therefore responsible for. Even if the intention behind the event was good (a point on which anti-Boobquake feminists differ)—even though the event was initiated by a woman and voluntarily participated in by women—the result was simply another round of female bodies being objectified by men.

Ah. I see.

Women ought not to display our sexuality—because men can’t be trusted. In the presence of a display of desirable female flesh, men will lose control of themselves. Women ought to dress modestly, and ought not to encourage other women to dress immodestly… and if we persist in our immodesty, and men respond by behaving badly, it’s women’s fault.

It all makes sense now. I just need one question cleared up:

How, exactly, is this “feminist” response to Boobquake anything but a more moderate version of the statement by the Muslim prayer leader? (Minus the supernatural idiocy about earthquakes, of course.)

How is this “feminist” response anything but an attempt to squash female expressions of our sexuality, for fear of whipping men into an uncontrollable frenzy?

How is it anything other than blaming women for the fact that many men behave badly?

Hear hear.

I’m not going to spent much more time defending my feminism, mainly because I have better things to do with my time. If you want to assert that I’m not a real feminist, go ahead. I don’t care if you want to turn your allies into enemies. If you want to assert that I’m falling into the trap of “cute” feminism because I dare to joke about my body, go ahead. I may laugh a bit, since I’m one of the least stereotypically “feminine” people I know, but judge away. If you want to slut shame and think embracing my sexuality is giving women a bad image, go ahead. I know that doing so doesn’t mean I’m ditzy or brainless – I know I’m a smart cookie, regardless of what you think.

But when you’re doing all of these things, just remember: Feminism is about choice. I never forced you to wear a low cut shirt. I won’t judge you if you abstain from sex. I won’t sneer when you say you’re a stay at home mom. And likewise, you shouldn’t have disdain for my choices. Feminists always wonder where all the “young” feminists are. We’re here, but we just hate calling ourselves feminists – because when we do, you have to come squash our actions and say we’re doing it wrong.

I’m not upset. I know that whatever you say, someone, somewhere will be offended. If the cleric had said eating pork caused earthquakes, and I suggested Baconquake, I’d probably be getting nasty emails from vegans or PETA. If the cleric had said drinking alcohol caused earthquakes, and I suggested Beerquake, I’d probably be getting nasty emails from teetotalers. But if I lived my whole life in constant fear of pissing someone off, I would stay silent and accomplish nothing. And what good is that?

Why boobquake isn't destroying feminism

Greta Christina, a wonderful feminist writer who I respect immensely, has written a piece called A Feminist Defense of Boobquake. Greta perfectly summarizes how I feel in regards to all the women who seem to think I’m single-handedly destroying feminism. Just to give you an idea what it’s about, here’s a bit of the piece:

The main feminist objection to Boobquake seemed to be that the women who participated were letting ourselves be exploited. They argued that many men reacted to the event with sexist, “Show us your tits!” idiocy—a reaction McCreight should have foreseen, and was therefore responsible for. Even if the intention behind the event was good (a point on which anti-Boobquake feminists differ)—even though the event was initiated by a woman and voluntarily participated in by women—the result was simply another round of female bodies being objectified by men.

Ah. I see.

Women ought not to display our sexuality—because men can’t be trusted. In the presence of a display of desirable female flesh, men will lose control of themselves. Women ought to dress modestly, and ought not to encourage other women to dress immodestly… and if we persist in our immodesty, and men respond by behaving badly, it’s women’s fault.

It all makes sense now. I just need one question cleared up:

How, exactly, is this “feminist” response to Boobquake anything but a more moderate version of the statement by the Muslim prayer leader? (Minus the supernatural idiocy about earthquakes, of course.)

How is this “feminist” response anything but an attempt to squash female expressions of our sexuality, for fear of whipping men into an uncontrollable frenzy?

How is it anything other than blaming women for the fact that many men behave badly?

Hear hear.

I’m not going to spent much more time defending my feminism, mainly because I have better things to do with my time. If you want to assert that I’m not a real feminist, go ahead. I don’t care if you want to turn your allies into enemies. If you want to assert that I’m falling into the trap of “cute” feminism because I dare to joke about my body, go ahead. I may laugh a bit, since I’m one of the least stereotypically “feminine” people I know, but judge away. If you want to slut shame and think embracing my sexuality is giving women a bad image, go ahead. I know that doing so doesn’t mean I’m ditzy or brainless – I know I’m a smart cookie, regardless of what you think.

But when you’re doing all of these things, just remember: Feminism is about choice. I never forced you to wear a low cut shirt. I won’t judge you if you abstain from sex. I won’t sneer when you say you’re a stay at home mom. And likewise, you shouldn’t have disdain for my choices. Feminists always wonder where all the “young” feminists are. We’re here, but we just hate calling ourselves feminists – because when we do, you have to come squash our actions and say we’re doing it wrong.

I’m not upset. I know that whatever you say, someone, somewhere will be offended. If the cleric had said eating pork caused earthquakes, and I suggested Baconquake, I’d probably be getting nasty emails from vegans or PETA. If the cleric had said drinking alcohol caused earthquakes, and I suggested Beerquake, I’d probably be getting nasty emails from teetotalers. But if I lived my whole life in constant fear of pissing someone off, I would stay silent and accomplish nothing. And what good is that?