And the boobquake experiment has begun…

I won’t be able to make a blog post until boobquake is over, but I will be tweeting and posting photos throughout the day. Feel free to talk about your boobquake adventures in this post*!

Check back here after boobquake is over around the world (6am EST) for the results!

*No, that does not mean I need an update of every single earthquake that has happened so far. No, the Taiwan earthquake is not statistically significant – yet. If we get many of a similar magnitude in the next 24 hours, then we might start worshipping the power of immodesty.My official boobquake outfit. So horribly scandalous, I know.

Watch me on BBC, Canada AM, WGN, and CNN!

Boobquake is almost upon us, which means the media is super interested in covering the end of the world. I just thought I’d let you know what shows I’ll be appearing on in the next twenty four hours, since they’re… uh, kind of huge. And if you need more motivation to watch, yes, I’ll be showing cleavage – at least as much as is appropriate for TV.

11:10 pm WGN Radio Chicago – The Nick Digilio ShowAudio here!

In the morning in your part of the world – BBC World Service – The World Today

7:00 am Canada AMVideo here!

9:00 am WGN Morning News

5 – 7 pm CNN – The Situation Room (I swear to FSM I’m not making these things up)

I’m also being interviewed by The Young Turks tomorrow night at 9 pm, but I’m not sure when it’ll be online.

For those at the epicenter of boobquake (West Lafayette, IN), we’re going to have a meeting on campus mainly so news outlets have something to videotape (information here). I know that Fox59 Indianapolis, WRTV6 Indianapolis, CBC TV, and WLFI Channel 18 will be there, and who knows who else. I also know that BBC Persia will be covering boobquake, with footage of the gathering in Washington DC and interviews with me, but I don’t know when it’ll be on. Keep an eye out for all of these things!

Boobquake t-shirts to benefit charities

Multiple people have been calling for boobquake t-shirts, so I decided to make some really simple ones. 100% of the profit goes to charity, half to the Red Cross (because of their earthquake relief) and half to JREF (for supporting critical thinking and fighting supernatural claims). Go check them out:

Who says science has to be boring?
Did the Earth move for you?
Modestly dressed women seldom make earthquakes
I survived boobquake
Hm, that last one may be a bit premature. We still may all perish in tank-top induced apocalypse.

Head of Iran’s Guardian Council supports Sedighi’s earthquake hypothesis

When I first conceived my boobquake experiment, I thought I was testing the claims of a single man who had failed to think scientifically. But now someone higher up in the Iranian government is supporting Sedighi’s hypothesis – Ahmad Jannati, “longtime head of the ultra-conservative Guardian Council, which vets all laws and political candidates for office.” The LA Times reports:

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati might have thought he was clarifying remarks by his colleague, the cleric Kazem Sedighi, who suggested in a Friday prayer sermon a week ago that women who dress immodestly cause earthquakes by angering God.

Instead Jannati, who delivered the nation’s keynote sermon in the Iranian capital this Friday, reiterated the claim that human behavior causes — and can also prevent — earthquakes.

He told worshipers on Friday that while science cannot yet predict earthquakes, they can be spiritually prevented by repentance and prayer.

“We can avoid earthquakes if the faithful and devoted people pray to God,” Jannati said during the Friday sermon.

Ah, good thing I wasn’t grossly misinterpreting anything! Though for the sake of science, I hope people who believe this keep their repentance and prayers at normal levels on Monday. I don’t want any confounding variables ruining my study. And they shouldn’t either – wouldn’t they like to know if they’re right about women’s immodesty causing earthquakes?

On a more serious note, I love how since earthquakes are unpredictable, we must therefore conclude that they’re controlled by God. We understand how they occur, but it’s difficult to predict a location. Why? Because so many variables are constantly interacting with each other, and that sheer amount of complexity is incredibly difficult to model. Maybe one day we’ll have even more scientific knowledge and computing power to do so. But just because something is complex doesn’t mean we throw in the towel and yell “God did it!”

Of course, maybe God is making the earth rumble because he hates immodestly dressed women. That’s what makes Sedighi’s claim so wonderful – it actually is scientifically verifiable. And when someone makes ludicrous claims that can be tested, we should do so. Monday night I’ll do some statistics, and then we will have a better idea. Though it seems even Jannati has his doubts:

While Jannati called for prayer as a way of preventing earthquakes, he didn’t rule out using less celestial methods. “Officials precautionary moves to make homes quake-proof are appreciated,” he said.

Does he doubt the power of modesty to prevent earthquakes? Or does he doubt that women can easily be forced against their will to dress modestly?

Obligatory disclaimer: I in no way think that all Muslims or Iranians or theists agree with these two men. For all the rational thinkers out there who happen to fall into those groups, my mockery is not directed toward you.

Live interview in an hour!

This is incredibly late notice, but I will be talking live with Barry Lynn from Americans United for Separation of Church and State at 4pm EST at his radio show Culture Shocks. I’ll be on for about 20 minutes making a fool out of myself discussing boobquake and anti-women fundamentalists. Tune in!

EDIT: Sorry about that bit of miscommunication. My interview with Barry Lynn will air on Friday the 23rd at 4:30 PM! You can still catch it by going here then.

A quick clarification about Boobquake

Holy crap.

So what started as a joke and somewhat sarcastic reply to the ludicrous notion that women’s immodesty causes earthquakes has now exploded. Seriously, internet, you scare and amaze me sometimes. The Facebook event already has almost 14,000 attendees (and 60,000 invited) in just over 24 hours. The wall is getting comments so quickly that I had to disable Facebook email notifications because my inbox was getting flooded. The twitter stream for #boobquake is updating so quickly that I can’t keep up. To top that off, I just got interviewed by the largest newspaper in Canada and some radio station in Ireland wants to interview me.

Because I made a boob joke.

Since this is probably only going to get crazier in the next couple of days, I want to make a quick clarification. This post is going to be far shorter than it should be since I am a student and I’m trying to finish homework and such, but I wanted to at least acknowledge what people are saying.

I just want to apologize if this comes off as demeaning toward women. To be honest, it started as silly joke that I hurriedly fired off since I was about to miss the beginning of House. I never thought it would get the attention it did. If I would have known, I would have spent more time being careful about my wording.

That being said, I don’t think the event is completely contrary to feminist ideals. 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.

I also hate the ideal of “big boobs are always better!” The cleavage joke was just a result of me personally having cleavage, and that being my choice of immodesty. And I thought “boobquake” just sounded funny. Really, it’s not supposed to be serious activism that is going to revolutionize women’s rights, but just a bit of fun juvenile humor. I’m a firm believer that when someone says something so stupid and hateful, serious discourse isn’t going to accomplish anything – sometimes light-hearted mockery is worthwhile.

Anyway, I’m not forcing anyone to agree with me. Maybe I am failing at Feminism 101, or maybe I’m just taking a different approach.

And to the scientists who are concerned with my methods – don’t worry, I fully plan on doing some statistics after the event. I know many earthquakes happen on a daily basis, so we’re looking to see if Boobquake significantly increases the number or severity of earthquakes. Or if an earthquake strikes West Lafayette, IN and only kills me, that may be good evidence of God’s wrath as well (I’m not too concerned). And yes, I know I need a larger sample size to make this good science. Maybe I’ll include Mardi gras in my calculations.

In the name of science, I offer my boobs

This little bit of supernatural thinking has been floating around the blogosphere today:

“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.

I have a modest proposal.

Sedighi claims that not dressing modestly causes earthquakes. If so, we should be able to test this claim scientifically. You all remember the homeopathy overdose?

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.

So, who’s with me? I may be a D cup, but that will probably only produce a slight tremor on its own. If you’ll be joining me on twitter, use the tag #boobquake! Or join the facebook event!

(Confused? Angry? Think my science is crap? Read a serious explanation of boobquake here)

How not to promote female atheists

Hey guys, remember that giant list I made of awesome female atheists? And how I talked about the importance of promoting this minority within the atheist community? Yeah, this is not the way to do it:

Dude: @jennifurret Is there going to be a bikini beauty contest in Skepchicamp?
This is the kind of sexist BS I’m talking about. Not funny RT @Dude: Is there going to be a bikini beauty contest in Skepchicamp?
Dude: @jennifurret How’s that sexist? Nothing wrong with a bikini contest. As a matter of fact, it would be a great way to promote Skepchicamp.
@Dude Because it’s a conference focusing on skepticism, intelligence, and empowering women, yet you reduced us to our boobs
Dude: @jennifurret Are you implying a bikini contest is all about boobs, no intelligence?
Uh, yes? RT @Dude: Are you implying a bikini contest is all amount boobs, no intelligence?
Dude: @jennifurret Why? I don’t think boobs and intelligence is mutually exclusive, ie we can get only one but not both.
@Dude I think you should stop while you’re ahead
Dude: @jennifurret To compete with Christianity, we need to package boobs and intelligence together as a killer product.
Me: Keep digging that hole RT @Dude: To compete with Christianity, we need to package boobs and intelligence together as a killer product.
@jennifurret You are so evil!
I am merely repeating the things you are saying. You produce the consequences RT @Dude: You are so evil!

Okay, I’ll admit I’m kind of on a short fuse about this topic at the moment. Usually the first tweet (which came out of the blue) would illicit nothing more than an eye roll, but last night I watched the PZ vs the Preacher blogtv fundraiser. I was getting pissed how whenever Ashley or ZOMGitsCriss were on screen, the chat room devolved into “Show us your tits!” and creepy sexual comments. I hate how on one hand you have men talking about how we need more outspoken female atheists, and then on the other hand you have completely socially inept sexist creepers making us want to go back into hiding. Yes, it’s the internet, and people will say things they usually wouldn’t dare say in real life – but those thoughts are still there, and that’s distasteful enough.

Good looks and intelligence are not mutually exclusive, but good looks shouldn’t matter when judging based on intelligence. Is it a coincidence that when I think of the female bloggers and YouTubers I follow, a high percentage range from moderately attractive to smoking hot? I’d love to think that someone who would be judged as “unattractive” who was also smarter and wittier would be just as successful, but that seems like the exception rather than the rule. Males don’t have to stand up to that sort of scrutiny.

Boobs should not be the marketing scheme for atheism, nor should we have to put up with subtle sexism in a movement promoting skepticism. I don’t want to ban sexual discussion or humor – hell, I’d be the last person to suggest that. However, there is a difference between me talking about my sexuality and someone yelling “Show me your titties!!!”; between posing for a sexy Skepchick calendar and having someone suggest you should have a bikini contest during a conference; between us all trading juvenile boob jokes after I initiate it and someone making an irrelevant comment about my chest whenever I post a photo.

Think of it in terms of consent.

When I’m initiating a conversation or a joke, I’m giving you permission to join in. Bringing it up out of the blue, often in a crass way, is jarring because sexuality is so private. Some women will open up more than others – but just because I open up frequently doesn’t mean it’s a free for all. Off topic boob comments, marriage proposals, and sexy costume suggestions (I wish I wasn’t making this up, folks) get old after a while, even for an avowed pervert like myself.

I don’t think that most of the time there is ill will. I do think that most guys are oblivious at how such comments can make women feel like they’re being reduced to their breasts. Especially in a community that cherishes intelligence, logic, reasoning, and wit, being judged on looks is just plain annoying.

So do me a favor guys: Think before you speak. And if your fellow man forgets this simple rule, please remind him.

Happy New Year!

My night:

  • Went to Mark’s house. It was just us and another old high school friend, since everyone else had either left for vacation in Florida or was partying it up in Chicago.
  • Beat his 8 year old brother in Mario Kart. Barely. Parents whisked him away before I could be embarrassed.
  • Ate way too much spinach and artichoke dip, yet didn’t imbibe a single drop of alcohol. Mono, I shake my fist at you. Ah well.
  • Roommate (who was in another town) texted me asking me what dead baby jokes I could remember. I love my roommate. I also love that she would turn to me for help in such an area.
  • Watched three hours of The Next Food Network Star. Developed an idea for a new show, Bobby Flay Goes Apeshit. All you have to do is use the outtakes from one of his billion shows, add some explosions and lasers shooting out of his eyes, and you have a fucking masterpiece. Seriously, were we the only people who noticed how he looks like he’s about to absolutely flip out in disappointment before the camera cuts away? I can fill in the gaps. “Capers? Where…are…the CAPERS?! ARHRFHGHG!! *rips of shirt and grills the failing contestant*”
  • Tuned into Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper right before the ball dropped in New York. Oh my god, I wish we would have tuned in sooner. I love both of them separate, but together it’s just pure genius. I’m amazed at Kathy’s sheer willpower to not swear for all of those hours, but she was still being horrendously inappropriate for the program, and watching Anderson squirm awkwardly was amazing. “I just did some blow!” “No, no she did not. *frantic look*” Or when she asked Anderson what his safe word was? Also, Anderson Cooper getting hit on by a drag queen made my year (the 45 minutes left of it at the time). And the fact that Lance Bass was randomly reporting too – Could CNN get any gayer? Win.
  • Then we tuned into to the local Chicago news for our count down. Good god, Chicagoans look like the saddest bunch of people compared to New Yorkers. New York was a huge party, Chicago was a bunch of middle aged people sitting at tables eating, listening to crappy bands, and falling asleep. Every year the highlight is watching ABC 7’s Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies announce as they get progressively tipsier and tipsier. It always ends with Mark constantly making off color jokes and vaguely hitting on Janet. I was not disappointed.
  • It turned midnight. Yay. 2010.
  • We watched the South Park movie. Mark’s parents and 8 year old brother decided to come home right when Kenny was going to heaven and seeing a bunch of boobs, and then going to hell and seeing blood and gore. Oh, and don’t forget the constant swearing. It amuses me how things can become awkward so quickly given the audience.
  • Watched the same Girls Gone Wild commercial probably 20 times. Was it really necessary to include that one commercial during every break, sometimes two times per break? Could they have at least mixed it up a little so we could see a different drunk girl’s boobs jiggling across the screen?
  • Drove home, put on pajamas, and wrote this blog post because I can’t fall asleep. …Wait, now I’m getting meta. Time to stop.

How’d you spend your New Years Eve?

Irrational reactions to clothes shopping

I hate clothes shopping. When it comes to my list of Failures at Being a Woman, this probably ranks at number one. I loathe shopping for clothes so much that I will literally put it off for a year or more, continuously coming up with new excuses not to go. Even when I’ve mustered up the strength to go to the mall, I usually only last an hour or so before giving up and leaving.

Why the hatred? To me it’s just one big trip into poor body image land. Even when I was younger I hated it. I was 5’9″ at age 11, and let me tell you, no pants fit freakishly tall girls. Even “long” juniors pants were too short, and grown-up jeans looked like clown pants on my hips since I hadn’t filled out yet – a 11 year old girl look more like a ruler than an hour glass. Thankfully I’ve since developed a womanly figure, and finding pants isn’t such a problem.

But if it’s not one thing, it’s another: now I have boobs. I know, I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right? But finding clothes as a D cup is a pain the ass. One, it happened fairly suddenly so I had to get a new wardrobe – five years as a B, then wham! D cup. Old shirts don’t fit, at least not comfortably. And you’d think in a country where the average cup size is a C that I wouldn’t have such issues, but I feel like Goldilocks. Mediums are too small, with it fitting around my abdomen but my boobs feeling like they’re going to explode out ala Superman or the Hulk (or literally doing so if it’s a button up shirt)*. Larges fit my chest, but are like a tent around the rest of my body. Is it so much to ask for clothing for curvy girls? You’d think that in a society which is obsessed with big boobs, we’d give them a little more respect.

Even though these seem like fairly practical gripes, I’ll admit most of my aversion is irrational. Not being able to find clothes that fit makes me feel inadequate. I can look in the mirror and feel attractive, I can have others tell me I’m attractive**, but the moment I’m in that changing room, society’s opinion is weighing in. I know it’s stupid to care about the standards of the fashion industry or just society in general, but it’s hard when you’re immersed in it. I’m below the average weight and pant size of an American woman, yet if you use models and actresses (women we constantly see) as a standard I look like a freaking elephant.

The worst part is that if something seems fashionable, trendy, or cute, I feel like I’m not allowed to wear it. I feel self conscious wearing nice things because it seems totally out of character for me, like I’m only supposed to wear boring things that will just make me blend into the background. I’m not sure if I can even explain the feeling other than “You’re not one of those pretty girly girls, so just throw on a t shirt and jeans.” The idea of getting dolled up for a night out – doing something other than just brushing my hair, putting on any makeup, donning a cute little dress – is just absolutely alien to me. I’m not judging women who do do that – I just feel like I missed out on the Woman Card that gave me clearance to do such things.

Are there others who feel this way, or am unique in my insanity? I hate being so irrational about my appearance mainly because I know it’s irrational. That’s the hard part about being a skeptic. It’s one thing to believe stupid things, but it really stings to know you’re being stupid.

*And the fanboys chant, “Go with the mediums!”
**The point of this post is not to get pity compliments. Please do not regale me with “Well I think you’re hot”s to make me feel better. Just pondering this line of thinking.