Can cleavage trigger a movement, as in an earthquake?
Sounds ridiculous right? But this was the message last week from Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi, an Iranian cleric. The promiscuity of women, he said, is directly related to the increase in earthquakes.
Jen McCreight -- a self-described "liberal, geeky, nerdy, scientific, perverted atheist feminist" college student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. -- decided to test his theory. And so she created "Boobquake," happening worldwide today, April 26. To spread the word, she took to her blog, Blag Hag last Monday with the message in post titled, "In the name of science, I offer my boobs."
She urges woman to embrace showing their breasts, or legs, if that's their form of immodesty. She writes, " With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake." She produced a Facebook event and urged people to use the hashtag #boobquake on Twitter.
Nearly 24 hours after the post, McCreight says she had to disable her Facebook notifications. She already had 14,000 attendees and a flood of comments to the event's wall. At last check on noon Monday, more than 54,000 people had indicated "I like this" in response to Boobquake.
Which is where the money theoretically comes in -- even if the earthquakes don't.
As Twitter and Facebook explode with followers of Boobquake, McCreight juggles her school work and manages the movement: doing press interviews with CNN and BBC and even making T-shirts for supporters saying, "Modestly dressed women seldom make earthquakes. Boobquake 2010." But McCreight's not looking for a quick buck from her idea; all the proceeds from the tees benefit charities.
That doesn't mean, however, that she won't profit. Her Zazzle store on the Blag Hag blog offers a variety of items for sale, including an atheist-versus-creationist mug (about $15) and "evolution of Christmas" postcards (8 for $6.64). Assuming that 1 in 100 people who attend Boobquake via Facebook buy something from Blag Hag worth about $10, McCreight could net more than $5,000. At the very least, she walks away with something every writer and creative finds priceless in this Internet age: a ton of publicity.
While McCreight couldn't be reached for a comment, she defines herself as feminist on her blog. But given the various definitions of the word, she takes the time to respond to critics who say this movement demeans women. She stresses that Boobquake is for the benefit of women not men.
"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," she writes. "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 ogle men did. The Facebook event, now has 194,539 guests and growing. On the Fan page for the event, created "in case of future bookquakes" fans have posted their own scantily clad photos. Male users post things like "Nice rack ;-)" and "Wonderful outfit ... perfect boobs!!"
But is it a perfect statement? Feminist blogger Beth Mann is skeptical of the event's reception, calling it the "Cutefication of Feminism."
"Unfortunately, we live in a world that sees that kind of freedom of expression as a photo opportunity or another cheap thrill. All parties must be on board and in celebration of the cause in a way that doesn't include lasciviousness, latent female hatred or sexual over-saturation. If not, then all we've got is 'Girls Gone Wild' with a cause slapped on it," writes Mann.
"Brainquake" was started to battle McCreight's message, encouraging women "to show off our resumes, CVs, honors, prizes, accomplishments (photo evidence) because the Hojatoleslam and the Islamic Republic of Iran are afraid of women's abilities to push for change."
But at least some major media players appear to be playing along with Boobquake. The Washington Post reports that before noon Monday, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake rocked Taiwan, but adds that these occur frequently and are of minor significance.
McCreight says she will blog about the official results of the experiment when Boobquake is over, "and will be tweeting and posting photos throughout the day." Boobquake lasts until 11:55 p.m. EST, for those who plan to have their seismographs handy.