April 22nd, 2010
05:31 PM ET

Blogger: Show cleavage to test cleric’s quake theory

It started as a college student’s snide response to an Iranian cleric’s assertion that scantily clad women cause earthquakes.

But as of Thursday, it had become much, much bigger.

Jen McCreight, a self-described atheist, feminist and geek “trapped in Indiana,” took issue with Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi’s message during Friday prayers in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

The hard-line cleric, who was standing in for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, said women who dress provocatively – thereby tempting men – are to blame for the world’s temblors.

Read cleric story

“When promiscuity spreads, earthquakes increase,” he said. “There is no way other than taking refuge in religion and adapting ourselves to Islamic behavior.”

McCreight, who is pursuing a double major in genetics and evolution, took to her blog, Blag Hag, on Monday, demanding that the world’s women band together in a scientific experiment to test the merits of Sadeghi’s hypothesis.

“Time for a Boobquake,” she wrote. “On Monday, April 26, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. ... 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.”

She continued, “With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I'm sure [Sadeghi] can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn’t rumble.”

Boobquake’s Twitter account quickly snared more tweets than a bird sanctuary, and its Facebook page had almost 50,000 “confirmed guests” as of Thursday afternoon.

“Nice to know that WOMEN are SO powerful that they can make men AND nature quake with a flash of her breasts! LOL!” wrote one visitor to the Boobquake Facebook page.

McCreight’s idea garnered so much attention, including criticism from people who feared she was making light of natural disasters, the Purdue University senior returned to her blog Wednesday to offer a “quick clarification.”

She acknowledged the widespread attention Boobquake had drawn and said a Canadian newspaper and an Irish radio station had requested interviews with her.

“Because I made a boob joke,” she wrote. “I just want to apologize if this comes off as demeaning toward women. To be honest, it started as a 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.”

She didn’t back off, however, and said she was asking women to don immodest outfits on the same day “for the sake of the experiment.” To allay concerns of unnamed scientists, she promised to collect statistics on the frequency and severity of earthquakes that day.

“And yes, I know I need a larger sample size to make this good science. Maybe I'll include Mardi Gras in my calculations,” she wrote.

She said no woman should feel pressured to participate.

“It’s not supposed to be serious activism that is going to revolutionize women’s rights, but just a bit of fun juvenile humor,” she wrote. “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.”

Back on Boobquake’s Facebook page, McCreight took a moment to be serious and encouraged followers to consider donating money to the American Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts or to the AHA Foundation, an organization that strives to “defend the rights of women in the West against militant Islam.”

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Filed under: Earthquake • Facebook • World
soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. Kia Wee

    It's hilarious to see a couple religious people come here and defend what is clearly an indefensible statement by the cleric. Metaphor my foot. Disgusting apologetics.

    April 23, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. George

    All the good comments have been made so I'll just say, You folks have said a mouthful..

    April 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Neisan

    I am sorry that we do not have geology Noble prize, or if we have this clergy would win it because of finding such a prominent answer. Lol

    April 23, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. trixie

    What a sad example of an "intelligent" woman. She should be ashamed of herself. As far as the other women that are cheering her on, no shortage of womean that will take their clothes off at the slightest invitation. She is more dangerous than the Iranian guy because she has no belief in a higher power. She also very clearly lacks a moral compass. Scary

    And as far as one blogger saying "God bless her". Not likely. She is denying him, he will deny her.

    April 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kmm

    Personally, I think this is absolutely ridiculous. I am also college educated, about to start a Master's in Psychology, and this "fun juvenile humor" is what is coming out of some of our best universities? Atheist or religious, at least have some decency. Sadeghi was likely being metaphoric, referencing the massive destruction of societies as being at least partly due to the moral deterioration of human society in general. In other words, God (or Allah, in Islam) sending messages to us telling us to clean our act up. No, public indecency is NOT the only problem facing our society, but what message do you think something like this sends to the already hyper-sexualized young teenagers? Baring yourselves "for the sake of science" is definitely not the solution. How about the old solution that is apparently not being taught anymore: "ignore it". As a woman and a feminist, Ms Jen, I am surprised that you are at least a little appalled at the type of attention your "experiment" is attracting, especially from men. I sincerely hope you will give a second thought to how far you want to go to prove a point that in hindsight, honestly, will not change a thing.

    April 23, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matti

    "It's hilarious to see a couple religious people come here and defend what is clearly an indefensible statement by the cleric."

    Everything's hilarious "until someone loses an eye". Which is what tends to happen when you let iron-age mythology run rampant :/

    April 23, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sharon

    In the name of scientific investigation, I will participate.

    April 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Habeeb Farooqui

    I am surprised to see what has become of our mentality. Some times I feel that we the so called civilized people are no different than the peoples at Noah's time or lot's time. Those peoples were also making fun and redecule any one who tried to stop them. The nudity and promiscuity on the streets and in our TV shows are destroying our family structures, family life is getting tumbling down is it any less way than having an earthquake. If you see the picture/paintings of Mary the mother of Jesus, we see her all covered and with a head scarf. Any one can see her with great respect no matter what religeon you belong to.
    Why the banner of modesty has to be carried by some muslim women it is in every religeon. the brother above is absolutely right, look at the way our young children are dressing up even to go to school, a place of learning good things. This is taking us no where but towards our own distruction. We don't have to wait for an earthquake and it is already here in our homes and in our neighborhoods. We may be living in beautiful homes and driving expensive cars but inside we have become so hollow. God help us.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michelle

    For all of you religious nuts who seem so scandalized by this woman's light-hearted humor... get over yourselves. She does not want, nor does she need, the blessings of your imaginary friend or Sky Daddy. It's shameful that in this century, people are still adhering to MYTHS.

    Do you modern-day monotheists (Christians, Muslims, and Jews) understand that your God(s) are no different than the pagan Gods of any other tribes and cultures? The ONLY difference is that those tribes were violent and brutal enough to massacre, overrun, and assimilate other cultures to force their myths on other populations. Your Jehovah, Allah, and Yahweh just happened to be the preferred God(s) of the tribes that were violent enough to win. And since then, it's just been political jockeying for centuries, using God to control the masses.

    Seriously, when does the stupidity end? We've got the technology to see into the heart of an atom, and study stars created at the beginning of our galaxy. We can communicate instantly with people on the other side of the planet, and launch a human being into the vacuum of space. Can we get over this archaic bickering?

    And in the meantime, I'd like to also encourage supportive young men to get in on this experiment. For those guys here who are "man enough," I scientifically dare you to add to this festive mock-experiment by dressing in the finest drag you can find. High heels, skirts, stockings... go for it! It'll be fun! I believe some of these religions also prohibit men from wearing women's clothes, so this should just make the experiment more efficacious.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Carol Mannarino

    Geesh! Some people have no sense of humor. Well, they say a sense of humor is related to intelligence. In that case, MOST of the people responding are quite intelligent!

    Jen is striking a blow against narrow minded religious zealots. I guess you can't expect them to see any humor when their cherished beliefs are held to the test of reason!

    April 23, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Irving T

    OH, MICHELLE! Trust me, in that you DO NOT want to see me in a dress! I might actually impede the earthquake, spoiling the whole experiment. Besides, I dont have A THING to wear!

    April 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sam

    Everyone is missing the point! The Ayatollah is not speaking of scantily clad women. He is speaking of women who don't have a scarf on their head, long sleeves, and pants down to their ankles–even during the heat of summer. And he of course places no blame of immorality on men–if a woman shows a bit of her forearm, a man has no choice but to rape her, right? Note that Iran has an average of at least one minor earthquake per week, despite its dress code. If earthquakes are God's wrath, than I'd wager he's punishing the country for the prostitution and corruption, and violence committed by its political/religious leaders. Iran is a country run by thugs in turbans.

    April 24, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. me

    What you all are being so amused by, is an annoying fact of our everyday life, living in the Islamic Republic. Freedom is not a defined fact eveywhere, in some parts of the world you have to die for it.

    April 24, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. anita

    For repressed prudes, *any* form of sexual expression is immoral to them... There is a way to do it with some class and with healthiness & respect in mind. I, for one, am planning a very tasteful yet sexy outfit for Monday... not sure how to "spread" promiscuity, though... I have a cheese knife, will that do?

    April 24, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MEB

    "Boobquake" sounds like a really clever gimmick. However, as a professional woman who has had to work hard to have her ideas valued in her career and not be reduced to a "honey" or "toots" or "baby", I don't see how revealing cleavage will prove any point. There are earthquakes every day across the world, usually weak ones. There are also idiot bigots in power across the the world. I personally do not want to debase myself to prove some point to some troglodyte, i.e., I'm not throwing my pearls before swine.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
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