Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Boobquake Didn't Rock the Earth

There was an interesting reaction in The Australian to Monday's Boobquake (click here for results and analysis!). 

The Australian chose to publish a response made by Beth Mann, a blogger for
"I appreciate McCreight's intentions behind this; she meant it as a feminist response to a ridiculous statement. Unfortunately, it seems to be turning into something else, with many men chiming in, with their "show us your tits" camera-ready attitude.  Women on parade again...sigh."
            Good Golly.  And the earth itself shall shudder in outrage at our Original Sin! (Breaking in a little cross-cultural Judeo-Christian moralizing there. Just like Ms Mann.)

Mann's criticism continues:
"Women should be able to wear what they want.  That’s a given. Women should be able to sexually express themselves how they see fit.  Of course.  And underneath it all, I guess that was Boobquake’s intention.  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."
            Does anyone else find this depressing?  It would appear that Beth Mann - and the Australian's editorial staff agree with the good Cleric in Tehran.   Our female bodies DO absolve the male gender of their responsibility for public decency and basic good manners.
            These reactions makes McCreight's point for her.  In both the Muslim and her own Judeo-Christian tradition, the male body is normal and the female body is understood and interpreted as a sexualized deviation from the norm.  It's very VERY rare that this deviation is regarded in any sort of genuinely favorable light.  (damning with faint praise or exclusivity doesn't count.)  Humans of all gender flavors internalize the cultural values they're born to, and most women cannot comprehend a display of their own bodies (to any degree of risque-itude) without contextualizing it as public shame or hyper-sexual display. 
            No wonder women equate public visibility with prurient nudity.  Many of us are born with the Physical being the Primary - and often the Absolute - aspect of our identities.  And no wonder that, as women struggle to validate themselves within these cultures, they tend to focus on the physical - either in an embrace or in emphatic disavowal.
            McCreight did not ask for a "Wild Assless Chaps for Natural Disasters" March.  She didn’t even ask for a Tasteful Naked Vigil, with candlelight and Emotional Stories of Discrimination Endured and sonorous uplifting choruses of We Shall Overcome. 
            Rather, she has invited us to laugh at Sedighi's prurience. To tip back our heads and roar with laughter at his cruel, bigoted and rather brainless dismissal of half his congregation.  The responses she has received, from both observers and participants, seem to indicate that we need to do a hell of a lot more of it.
            Of course, all this hoo-ha, both the original offense and all of the inspired responses, completely miss a more holistic scientific view of the situation. There are an awful lot of contemporary cultures in this world where female nudity - at least topless nudity, but occasionally the whole corpus - is seen as value-neutral - or had been seen  as value-neutral until Abrahamic missionaries waded in and pointed out their error. 
            We need to be looking at historical geomorphological plats.  Has the earth rested more peacefully since heathen female bodies were revealed as shameful in the sight of foreign gods?
            There's a survey I'd like to see.
            (Obviously, such plats only need to extend back as far as the Judeo Christian Fall or the Revalation of the Koran to the prophet. Extend the search back six thousand years, max. Or to 610 (Christian Era), if we're only interested in refuting Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi.)

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