Friday, August 01, 2014


Persian Letters

From 'Boobquake' to 'Brainquake'

A chance to stand up for women's rights -- without removing the veil.
A chance to stand up for women's rights -- without removing the veil.
A new campaign, titled "Brainquake," has been launched on Facebook, calling on women to show off their résumés, CVs, honors, prizes, and accomplishments. The goal is to get conservative Iranian leaders quaking with fear at "women's abilities to push for change and to thrive despite gender apartheid."

The campaign is a reaction to "Boobquake," an initiative by a U.S. student, Jen McCreight, calling on women to test the claim by Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi that women who dress immodestly promote adultery and thus increase the risk of earthquakes.

The creators of "Brainquake" say on their Facebook page that they're saddened that the creator of "Boobquake" and thousands of other women have responded to Sedighi's claim by resolving to show some cleavage on April 26.

"Everyday women and young girls are forced to 'show off cleavage' and more in order simply to be heard, to be seen, or to advance professionally. The web is already filled with images of naked women; the porn industry thrives online and many young girls are already vulnerable to predatory abuse. Violence against women and girls has a direct correlation to the sexualisation of women and girls. The extent of their sexualisation is evident in the hundreds of replies that pour into the 'Boobquake' Facebook page where women write, apologetically: 'I don’t have boobs, not fair' or 'Hey, I only have a C cup...' and 'What about those of us who no longer have cleavage? They sag too low.'"
 
"Brainquake's" creators say Sedighi's comment was no news to Iranian women, nor was it funny. They note that for the past 30 years, the Islamic Republic has violated women's rights with what they describe as repressive policies.

"Iranian women have fought back in various ways, one of which has been to dress 'subversively,' but as is evident in the Green Movement, it is not their 'beauty' or bodies that they have utilized in fighting against a brutal theocracy but their brains, their creativity, art, writings, etc."

Iranian women make up more than 60 percent of university entrants. Women were at the forefront of the protests against the disputed reelection of Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. And a number of women's rights activists were detained and sentenced to prison in the postelection crackdown, including Shiva Nazar Ahari and student leader Bahareh Hedayat, who both remain in jail.

Both "Boobquake" and "Brainquake" are taking place on Monday, April 26.

--Golnaz Esfandiari

Tags: activism,rights,women,Internet

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by: Terilynn from: New Mexico
April 25, 2010 18:59
Unfortunately, the point of Boobquake seems to have been misconstrued by those who have created Brainquake - both are very noble causes.

Boobquake is being celebrated not so women can "show off breasts" but merely to point out the lack of scientific education that leads to such misbegotten ideals as touted by the Iranian cleric.

Both of these event can be celebrated and should be - women ARE both forced to show cleavage when they don't want to AND are forced to cover up their bodies when they don't want to.

Women should have the right to do either - without fear of reprisal from anyone.
In Response

by: qwerty from: San Francisco
April 26, 2010 21:37
Well since the cleric said it was sin caused by women's immodesty that causes earthquakes, I fail to see what breasts and cleavage specifically have to do with it. The average U.S. woman doesn't have to go out of her way to defy the standards of modesty held by an Iranian Muslim cleric. An Amish woman would probably be immodest according to this guy.

And has anybody bothered to ask Iranian women what they think?

by: Sohan
April 25, 2010 21:16
I have no problem with Brainquake as a concept, but the cleric said that "immodest dress," not education, cause earthquakes. Hence, Boobquake cannot be classified as a wanton exploitation of female bodies for unrelated or tenuously-related causes (like, say, every other PETA ad). Here we have this ominous hand-wringing against the "sexualization' of some young women, but when far more women are repressed and prevented from expressing their sexuality in healthy, independent, dignified ways (like Jen) by the ayatollahs or their local equivalents, how many give as much of a hoot?

by: JL from: Utah
April 26, 2010 18:01
Do we really need to bare our breasts in order to "prove" that this cleric's science is off? This is ridiculous.

by: TV from: United States
April 26, 2010 20:29
But that's the thing--you DON'T have to! These two events should go hand in hand, not foster some false rivalry between each other. They represent two aspects of the awesomeness of women, and two arenas in which women are controlled--sex and brains. The responses to this are sad evidence that even people who mean well, are still uncomfortable with the idea of women choosing for themselves.

It's true that women are pressured to show their bodies when they don't want to--but they're also pressured, by others and by circumstance, to hide the power of their sexuality, or only to show/use it when it benefits *someone else*. Choosing when to show your body is as much a right as choosing not to--and nobody is pressured to join the Boobquake event. If they WANT to, they shouldn't be shamed or reprimanded by feminists or other well-meaning people, any more than they should be reprimanded by clerics. Women should be able to say "yes" without punishment, too--even punishment by *other women* who disapprove.

As for the "boobs not good enough" Facebook comments--that's another can of worms entirely. That we teach women that they have to have a certain kind of body in order to be worthy of sharing it. The last thing we should do is pile on that shame by implying it's wrong to even *want* to show off.

Have a blessed day...

by: Shannon from: USA
April 26, 2010 21:40
Dear JL - of course it's ridiculous - that's exactly the point. Terilynn from New Mexico got it right. Showing a bit of cleavage, or turning an ankle, is not the cause of earthquakes or any other natural disaster. What's ridiculous is that certain clrics have zero scientific understanding, and/or play on their followers' scientific ignorance. I hadn't heard of "Brainquake," which sounds like it's making a good point about women's brains and accomplishments. However, that's not the real problem. Blaming evil on women's alleged misbehavior is convenient, common, but wrong.

There are still a few hours left in the day for God's wrath to rain down on Indiana, the epicenter of today's Boobquake. Conveniently, the New Madrid fault is nearby. If disaster is to be wrought, there are few better places for the demonstration to be made. We'll have to see what happens, but I am not exactly quaking in fear.

The area of modern-day Iran and Iraq were, at one time, the centers of civilization and learning. I have great hope that some day they will come back into the fold.

by: Kamyar from: USA
April 27, 2010 14:42
Unfortunately, this is where it's easy to miss the point. "Brainquake" and "Boobquake" should be working together to expose the many forms of Femicide and Female oppression. This false rivalry doesn't make any sense at all. To me, the point of all this comes from a basic form of freedom of expression. It seems that no matter where you are, someone is trying to take away the freedom to choose, whether it's here in the US (anti-choice groups) or Iran (clerics). We see that although women have made great gains in female emancipation, there is a long, long way to go.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org

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