Boobquake and Prohibition

Update: This blog post is strictly about the relationship between straight men and women; also, as noted in one of the comments, not all men ogle at women. This post relies on the stereotype that all men do. It’s an untruth, no doubt, for which I explain reality isn’t so simple.

Jen McCreight is the woman behind the Boobquake phenomenon that caused no earthquakes in Iran but shook up the feminist world more than the participants shook their cleavage. Apparently several feminists (see here and here) were appalled at the idea of women using their bodies as if they existed—because, you know, if people hide their breasts, they really aren’t there. How existential.

McCreight got some defense from other feminists with a little bit more insight into the internal feminist dialogue. She quoted Greta Christina’s “A Feminist Defense of Earthquake”:

The main feminist objection to Boobquake seemed to be that the women who participated were letting ourselves be exploited. They argued that many men reacted to the event with sexist, "Show us your tits!" idiocy—a reaction McCreight should have foreseen, and was therefore responsible for. Even if the intention behind the event was good (a point on which anti-Boobquake feminists differ)—even though the event was initiated by a woman and voluntarily participated in by women—the result was simply another round of female bodies being objectified by men.

Ah. I see.

Women ought not to display our sexuality—because men can’t be trusted. In the presence of a display of desirable female flesh, men will lose control of themselves. Women ought to dress modestly, and ought not to encourage other women to dress immodestly… and if we persist in our immodesty, and men respond by behaving badly, it’s women’s fault.

It all makes sense now. I just need one question cleared up:

How, exactly, is this "feminist" response to Boobquake anything but a more moderate version of the statement by the Muslim prayer leader? (Minus the supernatural idiocy about earthquakes, of course.)

How is this "feminist" response anything but an attempt to squash female expressions of our sexuality, for fear of whipping men into an uncontrollable frenzy?

How is it anything other than blaming women for the fact that many men behave badly?

This is almost a ha-ha! moment if it wasn’t for the fact it shouldn’t be. It’s true that the typical male response would be “Oh boy, boobs!”—and it certainly was mine. The fact of the matter is that it wasn’t simply that simple. I agreed completely with McCreight’s assertion and counter-claim against this religiously-inspired puritanical idiocy. As much as I appreciate the feminine figure as an object, I also recognize this male reaction to the feminine figure in the biological sense. The feminists who rail against McCreight’s Boobquake fall into a common logical fallacy: false dichotomy.

They seem to believe that because men drool at boobs, they must see women as nothing more than sexual objects. The false dichotomy comes in where they forget (probably assuming men have nothing but tits on their minds 24/7 (which is kind of true, except for when we’re thinking of women’s asses)) men can appreciate the feminine form while also appreciating women for who they are intellectually. There is no one or the other, black or white, Fox News or reality, Ayn Rand or logic. I love my wife and her body; I appreciate her feminine form: her overall figure, her proportions, her breasts, ass, legs, face, eyes, hair, feet and everything in-between—including what’s in her head. My love for her boobs does not keep me from loving every other aspect of who she is. As a matter of fact, I love her completely—boobs and all.

I repeat that I love her, boobs and all, because that is who she is. She’s a human being: a mind inside a physical body. To ignore that body is to ignore the rest of her. If it is the case there is a soul in everyone, that is fine; to ignore that the soul is subject to the physical limitations of our bodies, including our that of our brains, is folly. We are all caged inside this animal, soul or not, and our brains are the center of our consciousness and thought. If I am to appreciate a woman, I will appreciate her for her mind. That, by itself, has potential of being the most erogenous part of the female form—yes, I said it: even hotter than boobs (God help me!). The problem with the anti-Boobquake feminists is they forget that the mind is as much a part of the body as the breast.

The anti-Boobquake feminists have it wrong. You do not fight something you disagree with by hiding it. Prohibition of alcohol and drugs showed us that people who want something will find a way to get it. Prohibition didn’t reduce alcoholism or drug abuse; if anything, because of the unregulated black market, it simply made the problem worse. Prohibition, whether it’s alcohol, drugs or breasts, does not reduce incidence of usage (or ogling), it simply makes people turn to the dark alleys to get a hit. I’m not saying that prohibition of cleavage would lead to a new, underground ring of boob flashers in dark alleys, peddling their wares (though I don’t doubt it’s possible); what I’m saying is that no amount of prohibition is going to change the way people act, except counter to the intent of prohibition.

The repeal of prohibition is a radical proposal only in the sense that it goes to the root of the matter. The "matter" in this case is some combination of the failure of prohibition to address the problems of
drug use and the negative results that prohibitions create (Thornton, 1991).

The lesson that prohibition teaches us is that the government cannot prohibit availability of the things people want without expecting consequences. When the market demands something, if the market doesn’t supply it, another market will open up to fill that need. Prohibition of alcohol led to smuggling and dangerous, black market goods; prohibition of marijuana has led to smuggling and dangerous, black market goods; the prohibition of prostitution has led to a dangerous, black market for sex; the prohibition of the feminine form would have as many costs—one, in particular, would be women wouldn’t know who the perverts are. I would posit that a more puritanical fashion custom would lead to a rise in prostitution—which, being illegal, would be as dirty as possible.

There are ways to reform society and change custom but the anti-Boobquake feminists are fighting a very strong contender: biology. The fact of the matter is that we are still glorified, bloody apes. We’re still subject to the most powerful tool of argumentation and persuasion: visual aids. Anyone who studies persuasion will tell you how important visual aids are to a speech or presentation; without them, we just don’t grasp enough of the spoken or written information. Our capacity for iconic (visual) memory is higher than echoic memory (Ciccarelli & White, 2009); “Indeed, studies show that we remember only about 30 percent of what we hear, but more than 60 percent of what we see and hear (O’Hair & Rubeinstein &Stewart, 2007).

This is because, regardless of h

ow intelligent we may be, we are still a very visual species. Both men and women, despite popular contention, are still bound to the visual relationship between men and women. “Both men and women can get physically turned on by the hot graphics you find in porn films, for instance, but women tend not to report feeling aroused by explicit images unless their emotions are also engaged (Krista, 2008).”

In conclusion, slapping cotton on top of a pair of breasts is an assault against both reason and the rights of women to do as they wish with their bodies. Not only is Christina’s logic infallible and McCreight’s intentions sound, economics, biology and psychology back up the need to let the puppies free.

Ciccarelli, S. K., White, N. J. (2009). Psychology (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Krista (2008). The Gardener of Desire. Message posted to

O’Hair, D., Rubenstein, H., Stewart, R. (2007). A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Thornton, M. (1991). The Economics of Prohibition. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press.


4 thoughts on “Boobquake and Prohibition

  1. The initial goal of Feminism was to achieve freedom and equality between men and women. What it has turned into is a Man-Hater's society of oppression. While studying at university I was assailed for even suggesting the “dual human nature theory” (I said that men and women think and act differently). I walked out of a 200+ student lecture hall saying clearly that I wasn't appologising for having a penis. Neo-Feminism is in many ways worse than those Islamic clerics or medieval Christianity because it's insidious. Having wormed its way into every level of society with a platform of common sense, equality and humanist rhetoric it's name need only be invoked for anything to be justified.I thought that I was a feminist. My mother went to work every day. I grew up in a sub-culture of equality and understanding one's self and how we relate to the world. That includes acknowledging our sexuality. In Ontario it is the law that any person may go topless in public because the old law was sexist. Why do these new feminists not understand that men and women ARE different beings? Even arguing biology was herasy at an Ontario university. The fact than men are flooded with testosterone combined with the psychological imprint at infancy that “all good things come from boobs” somehow is irrelevant. That we have this mechanism screaming “THE SPECIES MUST CONTINUE” is just our desire to degrade women. If an older woman is in love with an 18 yr old everyone says “go girl” and she's considered sexually liberated. Reverse the sexes and he's a pervert borderline paedophile. It's stupid and not what the feminist movement was about.Thanks for blogging on the side of reason and humanity as opposed to corrupted ideologies.

  2. I have one grumble — please use the term “some men” — many men don't give a shit about oogling women…because they are very busy oogling men.I think we would get so so so much farther in these discussions if we didn't always frame them in binary terms.People need to get out of their own brains/bodies a bit – the world is much stranger than it seems.

  3. No doubt. I agree with you, on all merits. I made an update with the caveat that the blog post is limited to the heterosexual relationship between men and women. A more accurate dialogue would have required a much more detailed piece and I was originally intending to produce only a small commentary on the primary quote, not a large feature. I do concede on these points. 🙂

  4. I was raised in what can be considered a dysfunctional household. I wasn't at all interested in the influence my stepfather would have had on me; thankfully, I had my mother to be my guild and, being the momma's boy I was, it was welcomed. I saw the strength of womanhood in her but she also ingrained in me the need to recognize the entirety of a woman, not simply her mind.I recognize the problems with feminism in the modern world and see that taking things too far can be detrimental to the movement. As a matter of fact, Christina showed exactly where older feminism needs an update—the type of feminism McCreight espouses. The same problem exists in other parts of our culture; look at the problem of unions in the US. They have had their use and they should be watchdogs for the progress they have brought about. When unions keep trying to get their way at the detriment of the whole, the union members themselves will be the ones getting hurt when the business suffers. There are definite gripes both feminists and unions have and should deal with but they should pat themselves on the back for the amazing progress and change they have made—and realize their place in the world has changed as well.

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