Boobquake: One Step Forward in Overcoming Shame

May 1, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Shame | 1 Comment
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Okay, so it’s a new month, and therefore, I should try to update a bit.

So last Monday, a bunch of us on the Internets celebrated the much-renowned “Boobquake.” I wore a somewhat low-cut shirt to celebrate myself, but I had work all day, so the low-cut-ness had to be curbed a bit compared to what it would be had I not been in my office all day.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? How about checking it out, as well as some responses:

Original Post/ProposalFacebook EventA Clarification on BoobquakeThe Results Are InA Feminist Defense of Boobquake – Why Boobquake Isn’t Destroying Feminism

Now that I’ve given you a not-so-small novel to read (and that’s not even all I’d recommend reading on it, but I figured I’d get on with my rant), let me put this out there: I fully support the Boobquake event.

I agree with all of the feminist reasoning behind the event; feminism is about choice, and therefore, we ought to have the freedom to choose whether we show off our tits or cover ’em up, and regardless of our choice, we have the right not to encounter sexism, objectification, anger, suppression, oppression….

Or shame.

From a queer perspective, Boobquake is fantastic. As a community, LGBTQ people have been battling with shame for as long as our communal memory can remember. From Oscar Wilde with the “open secret” (i.e. those who knew to look for homosexuality in his works saw it, but those who didn’t know wouldn’t see it, and no one talked about it because then they’d be admitting to being “in on the secret,” and no “good” person even considered homosexuality in the world, so you don’t talk about it lest you be accused of sodomy) to transpeople who get arrested while using the restroom to young lesbians told they can’t go to prom in a tux because that’s a boy thing to do, shame has been a big part of the queer experience.  Shame regarding our orientations, our gender identities, our masculine or feminine external styling, our lifestyles, our proclivities, our politics, our relationships, our families… and our bodies.

As a person in Western culture, I have been taught to be ashamed of my body. Especially as a woman in American culture, I have been commanded to be ashamed of my body. I’m too short, I’m too fat, I’m too curvy, I’m too pale, I’m too freckle-y, I’m too imperfect.

And if I’m the only one who’d been made to feel this way, I’ll eat the wire plugged into my laptop.

Many of us respond to this shaming by shrinking away, trying to fit in to what would be less shameful: trying to lose or gain weight, wearing push-up or minimizing bras, getting plastic surgery, wearing makeup, or if we can’t make our bodies better, we cover them up with clothing.

You know what I say to that?

Fuck. That.

I’m not going to let them shame me about my body, and neither should you. Those so-called “feminists” who oppose Boobquake on the “men are pigs, and you’re just feeding the wolf-whistling machine” reasoning don’t get it. Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, the prayer leader in Iran who said,

Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes

What was he doing with that statement? Not only saying something hilarious for us to make fun of online (Increases earthquakes? I mean, really?), but he was shaming women who are comfortable showing their bodies in public. He was shaming women for having body parts which men find attractive. He was also shaming men who are attracted to women’s bodies.

These men and women who call themselves “feminists” and yet believe that Boobquake is a backwards step for feminism–they’re doing the exact same thing. They’re shaming women who want to show off their assets. They’re shaming those of us who appreciate the aesthetic value of boobs. They’re shaming boobs themselves.

Let’s get this straight: Boobs are awesome.

You know what’s not awesome?

Here’s what’s not awesome: Shame. A one-size-fits-all view for how women should show their bodies. Urging suppression of choice. Treating women as objects which happen to carry some tits on them. Treating men as animals who can’t control their actions when faced with the sight of some cleavage.

And I’ll say it again: Shame. Shame is not awesome. In fact, it’s quite the opposite of awesome. It does no one any good any any level. Those who are ashamed of their bodies are more likely to harm them. (Whether by crash-dieting which causes more harm than good, by binge-eating comfort foods, by going under the knife unnecessarily only to wake up from the anesthesia to realize the lipo didn’t suck away their self-doubt, by self-injury, by committing suicide… the list goes on.) People who are proud of and comfortable in their bodies are more likely to live healthy lifestyles. In my own struggle to lose weight, the pounds only started slipping away after I became comfortable in the skin I was in; when I was ashamed of my body, I’d “cheat” on my diet more and more and only ended up gaining weight. However, as soon as I started loving myself and realizing that I can feel beautiful even 40 pounds overweight, hey! Look at that! Six weeks later, I’m down 10 pounds. I loved myself, and instead of reaching for the chocolate to make myself feel better for a minute only to have that feeling slip away as soon as I swallowed, I wanted to eat a salad and take the long way to work so I could walk more. Instead of beating myself up because I didn’t look like the magazines told me I should look like, I gave myself a hug and a smile and a little bit of self-love which, in turn, made me healthier.

Telling me to hide my tits because oh noes, the big bad men could enjoy the sight and do something awful (*Gasp!*)… that’s only going to harm me. Don’t tell me to hide my body. Tell those who objectify women to get their heads out of their asses and treat women like human beings rather than walking pairs of tits. Tell whose who refuse to accept transpeople to wake up and enter the 21st century, where we recognize a person’s right to dress and identify however he/she/ze wants. Tell those who can’t get past the need to shame others for their bodies to grow up, because we’re not on the kindergarten playground anymore. Though even on the kindergarten playground, my teacher would have put me in time-out if I’d made fun of someone for dressing a certain way.

Don’t want to see my tits? Don’t look at them. If you do, I’m not ashamed of them, and here they are.

I'm not ashamed of my cleavage. And no Muslim cleric or anti-feminist blog-commenter will change that.

The queer community has a long way to go before we overcome the centuries of shame placed upon us. But light-hearted events which poke fun at those who put that shame on us can only help. And that, my friends, is why I support Boobquake.

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  1. In my opinion, the problem with feminism, like many modern movements, is that the loudest voices in the community are the most extremist. About a year ago I got into an argument on a feminism board and after a few heated posts, someone mocked me by saying “Oh, I’m Derek, it’s all about me and my penis” at which point I bowed out. I read some of the resources they suggested and it basically amounted to “Agree with us, repeat back to us what we want to hear, or you’re not welcome”. If your goal is to promote equality for women, which is what it should be, then how do you expect to draw in others to your cause if you only accept people who say and think exactly what you do? Why is it so threatening, so damaging to have someone come in with a slightly different opinion, as long as that opinion is not “women are inferior” or something similar?

    I was not aware of the boobquake event or the reasons for it, so I’m glad you posted this so I could be made aware. It’s like the Westboro Baptist Church (whose website is… they claim that anything bad that happens is because of gay people. Soldiers dying in Iraq? It’s because of the fags. A mine collapses and people die? Must be because of the fags. It sickens me. Religion should NEVER be used as a club.

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