Why did Boobquake Go Viral?

A week ago, Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi explained why a predicted earthquake would soon hit his country:

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

If some random person said it, we wouldn’t care. But this was a man with an important title. And some people might actually believe his bullshit theory.

Jen McCreight (rhymes with “kite”) posted a quick, random response to this:

Time for a Boobquake.

On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. 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. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I’m sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn’t rumble. And if we really get through to him, maybe it’ll be one involving plate tectonics.

There was a Facebook page created for it, too.

In the past few days, Jen has been interviewed all over the world. On Monday, unless some breaking news hits, she’ll be appearing on FOX News and CNN’s “Situation Room.” That’s amazing, considering this was something she put together a few minutes before she went to go watch an episode of House.

I’ve gone through something similar — getting a lot of media attention for what was really a random thing I just happened to do one evening with relatively little thought put into it.

So why did Boobquake go viral?

I think I can offer a number of reasons, many of which parallel my own experiences:

  1. It has a memorable name

    It’s easy to remember “Boobquake.” It’s easy to Tweet #Boobquake. And it’s just fun to say. (Just like “eBay atheist” and “selling my soul on eBay.”) If this had some long, drawn-out description, I think it would’ve stopped at her blog. The title helps.

  2. The timeline is perfect

    Jen posted about Boobquake on Monday, April 19th. And she planned for the actual “event” to take place a week from that date. If she had it take place a couple days after her initial posting, it couldn’t have generated enough support to get real attention. If it were to take place in a month, people wouldn’t be talking about it at the rate they are right now.

    A week was enough time to get people excited, able to spread the word, and get the attention of the media (which sometimes needs a day or two to write an article or set up an interview).

    When I did my eBay auction, the auction lasted a week as well. Most of the media came in the last few days. There was anticipation for how it would end and I doubt that could’ve lasted for more than that long.

  3. It’s a clever way to handle a serious subject

    People are very cautious about how to approach serious subjects like religion. They’re even more cautious when they deal with Islam. Case in point: South Park.

    But this rebuttal to an Islamic leader was smart and witty. It doesn’t sound like it’s anti-Islam, but in its own way, it’s taking on the oppressive environment to women that Islam fosters.

    I think that’s also why people were drawn to an atheist visiting churches. It was a serious subject… but somehow, it felt less threatening than other attempts at linking those two worlds. People felt more comfortable talking about it or participating in the discussions surrounding it.

  4. It was started by a young person

    This is debatable, but I don’t think Boobquake would’ve have worked if it was started up by a woman in her 40s. Maybe not even in her 30s. The fact that it was a college student spearheading Boobquake helped make this story that much more media-friendly.

    Similarly, I think it helped that I was just out of college when the eBay stuff happened. It just wouldn’t have been as captivating if it was a 50-year-old Christian pastor buying “the soul” of a 50-year-old atheist.

  5. There was just enough room for misinformation to take hold

    The name Boobquake lends itself to curiosity. What does it mean? Is this about feminism? Is this only for women with bigger boobs? Do they actually think an earthquake will happen?

    Some of the questions are ridiculous, but they do call for a more nuanced explanation of what Boobquake really is.

    That means more interview requests for Jen.

    Ditto when someone wants to know if I’m really “selling my soul.”

  6. It’s about boobs.

    That totally gets attention.

    I got nothing to top that. Cockquake just wouldn’t have had the same appeal :)

Why else do you think Boobquake is getting so much attention?

  • PrimeNumbers

    Boobs always get attention.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Cock tsunami?

  • Brian C Posey

    Man is there anything boobies can’t do. They’re amazing. No wonder I love ‘em so much.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    I think you covered it. Especially #6.

  • Sunioc

    Jen’s always been awesome. It was just a matter of time before her awesome made her famous.

  • http://whoreofalltheearth.blogspot.com Whore of All the Earth

    I don’t know if all women feel this way, but for me, in addition to making an important statement about an important issue, this is a chance to dress sexy and not be thought less of for it, which for me = FUN! This is also my theory on why slutty Halloween costumes are popular. I think a lot of women would enjoy being more openly sexual, but fear the cultural judgment that may follow.

  • Judith Bandsma

    It also appeals to the 2 common definitions of ‘boob’…the ones that jiggle attractively and the one who spouted such nonsense.

  • http://www.gopetition.com/online/18938.html FSM_Ed

    I LIKE BOOBIES!

  • Carol

    Islam is such a misogynist organization. I think the idea of WOMEN “calling it out” made a strong impact. When we hear about all the horrible, cruel things that Islamic women suffer, all women feel the outrage. I would bet that it’s not just skeptic women who are supporting Boobquake. This is a call to everyone with breasts to show this moron what we think of him and his stupidity. Remember, women create PEOPLE, we can do anything!

  • Dekker

    I’m totally stealing the name ‘Cockquake’ for when I decide to start up my next death-metal band.

  • Angie

    Does the Boobquake event also welcome a showing of male cleavage? There are plenty of plump men out there with man-boobs.

  • Gwenny

    I agree, Hemant, an older woman could not have pulled this off. But not just because of the media. Partly because it would be unlikely she was connected to enough people who would find it cool to get it started. Most of her friends would titter not Twitter it. :D

    That said, I, Gwenny the Pooh, titular leader of the Cult of Gwenny the Pooh’s Tits, give my full, ahem, support to this Boobquake and the support of my cultists. (Sorry, my cult page went down when geocities went down and I haven’t bothered to find someplace else to host it, or I would invite you all to join.)

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Boobs are great, but I’m a seriously devoted “ass man”. We should have an Assquake Day as well.

  • Whit

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvTrfjTlsgA

    All that has to be said, really.

  • Jeff Dale

    I got nothing to top that. Cockquake just wouldn’t have had the same appeal

    Someone on the FB event page commented something to the effect of wondering if a quake would be followed by “aftercocks.”

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    We should arrange to have pictures of our half nekkid women sent to our dear Muslim cleric for his collection. Who knows? Perhaps that much evidence of boobage in one place (his office/home/mosque whatever) would cause ANOTHER earth quake.

    Now… on a practical note…. where does one find a sexy, cleavage revealing nursing bra?

  • jamssx

    As I said in my last post on this subject just remember to ask when you see some nice boobs – Did the earth move for you too?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Is this a poll? I vote for #6.

  • Tony Alires

    I’m gonna agree with the godless monster. We definitely need an Assquake Day. Haha

  • http://auryn29a.livejournal.com Auryn

    This is the first I’ve heard about it, but I’m intrigued.

  • Jen

    (note: not the same person mentioned in the article.)

    Now, couldn’t the obvious comeback to this be that the women have to be Islamic in order to count? People accuse us atheist ladies of a lack a belief* that enrages their god, but hardly ever do they rail against us for a showing of excessive skin.

    *This lack of belief seems to include, but not be limited to, the following: feminism, love of abortion, voting in the antichrist, being mean to Pat Robertson, leaving the home, not knowing how to bake, and not understanding that our most important marriage is to Jesus Christ.

  • http://dabbleponder.blogspot.com Juliana Marie

    @ Judith – YES, the “other” boob is important to note.

    And who says Cockquake wouldn’t have the same appeal? Works for me, though I’m not sure what the immodest cock-revealing equivalent of a tank top would be – wet gym shorts?

  • geru

    Heh. A tabloid just mentioned Boobquake on their webpage here in Finland, guess Jen’s now officially the world’s #1 blogger at the moment :)

    Too bad though, one can only wonder if blaghag has now jumped the shark with this one harmless joke. It’s aaaall downhill from now on :D

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    You laugh now but when the world cracks open like an egg tomorrow you’ll not be laughing anymore. Because boobs will have destroyed the world.

    That’s a great title for a bad sci fi movie (or porno) “Boobquake: The boobs that destroyed the world”

    What a way to go. ;)

  • Jeff Dale

    Does the Boobquake event also welcome a showing of male cleavage?

    Anything that tests whether immodest dress contributes to earthquakes is OK. Thus, both displayers and viewers are needed. So enjoy the view. All in the name of science, of course.

  • quixotic

    I don’t mind showin’ a little dick neck, or some underball for a good cause.

  • muggle

    LOL! Somehow I think you’re right. I don’t think it would have carried the same whallop if this 52 year old grandmother on a rolling walker had come up with it.

    But cudos to her. As Ron keeps saying in awe of Hermoine, “Brilliant!” (I think my favorite line in all of the Harry Potter movies is when he says to Hermoine, “You know, you’re scary. Brilliant but scary.”) It’s freakling hilarious.

  • http://dubitoergo.blogspot.com Tom Foss

    Carol:

    Islam is such a misogynist organization.

    Don’t forget the streak of misandry, too. The reason I keep seeing Muslims cite immodest dress as a problem is because men can’t control themselves, they’re like animals exposed to a fresh carcass.

    In addition, Tim Minchin.

  • Ben

    Cock tsunami?

    You do remember more than one Islamic cleric (and even a Catholic or two) coming out and saying that the big Tsunami was caused by teh gay, right?

    Queertide!

    Besides, the only thing cock seems to cause is war.

    Dickattack!

  • Beijingrrl

    I’m so excited for Boobquake! I had no idea how old Jen is, so for me, it really didn’t matter. I heard about it on facebook through a friend my age, in her 40s. Many of my contemporaries are on fb and twitter, so I think you need to rethink No. 4. I think it all comes down to the name (brilliant), the cause and boobs. I’ll proudly be displaying my cleavage tomorrow, but I’m in downtown Montreal, so I doubt anyone will notice.

  • Gibbon

    I still stand by my earlier comment that this is all an overeaction to a gross misunderstanding.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    Misogyny and misandry =/= gross misunderstanding. Me and my boobs will be there!

  • Goldenjera

    I celebrated today. It’s a shame it’s approaching winter in Australia as it’s really difficult to show cleavage and stay warm. It was a good and easy way to show the world that the way women dress does not affect plate tectonics.

  • Tony

    Pics or it didn’t happen…

  • Sally

    10:15 am here in the UK, no evidence of any earthquakes yet :/

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I thought I just felt something. No… just my imagination. Must…Stop…Thinking…About…Boobs!!!

  • Flah the Heretic Methodist

    April 26th and the girls are set on stun. ‘Course, working from home sort of limits the arena, but this could determine whether immodest dress in and of itself can cause tremors. If a boob is flashed in a forest and no one is around, does it still entice men to sin??

  • http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100426/ap_on_re_as/as_taiwan_earthquake_3 DGKnipfer

    Good job Jen,

    You caused a 6.5 of the coast of Taiwan where absolutely nobody was hurt. Take this as a warning that your immodesty can and did rock my world.

    The pity is that I live in Ohio and didn’t even notice.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    You caused a 6.5 off the coast of Taiwan

    Do the immodestly dressed women get credit for this earthquake if it happened before they were immodestly dressed? I would assume most of the participants (in the west) were probably still asleep when this earthquake in Taiwan happened.

    Perhaps they were immodestly dressed while they were sleeping!!! Or perhaps the God of Abraham punishes for the intent to dress immodestly. Perhaps He punishes for thought-crimes (along with the eternal damnation punishment for “not believing the right things” crime).

  • http://www.lonesomeacres.com xpastor

    Hemant wrote:”It’s about boobs.That totally gets attention.I got nothing to top that. Cockquake just wouldn’t have had the same appeal.”

    You’re totally missing the point of the Iranian cleric’s comment. Any misbehavior on the part of your cock is all the fault of women’s boobs anyway.

  • http://www.drmetablog.com Vivian de St. Vrain

    More on the senior Iranian cleric and earthquakes:

    link

  • Gwenny

    One of my friends pointed out on my FB that men’s role in this is to be properly seduced by all the immodesty. So men, go do your part!!!

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    @Gwenny,

    Come to think of it, your avatar image is a bit immodest.

    There, I did my part.

    Jeff

  • Sherrilyn

    I love the quote from the Vivian de St. Vrains’ link above… Thank you!

    “Sedighi is a boob and is even more presumptuous and illogical than Pat and Jerry. The earthquake hasn’t even occurred and he’s already blaming it on the outfits. He’s launched a pre-emptive strike on post hoc. His is a fallacy so monumentally illogical that hasn’t yet earned a name.” ~ http://www.drmetablog.com/2010/04/earthquakes.html

    I couldn’t agree with you more ‘Doc’!!!


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