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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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?