Last week, Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi—Tehran’s Friday Prayer leader—shook the patience of women worldwide by claiming that promiscuous and immodest women were responsible for earthquakes. Yes, you read that right.
I wish I could say that his absurd statement surprised me as much as it did countless others, but as an Iranian American woman who is all too familiar with the words and ways of misguided mullahs, I can’t say that I have an ounce of surprise left in me for Sedighi’s dim-witted declaration.
I was, however, pleasantly surprised by two creative responses to his comments. One from an imaginative Indiana-based blogger Jen McCreight (left), who also calls herself Blag Hag, and another by an ingenious pair of professors—Golbarg Bashi (right), an Iranian studies professor at Rutgers University, and Negar Mottahedeh, a film, literature and women’s studies professor at Duke University.
In a “modest proposal” posted on her blog and a corresponding Facebook page, McCreight states her intentions to “test [Sedighi’s] claim scientifically” by encouraging women to dress as immodestly as they feel comfortable on Monday, April 26, so that she can conduct a statistical analysis to see if all that immodesty did indeed lead to a rise in tectonic activity. McCreight explains her motivation thus:
I’m a firm believer that when someone says something so stupid and hateful, serious discourse isn’t going to accomplish anything—sometimes light-hearted mockery is worthwhile.
I wholeheartedly agree and I’m not alone. McCreight’s proposal yielded an overwhelming response. Her virtual protest, which she dubbed Boobquake, drew over 150,000 attendees on Facebook, but it also garnered considerable controversy.
After learning about Boobquake, Professors Bashi and Mottahedeh confessed to being “saddened” by it, and quickly came up with a proposal of their own, also in the form of a virtual protest held on Facebook on Monday. They called it Brainquake. Bashi and Mottahedeh’s call:
Let’s create a ‘Brainquake’ and show off our resumes, CVs, honors, prizes, accomplishments (photo evidence), because the Hojatoleslam and the Islamic Republic of Iran are afraid of women’s abilities to push for change, to thrive despite gender apartheid. (Did you know that over 64 percent of students studying at universities in Iran are women?). Let’s honor the accomplishments of Iranian women by showing off our abilities, our creativity, our ingenuity, and our smarts on our blogs, on Wikipedia, on Twitter, on Youtube, on Flickr and all over Facebook.
Admittedly, I prefer Brainquake to Boobquake, but I don’t see any conflict between the two. There are as many ways to protest as there are protesters. Even if we find ourselves disagreeing on means, I think we agree on a common goal: to further shake the already-shaken credibility of the leaders of the so-called Islamic Republic of Iran.
So why not work together? As an unapologetically brainy, busty and well-accomplished Iranian American Muslim feminist writer, speaker, blogger, author, attorney and activist, I have no qualms admitting that I am happily attending both protests and eagerly awaiting the aftershocks.
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