Monday, April 26, 2010
This blog supports Boobquake
Good for Jen McCreight of Blag Hag for the idea of Boobquake.
For those who don't know, this little meme ridicules the idea that "immodest" dressing by women leads to lascivious thoughts from men, which results in fornication and adultery - which, in turn, cause earthquakes. The idea was proposed a few days ago by a senior cleric in Iran, but of course it's in line with the common thought in Islam that there's something wrong with a woman "showing her beauty to the world". Christianity is not much better, of course: there's a long tradition of Christian theologians problematising women's (and men's) bodies, deprecating sexual beauty, and expressing anxiety about sex itself.
Go back to the Church Fathers, to Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome, for example, and look at what they have to say. Their writings are saturated with ideas of sexual sin and shame. Those ideas have carried right through to the present day, but they are absurd, miserable, and life-denying ... and they deserve our mockery. They exemplify the way that religion does dirt on the good things that this world has to offer.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of 1980s pseudo-feminism that took a similar attitude to that of Christianity and Islam, problematising displays of female beauty and even expressing disgust with heterosexuality itself. The worst offender was the egregious Andrea Dworkin - who died relatively young back in 2005. In her case, good riddance. These pseudo-feminists merely use feminist-sounding language to rationalise the religion-based anti-sex morality into which they were socialised. But they lack the self-insight to understand that it's what they're doing.
Get it clear: there is nothing wrong with the beauty of the human body, male or female, nothing wrong with enjoying it, and nothing wrong with displaying it to the world. If you've been blessed with physical beauty, then for Aphrodite's sake display it; take pleasure in your good fortune, and let other people take pleasure in it. Strut your stuff, and don't let anyone make you feel ashamed about so-called "immodesty". Feel free to scorn the moralism of Islamic clerics and anyone else who tries to put you down.
I find it incredible that there's still so much irrational, religion-based shame and guilt about the body even within Western societies: so much fear of the body's beauty, and of its power to arouse sexual feelings. We see this shame, guilt, and fear even among atheists, many of whom have not fully liberated themselves from traditional morals. (For Zeus's sake, what's the point of being an atheist if you still buy into the same morality as the religionists? You need to get beyond that.)
Let's return to a healthy pagan value-set. For the Greeks, beauty, creativity, analytical intelligence, athletic ability, and many other things would have been seen as excellences that it's good for a human being to have. Unfortunately, few of us possess them all (I most certainly don't!), but all of them are worthy of enjoyment and celebration wherever and whenever we do encounter them. All of these human excellences open up possibilities of one kind or another, and give a sort of power to those who possess them; all of them are admirable; and all of them can be used to bring pleasure to others.
Anxiety about the body and its beauty is sometimes rationalised on the basis that we should value cognitive abilities above physical beauty, though I'd love to see a rational argument as to why we should adopt any particular hierarchy of values. In any event, this is not a zero-sum game. You can have many of these human excellences; they don't exclude each other; and you can take a proper pride in them all. (As it happens, most of the beautiful women whom I've been fortunate enough to know have also been highly intelligent and creative. But why expect otherwise?)
Apparently, judging from this post, Jen McCreight has been given a hard time by some of the remaining pseudo-feminists - Dworkin has gone, but they're not quite extinct - who still purvey a miserable 1980s ideology. Well, let them, but they deserve no more respect than Islamic clerics, or Vatican officials, or irrationalists of any other species.