In which I am bewildered by Boobquake

Not the actual Boobquake concept. I follow Jen’s blog and Twitter and was pretty much up on the thing as it developed. I find it quite amusing, really. I’m not planning to participate myself; if nothing else, the few articles of clothing I own that show off my cleavage are most definitely Not Work Appropriate. But I’d also daresay the fact that I wear pants and polo shirts and am flaunting my uncovered red hair and even flash the occasional (gasp) ankle would count as fairly immodest in some parts of the world anyway.

What I’m really puzzled about is some of the feminist negativity. Like this, for example. Or over at Salon.

I’m basically picking up two main points from those posts, and others I’ve seen that I haven’t bothered to find again:
1) Encouragement of body image issues/women feeling pressured
2) Men like it when we show off cleavage so this is just more objectification

Encouragement of body image issues? Is there some kind of “hotties only” sign that’s been subliminally attached to the facebook page or the blog post, one that I missed? I think this is something where women will participate if they want. If there’s a whiff of body image issues here, it’s not caused by the whole Boobquake thing; rather, the response is a symptom.

Me saying “I don’t feel comfortable showing off what I’ve got” is not Boobquake forcing some sudden unpleasant realization on me that I’m a fatty and don’t like wearing tight clothing. I’ve been a fatty my entire goddamn life. It’s not making me feel worse about it. It’s just revealing once again that I’ve internalized the ridiculous beauty standards of society rather more than I care to admit. That’s something I deal with every day. Frankly, I found most of the Boobquake posts Jen’s made quite refreshing in that she hasn’t set out any kind of standard. There’s no cleavage requirement. There’s no hotness requirement. The only requirement (beyond being female) that I see is the implied requirement that one must have the confidence to wear something “revealing,” however you define that.

Right now, it’s easier for women who meet societal beauty standards to have that required confidence. But you know what? There’s a lot of women who don’t match that ridiculous beauty ideal who still have that amazing confidence, and good on them. And those of us that don’t? It’s not the fault of a silly event like Boobquake, and no one is getting on our case about it anyway.

Then on to the fact that there are some creepy dudes that are all happy because women are going to show off their cleavage. Or that this puts women on parade. You know what? No matter what we do, we’re on parade as long as society remains patriarchal. If we want to wear something that shows off our cleavage, the patriarchy wins because the patriarchy likes boobies. If we wear turtlenecks because the patriarchy likes boobies, then we are just as surely being controlled. From where I’m standing, worrying about what the patriarchy (oh faceless devil that it is) thinks about our fashion choices is the ultimate no-win situation. The fact that we’re worried about it to begin with means that we have ceded them just a little more control over our choices and our lives.

In the Salon article, Beth Mann mentions the feminists of yore burning their bras as a political statement. It was bold, and it was shocking. But you know what? I bet there were some dudes standing around that were more than happy to ogle the angry feminists with their braless breasts. So has it ever been. I think it’s just as much of a political statement that those proud, angry women didn’t let that stop them.

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