BitchBuzz: Little Earthquakes

My latest column for BitchBuzz touches on the laughable comment by an Islamic cleric that women’s provocative dressing and sexual desire causes earthquakes. Ridiculous because even small children who look for logical answers to natural phenomena know about fault lines, but just another depressing indication of the scapegoating of women that goes on. Until my friend Byron turned my head around:

Dust kicked up across the net this week when a Iranian cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, claimed that women dressing provocatively and “spreading adultery” were responsible for earthquakes. Kind of makes you wonder if some woman’s solo pleasure caused the eruption of the Icelandic volcano (since apparently [she says arching a disbelieving eyebrow] masturbation is the last sexual taboo remaining).

The responses across the globe were predictably a mix of amused and angered: amused that someone in the 21st century could so ignore so much accumulated scientific fact, angered that it’s still possible for so many people to blame women for a wide variety of evils…


  1. Todd Mason says:

    You note that in clitorectomy territory, relatively few earthquakes. QED. Meanwhile, clearly SOUTH PARK causes earthquakes. There's always going to be some loony-tune who finds some reason to dump on someone irrlevantly (James Watt was always good for this in the Sainted Regan Administration here in the US)…pity the targets aren't more evenly distributed (and if they are, that the other looney-tunage doesn't get quite as much play).

  2. K. A. Laity says:

    So much of it is smokescreens and diversion tactics. Let's whip people into a frenzy about non-issues while they ignore the real problems. I really despair over this country and its spiral into ignorance and prejudice. But that's what you get when you gut education.

  3. Todd Mason says:

    Ah…you posit there was ever a time that education was ever ungutted. But it hits the shrinking middle classes these days.

  4. Todd Mason says:

    Those areas of middle class that once had somewhat better, never good enough, support for education (beyond learning to sit at a desk and be quiet, always the primary cirriculum of most of my own experience in the relatively well-funded schools of the 1970s in relatively middle class neighborhoods…and even my experience at a pompous but well-funded private school in Honolulu, the year after the current US president graduated).

  5. K. A. Laity says:

    I think I'm impatient because there is less cause for the ignorance now; so many avenues to knowledge and yet we have a country taken over by fearful stupidity.You're right — education has always been a privilege; but there have been so many structural blows to the process that I fear we will never recover from it. American anti-intellectualism has become institutionalised.

  6. Todd Mason says:

    Recall…Scopes lost. I suspect the current yahooism might also see some pushback. (I've always had a problem with the "privilege" dynamic…it's not privilege for the powerful group to be treated as human beings should be treated, as much as members are, so much as the oppression of the others that needs to be eradicated or at least lessened whenever possible…tagging it privilege has always given me the impression that it's somehow something the recipients have no right to, as opposed to everyone having the right to, such as a an actually helpful education.

  7. Todd Mason says:

    Actually, having lived in the DC area for twelve years, I've seen and heard much of what Tim White posits arise ro one degree or another, not least in attempts to pretend that the Nation of Islam and some other groups should be accepted by the society as a whole without changing a whole lot about themselves (I remember one rather famous speech by Elijah Muhammad in which he declaimed, "You will not kill our Malcolm Xes…", to which my immediate thought in response was, Yes, it'd be nice if you'd quit killing our Malcolm Shabazzes as well). As one who listened to the Pacifica Radio station and some of the discussion on Howard University's television station, a PBS affiliate, among other relatively established media, such posited expressions do and have come up…though without a major international corporation, Fox News, doing what it can to shape and control them.

  8. K. A. Laity says:

    I don't see it that way: just something some people have relative to people who don't. Maybe it's just my frustration with being in the education industry and feeling as if I am wasting my time.

  9. Todd Mason says:

    Fair enough…for me, perhaps not so much for others "privilege" tends to imply undeserved.

  10. Todd Mason says:

    Just to be clear, I refer above to the Malcolm Shabazz (sometimes referred to as Malcolm X Shabazz, which I believe was never how he referred to himself) who rose to prominence as Malcolm X and was born Malcolm Little, not that man's grandson also Malcolm Shabazz. He became Shabazz after breaking with the NOI, unable to countenance many aspects of that organization.

  11. K. A. Laity says:

    A tangled web.

  12. Todd Mason says:

    Fighting the good fight, at some level, is never time-wasting. However unsatisfying it is.

  13. I believe that most of us stop learning when we graduate either from High School or College. It's much easier to listen to the "talking heads" who tell us what we ought to think. As a comparison to the ignorance of Muslims regarding women, rememberthat Christians used to be raised on the dogma that woman was the source of all temptations because of Eve's tempting Adam with the "forbidden fruit". (Forget about the role played by legend or the symbolism of the "fruit" in question; namely a human desire to decide what is good or evil–something the Hebrew storytellers abhored.)It is a sign of hope that not all Muslims blindly follow the radicalImams. As not all Christians subscribe to their radical fundamentlists. We progress slowly but I believe we will get there.When is the questions. And no, I don't have the answer either.Acts of love and caring are always in order, whether pagan or other wise. I salute all my wiccan and Native American brothers and sisters and wish them all a successful journey on their chosen path.

  14. K. A. Laity says:

    Jack, I have long tended to think people were pretty much like me, though of course I have gradually figured out that is not the case, but I think a lively curiosity is natural to the species, but gets drummed out by bad education and other institutions. And yes, intolerance knows no boundaries in belief systems nor geographies.Todd, is it the good fight? Maybe I am tilting against the natural forces of entropy. It is exhausting in any case.

  15. Todd Mason says:

    You're better able to guage than I, Kate…you clearly are reaching some students (by the the testimony of they themselves earlier here, iirc), but what percentage or proportion (and to what extent) makes it worthwhile, is a question you get to answer for yourself, even as we all have to answer for ourselves every day (as we assess our options).But encouraging your students to think is a good thing.

  16. K. A. Laity says:

    "The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction." — William Blake

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