Monday, December 3, 2012

Bra Burning, It's All Been A Lie

A lot of people associate Feminism with the image of crazy, radical girls in the 60's setting their bras on fire to protest gender discrimination. 

Funny story.
That never actually happened.

Finally Feminism 101 had a post in response to a question about how the whole bra buring this is a a false memory harbored by a lot of people, and how it was never actually a thing that happened.

"The stereotype of the “bra-burning feminist” is one that remains today as a sort of feminist bogeyman to scare women (and men) away from the movement by pointing out how “ridiculous” and “radical” feminists are. The rub is, feminists never burned their bras as a political statement."(

Picture from
The false image is estimated to come from one of the very first protests. During a picketing of a Miss America beauty pageant, the group of women "crowned a live sheep, and dumped girdles, cosmetics, high-heeled shoes, and bras into a “freedom trash can”" ( A print article flippantly referenced "bra-burning" when discussing the event and the phrase stuck, identifying all feminists as bra-burning radicals.

Apparently the women wanted to burn the bras, along with other "instruments of female torture" but the police department wouldn't let them. However, Carol Hanisch who had a part in organizing the protest takes a more amused stance on the memory saying, 

"We had intended to burn it, but the police department, since we were on the boardwalk, wouldn't let us do the burning. I often say that if they had called us 'girdle burners,' every woman in America would have run to join us." (

It's funny to think that a revolution that has inspired so many women has a myth that is consistent perpetuated and has been for quite a long time. The writer of the post on Finally Feminism makes a good point though.

"It’s important to remember that, even though the particular claim is a myth, the act that it symbolized — a rejection of patriarchal beauty standards and the trappings that go with them — is absolutely a feminist cause and not trivial at all."

To think, only a few dozen years ago, women had to protest to be allowed to wear pants. PANTS. And we had "freedom trash cans". It was truly a different time.

Interestingly enough to me, most feminist arguments I've heard lately are more about the right to wear skirts, mostly in reference to rape cases where judges designate blame to the victim for how she was dressed. In the picture on the left you can see a sign from a protest that's garnered a lot of attention.

We live in a strange world, and I find it a little weird that we still have to protest stuff like this. That we would designate blame to a victim of rape because of their clothes is like telling a victim of a hit and run accident it's their fault because they were walking.

Thank god for the American legal system. Oh, and good old gender discrimination.


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