Feminism F.A.Q.s: Did Feminists Burn Bras?

by | May 17, 2012
filed under Feminism, Pop Culture

Feminism FAQs Title Screenby Jarrah Hodge

I’m pretty happy to have got my Feminism F.A.Q.s mojo back with this new edition: Did Feminists Burn Bras?

You may notice I have a bit of a new look for the videos and I’ve improved the sound quality significantly. I have two more new ones I’m in the process of editing and I re-filmed 3 of the older ones using the better mic and lighting, so I’ve removed those from my YouTube and the Feminism F.A.Q.s page on this website until that’s done.

As usual, please comment below if you have any topics you’d like me to cover in future videos , and these videos are designed as a resource for other feminists and bloggers to help you deal with these questions in an accessible, and succinct format. So feel free to share!

Special thanks to Anita at Feminist Frequency for sharing her experience and helping me resolve some of my tech issues.

(photo in the video is from Duke University Special Collections, via Media Myth Alert) Full transcript after the jump.

Full Transcript:

Hi, I’m Jarrah Hodge. Welcome to Feminism F.A.Q.s, where I try to answer questions and clear up some myths about feminism.

Today: Did feminists burn bras?

This is an easy one: No

So where did this myth come from? And why do we keep seeing it repeated in media and pop culture?

The story goes that at the 1968 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, a group of protesters called New York Radical Women tore off their bras and threw them into a bonfire, sparking a wave of bra-burnings across the country.

In reality a small group of protesters did picket the event. Part of their attempt to draw attention to the way women are judged as sex objects rather than people they threw cosmetics, high heels, and bras into a large trash can.

But partly due to discussions with local authorities beforehand, there was no fire and no one took their bras off. There were also no subsequent bra-burnings were held in support, at least none that have been documented.

But it was a time of draft-card burnings and a young reporter from the New York Post tried to link the feminist protest to the Vietnam protests by describing the event as a bra burning. The idea got widespread pickup and the myth persists today.

And it’s unfortunate, because the “bra-burner” label has been used for decades to trivialize the feminist movement and hide its diversity.

But it also manages to derail an important discussion, which is to say that even if feminists didn’t burn bras in 1968, their protest against modern beauty standards deserves real consideration.


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