Friday, September 5, 2008

Never Burned a Bra

[Feminist Chronicles] I grew up a feminist, raised by a feminist, who was raised by a feminist. I spent much of the first half of my life hearing early feminists called "women's libbers" and "bra burners."

But no one has ever been able to provide me with a shred of evidence that women marching for equal rights burned a bra in the process. Today, National Public Radio's Morning Edition featured a terrific piece that shatters the ol' bra burning myth. The feature looks back at the 1968 Miss America Pageant, and the small but vocal group that protested the beauty contest for the first time. Three of the protesters and Miss America 1968 are interviewed. Fascinating stuff.

In truth, the protesters had a a large garbage bin in which they threw "instruments of female torture"--pots and pans, copies of Playboy magazine, hair curlers, bras and girdles. As one of the protesters now recalls:

"The media picked up on the bra part. I often say that if they had called us 'girdle burners,' every woman in America would have run to join us."

And if anyone out there can prove bras got burned in the past 40 years in the name of feminism, I'd love to hear from you. (Holly Mullen)


  1. Well, I sure liked some of the music from that era. Helen Reddy`s `I am woman` and Joan Baez doing the Dylan song `Love is just a four-letter word`

    Wanna be an uber-feminist? Move to NorCal...none of that "power of the priesthood" bullshit here. Toss all the female accoutrements in the trash and live a free life!!

    Even write a paean to Hillary.

  2. I've seen film on TV showing women burning bras from the 60's so know it happened. It was likely in New York as Betty Friedan was there I think, but as chardonnay could well have been in San Francisco, where the hippies embraced the concept. Braless was the look of the day back then and oh so comfortable.......

  3. The last commenter said that the braless look was oh so comfortable . . if that is true, why isn't it still the fashion? I am surrounded by females who are uncomfortably warm at a much lower temperature than I find uncomfortable, and probably part of the problem is they are wearing a fairly heavy piece of clothing on their torso that I (as a male) am not required to wear. If it's more comfortable without that apparel, why use it? (But don't ask me why we men still wear ties, OK?)

  4. This is Roberta. As recently as February of this year (2008) women were burning their bras. Try this website:

    Last February, Tyra Banks and friends went backstage and burned their bras.

    This certainly falls within the time frame ("the last 40 years") of your challenge.

    One last thing: Let's not re-write our own history; let's be honest. You were not raised by a feminist who was raised by a feminist.

  5. Uh, yes Roberta, I was. And since you don't know me or anything about my female relatives, you don't get to decide who is and isn't a feminist in my ancestry.

  6. Interesting posts, Roberta and Holly. Which bring up the real question: what, exactly, is a "feminist"?

    I would be most interested in an answer from either or both of you. Holly, since you claim to be a third generation feminist, let's hear from you first. Precisely what is a feminist?


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