October 20th, 2010

The Bra-Burning Myth

Did you know that no lingerie was harmed in the name of feminism? The inaccurate stereotype first came about in 1968 when a group of women protested the objectification of women at the Miss America contest in Atlantic City.

In one of a series of performances, they tossed girdles, bras and tweezers into a “freedom trashcan” – a critique on the ideals that corseted women into narrow definitions of beauty and valued us solely for our looks. The protestors proposed setting the contents of the trashcan ablaze, but were stopped by police.

Journalists covering the story branded the women “bra-burners” and the sensationalist monicker spread like, ahem, wildfire, even though it was completely inaccurate.

For some, even now, it’s easier to crack jokes about people whose viewpoints threaten the status quo than to engage in actual debate. Unfortunately, the nickname – a classic way of caricaturing womens’ liberation activists and triviliasing the seriousness of the issue – stuck. So, dispel the myth next time someone calls you a bra-burner. And if that fails, try telling them to “shut up and sit down”.

Do you have any other trivia about feminism, women or gender? Send your ideas to media@aware.org.sg

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