«

»

Jul 16 2008

College junior purports to grasp something

Not to come off as one of those “busy” bloggers who doesn’t have time to write a proper post — that I suck profoundly as a blogger has already been established — but here’s a curious little item from the University of Texas student paper with which I am going to leave you before biffing off for the day on pressing spinster auntly business.

Before you jump my shit for persisting in my cruel campaign against helpless undergraduate journalists, let me reiterate that yes, I know we all have to start somewhere, and no, I don’t expect feminists to spring fully formed from the womb. But. I can’t ignore that collegiate America so consistently publishes the creeping antifeminist delusions gurgling within the nascent citizens of tomorrow.

Anyway, here’s a weird piece in which college junior and “proponent of ordered liberty” Brianna Becker, inspired by the Latter-Day Saints slaves who’ve been riding the tide of controversy to market their turn-of-the-century Christian burkas, advises young women on the subject of sartorial modesty. Of course she invokes, as teenagers will do, this priceless gem:

Decades ago, equity feminists iconically sacrificed their undergarments through public bra burnings. This excessive act, in which women removed and reverted their restrictive clothing to ashes, was the manifestation of radical philosophy. Their theory was a degenerate form of classical feminism.

Somebody, please, tell young Brianna Becker what time it is.

64 comments

1 ping

  1. perinteger

    I wonder what difference the young journalist supposes to exist between speaking “through the clothes” and speaking “with them”.

  2. Jezebella

    There are so many things to say to Brianna, but first: It’s time to put down the thesaurus and back, away, slowly, young onion.

  3. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    And, shit-oh-dear, she’s a student of government.

  4. B. Dagger Lee

    Hey, it’s a mashup of freshman year courses: Journalism, Art History, Political Science, Philosophy, and Women’s Studies 101!

    I think “ordered liberty” is code for some kind of creepy conservative reading of the constitution.

  5. Vermonter

    “Be comfortable, flattering and classically stylish, yet not distracting. As trends change, keep up and continue to be effective by prudently updating your wardrobe without changing your principles.”

    translation:

    “Make sure you conform to the pornsick culture’s feminizing norms without getting too carried away – you’re not important but your sexual attractiveness is. Buy into misogynist fashion trends to affirm your allegiance to the patriarchy.”

  6. Anastasia

    “Be comfortable, flattering and classically stylish, yet not distracting.”

    Is this exhortation directed at me or my clothes? It’s not altogether clear. And you know, enough with the adjectives and adverbs. Is there an editor in this text?

    The whole neo-conservative “modesty” schtick has been done before by wendy shalit, also an undergraduate philosopher, and I have to wonder if this isn’t in the intellectual genealogy of this piece. I know how popular Shalit’s books are with people who are inclined to such arguments.

    What troubles me is that young women who clearly dislike the porn culture don’t understand that feminists are not the enemy. On the contrary.

  7. DaisyDeadhead

    HAHAHA! Okay, this article made my day! Thanks!

    And BTW, this is MY personal money quote:

    The goal of modesty should be to further the portrayal of inner virtue. Materials of modesty should draw attention not to themselves, but to an aesthetic ideal that cannot be physically represented – something higher and immaterial, like Plato’s famous Forms.

    Long skirts = Plato. Far out!

  8. Dr. Steph

    The message: Be feminist, as long as you don’t do anything loud, messy, radical, or which makes me feel icky or go eeeewwwww.

    So really, don’t be feminist at all.

  9. Jezebella

    Please, pardon my excessive comma usage up there. I hadn’t finished my coffee yet. BDL, I was wondering the same thing: what *is* “ordered liberty” code for?

  10. Jezebella

    I realize I’m probably over-using the blame button today, but I just checked, and “Ordered Liberty” is a con-law notion that I could not decipher into ordinary English, perhaps a lawyer can explain it.

    It is also something the Acton Institute is fond of: http://www.acton.org/publications/randl/rl_article_285.php

    Said institute’s mission being “to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.” In other words, to promote christian theocracy “ordered” by The Big Sky Fairy and Heavenly Concierge in which we are “at liberty” to be as christian as we wanna be.

  11. norbizness

    I assume that Susan Faludi’s Backlash is available in paperback; maybe it just needs to get rid of the boring early 90s color scheme (something more Madchester?) to at least provide a rudimentary pop culture education for Daily Texan contributors.

    And if you think that’s bad, the comics are even worse. Not from a feminist perspective; they look like they were scribbled by diseased howler monkeys.

  12. Cath

    Oh, crap in a hat, nobody ever burned a bra!!!

    I couldn’t get any farther than that. Sorry.

  13. norbizness

    Like I said, I think that’s on page 9 of Backlash. The stuff about Roseanne might be a little dated, though.

  14. mikeb302000

    Is she too young and inexperienced to read this blog?

  15. Blue

    Brianna here knows exactly what time it is. She has grasped quite thoroughly the concept that people tend to listen to a woman’s clothing much harder than to her actual words. By saying that one should speak “through” clothes instead of “with” them, she is pointing out that in a world where people care more about your clothes than your ideas, it’s easier to get your ideas across when your clothing is unremarkable. In a patriarchy, that’s probably the best you can do.

    Twisty, I started reading this blog during your recent Stanley-related hiatus, and I am a fan. You’ve made my work day considerably more bearable.

  16. thebewilderness

    “Ordered Liberty”, I’m guessing, Is just another way of saying, submit, or die.

  17. arby

    I weep for the feminists of tomorrow when well-intentioned ignoramuses (ignorami?) such as Ms. Becker are promoted as spokeswomyn.

    In other news (I hope I am allowed to do this?) I just read something that made my skin crawl – HHS wants to redefine contraception as abortion so they don’t have to pay for it.

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/07/15/hhs-moves-define-contraception-abortion

    (I quote from the above-linked page:)
    In a spectacular act of complicity with the religious right, the Department of Health and Human Services Monday released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman’s access to contraception. In order to do this, the Department is attempting to redefine many forms of contraception…as abortion. Doing so protects extremists under the Weldon and Church amendments. Those laws prohibit federal grant recipients from requiring employees to help provide or refer for abortion services.

    I am sickened but sadly, not entirely surprised.

  18. Lemur

    Their theory was a degenerate form of classical feminism.
    Okay, as far as I can translate from that, burning your own underwear=degenerate. Like burning the American flag? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of man-approved boobies?
    Also, I generally tend to speak “with my words” and not “with my clothes”… unless I’m wearing a shirt with, you know, words on. But somehow I bet that’s not what she meant.
    *sigh* For every step forward…

  19. Ivy

    I apologise on behalf of all undergraduates everywhere.

    As horrifying as that article is, however, it pales in comparison to what passes for journalism at my college in San Marcos. To explain the fish-wrapping worthiness of the alleged Texas State University newspaper, let “x” equal quantitative heinousness and “y” equal the number of words of insipid drivel.

    (xy)!^10 == The University Star

  20. Bitch, Esquire

    OK, just to completely derail any intelligent commentary: The picture on the top of the Acton Institute’s website, what do you call that angle? The Blowjob POV? I mean, PR folks seem to like all that foreshortened shit and whatnot for web images, but come on.

    Anyway. If they don’t call that the Blowjob POV in the industry, they darn well should.

    I’d've said something smarter about this whole issue if I could have, but that’s all I got.

  21. panoptical

    In revolutionary America, the idea of placing the power to govern in the hands of the common people was controversial – many people feared that the result would be mob rule, or complete anarchy. The idea of ordered liberty acknowledged that in order to have a functioning society, you do need some rules and some government, but in order to ensure liberty, there should be as few rules and as little government as necessary to maintain order.

    What is left unsaid is that in the place of secular government, most proponents of ordered liberty – like the Founding Fathers – expect social order to be maintained on the local level by religious institutions. The Salem witch trials are a good example of how “ordered liberty” could go wrong.

    The other, con law aspect of “ordered liberty,” is even worse. Originally, the Bill of Rights only protected people from the actions of the Federal government – in other words, state or local governments could still restrict freedom of speech, for instance, or inflict cruel and unusual punishments on citizens. Nowadays, the states are (mostly) held to the same rules as the feds. This is because of a doctrine called “incorporation” – of which “ordered liberty” is the opposite. In other words, ordered liberty would mean that states wouldn’t necessarily have to give citizens the protections afforded them by the Bill of Rights. To me, this sounds scary – especially in the hands of people who want to bear arms but aren’t so keen on religious freedom.

  22. Twisty

    I was hoping that somebody would explain that the celebrated bra-burnings of the 60′s are entirely mythical. The spurious cultural narrative derives from a feminist protest at the 1968 Miss America pageant.

    Quoth Susan Brownmiller: “We only threw a bra symbolically into a trash can.”

    The idea of a bunch of half-naked women chucking their underwear onto a bonfire like crazed savages was so ludicrous and so insulting to the movement that it immediately wormed its way into a collective consciousness eager to discredit feminism by any means necessary.

  23. deja pseu

    Oy, what self-important swill. I was glad to see the first few commenters take the author to task for the bra-burning nonsense. I daresay she needs to read less drudge and more Faludi.

  24. HT

    Twisty
    I’ve been a lurker for a longish tiime.
    I’m an older woman.
    I lived through the sixties.
    I remember Woodstock and have knowledge of communes.
    This young lady is, unfortunately, a sign of the times. A person who has no knowledge or experience whatsoever, but wants to make a name for herself in denigrating others legitimate effors. One could almost call her a leech….an organism that lives by ingesting the blood of others. Seems appropriate.
    P.s. there were no bra burnings. That was media hype….hype that has now become another urban legend.

  25. TwissB

    Interesting gloss on “ordered liberty,” Panoptical.

    “In other words, ordered liberty would mean that states wouldn’t necessarily have to give citizens the protections afforded them by the Bill of Rights. To me, this sounds scary – especially in the hands of people who want to bear arms but aren’t so keen on religious freedom.”

    I wonder why women aren’t really scared right now since they don’t have any recognition of their rights anyway under the Bill of Rights or any other provision of the Constitution except the 19th Amendment.

    The only explanation I can propose is that most of us – and lawyers in particular – are conned into believing that it ain’t so because men say it ain’t so.

    And you know that men would never lie to women.

  26. Tigs

    Pressing further into the history of the concept of ordered liberty, I think Daisy Deadhead points us in the right direction towards Platonic liberty.
    This view of liberty is best illustrated by Plato’s Chariot tale. The soul (the only important part of people–bodies are dirty and ephemeral) is tripartite. The only truly free part is the rational aspect, which acts as the charioteer guiding and disciplining the wild drives of appetite and spirit (thymos). Appetite and Spirit would try to drag us towards excess, which is off the chariot’s path. Letting either horse dominate would possibly even destroy the chariot by tipping it or busting a wheel. Only when Reason leads can the chariot be free to run down the [b]Right[/b] path.

    Of course, this is contingent on the path itself being the rational way.
    Perhaps Brianna could use a primer on the irrationality of patriarchy?

    I am all for ordered liberty based on the rational foundation that human DNA = human status.

  27. panoptical

    TwissB: much has been said about the fact that the oppression of women by the government no longer takes the form of overt, explicitly discriminatory laws – that instead, such discrimination comes as laws that masquerade as other than what they are, for instance, “we’re not discriminating against women, we’re just protecting fetuses!” And because the courts tend not to enforce the 14th amendment (which forms the basis of the incorporation doctrine I mentioned above) as strictly in cases of sexual discrimination as they do in cases of racial discrimination, institutional sexism is often allowed to slip through the cracks without even showing up as a blip on the radar.

    The thing is, all this stuff is based on case law and enforcement. None of it is likely to make it to the Supreme Court, or to be discussed in Congress – let alone the mainstream, national press. So if someone says that women are guaranteed equal protection under the law by the Constitution, that is technically true – the problem is that the judges and other officials charged with making the guarantees in the Constitution come true have fallen down on the job when it comes to the equal protection of women.

    A Constitutional guarantee of rights is no guarantee at all. Illegal wire-tapping, having suspects declared enemy combatants, numerous undeclared wars – I don’t think that women have been conned into thinking that their rights are protected. I think women just realize that the guarantees of a patriarchal government wouldn’t mean anything anyway.

  28. Clare

    I am currently studying for the bar exam in Arizona and just graduated from a law school in New York, and I’d like to add a little something to the ordered liberty concept.

    The phrase “ordered liberty” was used by the Supreme Court in various court cases in determining whether a particular right under the first ten amendments to the Constitution should be incorporated to apply to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court would address a particular right, such as freedom of speech or the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and ask, Does this right fit into the scheme of notions of ordered liberty and therefore so fundamental that state governments must be bound by that right as well as the federal government?

    I concentrated in constitutional law, and overall, despite the phrase’s origins and the particular justices’ reasons for using it (as the fellow blamers have pointed out), the phrase has a positive connotation for those of us who agree with incorporating as many constitutional rights as possible.

  29. Cassie

    Brianna Becker has quite shrewdly grasped that the combination of sell-out-your-gender-blame-the-victim-I-mean-those-damn-sluts “feminism” and pompous English is certain to land her a lucrative career as a national pundit and commentator on all matters female, with a cushy right-wing think-tank salary to boot. Not bad for someone in their early twenties.

    Oh, but she’ll never make as much as the boys, and never really be considered one of them, and her soul and self-respect will continue to shrivel, resulting in more anti-woman vitriol and a hefty meds prescription.

  30. Twisty

    Ha, you don’t need to be a dudeminion to need hefty meds.

  31. Twisty

    Panoptical: “I think women just realize that the guarantees of a patriarchal government wouldn’t mean anything anyway.”

    I wish. If more of us did realize it, maybe we’d have a shot.

  32. Barbara P

    I’ve wondered this for a long time: what exactly is so bad about bra-burning anyway?

    Whether it happened or not, why is it something that can be held against feminists? Why do feminists bother defending against this claim?

    (When I think about it, I realize that they need to defend against the claim is the same as Obama needing to defend his lack of a flag pin.)

    Still, I want to know what’s truly “wrong” with bra-burning, other than perhaps the air pollution aspect.

  33. goblinbee

    Barbara P, I’ve been wondering along the same lines.
    But, then, I like to burn things. Among other reasons, it is a way for me to create mental space, to give things up that no longer serve me. I guess it would seem hostile to most Mormons that I burned my leather-bound Book of Mormon (it had my name embossed on the front and I didn’t want to throw or give it away), and, I don’t mind that interpretation, but that interpretation alone would be a simplistic one. The same could go for bra burning. I’m sure someone, somnewhere has burned a bra or two at one time or another–I would say more power to her.

  34. mir

    Barbara P:
    “Still, I want to know what’s truly “wrong” with bra-burning, other than perhaps the air pollution aspect.”

    I think it’s shorthand for “them silly women”. To synopsize a human rights movement lasting centuries as a bunch of ladies setting fire to their underwear is the ultimate trivialization. It paints anything before and after as inane. Much like the desire of women to be seen as human.

    Plus, consider all the hypothetical poor souls exposed to the sight of unfettered nipples- feminists aren’t just silly, they’re dangerous. Areolae of societal collapse, etc.

  35. blondie

    “Ordered Liberty” — some get Liberty; most get Ordered.

  36. Barbara P

    mir:

    Is it because feminists are silly, or because they’re angry? I mean, when someone says “I’m not the bra-burning kind of feminist”, what do they really mean?

    I’m (mildly) concerned because, while I never burned an actual bra, I AM the “bra-burning kind of feminist”. I hate having to wear a bra, and I would totally get on board with any movement freeing me from them. (I realize some women are actually more comfortable with a bra, especially when exercising, but I also know that many aren’t.) While I realize there are surely bigger issues for feminism to be concerned with, it disheartens me to think that feminists see bras as somehow sacrosanct (because of the epithet? I don’t know!)

    (Also, bras don’t prevent my nipples from poking through, so I’m dangerous no matter what.)

  37. B. Dagger Lee

    Good one, blondie!

  38. MzNicky

    In the late 60s burning things — draft cards, flags, university administration buildings, “ghettos,” what have you — was a scary activity practiced by the scary radical left. What better way to demonize the nascent second-wave feminist movement than by combining said scary burning activity with bras! It had everything going for it: sex! fire! scariness! Who cared that it never really happened? The image was too good to pass up!

  39. mir

    @ Barbara P:

    I can’t speak to what all feminists hold sacrosanct but personally I’d urge you to burn whatever patriarchal symbols you so desire right on down to the ground.

  40. Satsuma

    Barbara P. wonders why women bother to say they are “not the bra burning type of feminist,” and this is because many woman are simply afraid to be out and out feminists. Women cower and often are afraid of brutal conflict. Somehow, angry is the very worst thing a woman can be.

    Now imagine not being angry or supressing anger all your life at rapists in your family, or at the sexist insults men get away with day in and day out. I remember a few years ago, a man chided me for not smiling at him. Bam, I bashed his head in just for saying that. “Why aren’t you smiling you stupid sexist pig,” I told him as I threatened to kick his head in again. There, I bet he won’t feel so free to insult another woman again!

    All of this dancing around with “bra burning” which incidently never happened (women threw bras in the 1968 freedom basket and there were no fires, but hey who ever cared about accuracy).

    Young women are afraid of offending people, afraid of feminism and cowed by the religious right. Another aspect of this is a code word meaning “I’m not a radical lesbian
    feminist.” It’s the old straight woman’s fear of lesbians.

    Speaking just for myself, there is nothing I like better than being an angry feminist. I love seeing the look on men’s faces when I put a choke hold on them. One wrong move against women, and I take no prisoners. This is radical feminism, you actually defend yourself and make men fear the living hell out of you for any wrong word or deed. Imagine all these whining men not being able to spout off their usual un-P.C. sexist words. I tell them, go ahead, say anything you want, and then I’m going to bust your chops and excerise my freedom to break your noses! Now that’s in your face feminism.

    Women, you have got to get over this whimpy fear of even the word “feminism.” Take some boxing lessons, punch a few men in the head now and then. Get over this mealy mouth fear of total freedom. Just do it. I’m sick of the namby pambies out there. We are at war with patriarcby, and like all wars, innocent men get bashed… only in my book men are always guilty, and if it wasn’t for the crime they get bashed in the head for, just imagine that you landed a punch for some girl they coerced into having sex in a back seat in 1973!

    Remember, men are born guilty! So let’s do some executioners songs :-)

  41. goblinbee

    Bashing people in the head? Don’t they ever sue?

  42. Satsuma

    They never sue because I bash them so hard their brains are dead! :-) Men don’t sue, they don’t have the legal intelligence.

  43. Satsuma

    P.S. Having more fun than a barrel of monkeys blaming the patriarchy with all the passion I can muster!

  44. Jodie

    Maybe in some weird way, bra burning equates flag burning for some folks. Both make some people foam at the mouth anyway.

  45. Satsuma

    The fear of fire. Hmmm

  46. panoptical

    http://wjz.com/local/hagerstown.performer.lawsuit.2.773015.html

    Careful, Satsuma. We’d miss you if you went to jail.

  47. Haley

    Wow. That’s all I can say.

  48. Lemur

    Reading through this, I realized I did not actually know that no, nnbody ever burned their bras. It’s been bandied about so much that I didn’t realize it was a Historical Urban Legend (like so much of american history taught in schools). As an angry young blamer, I’m ashamed of me. Although I’m uncomfy without them, I’d dig burning em for the symbolism- especially those cheap, pornified lacy kind that do nothing but itch and display one’s body parts for some dude’s titillation (ha!).
    But obviously, I need to hang my head and go back to Feminist History 202.
    *does so*

  49. Kali

    Careful, Satsuma. We’d miss you if you went to jail.

    Is self defense a crime? Can’t we claim “extreme provocation” like the dudes do all the time?

  50. Barbara P

    mir –

    I appreciate your support; unfortunately, I don’t know of any scheduled group bra-burnings, and I don’t really feel right doing it myself (for starters, where would I do it – in my neighborhood?). I do have one that I could burn because it doesn’t fit right and I can’t return it.

    It would be cool if feminists made the “urban legend” a reality. They might as well – how could it hurt?

  51. MzNicky

    Lemur: Don’t beat yourself up over it, young blamer. It’s now become part of ‘conventional wisdom,’ or whatever passes for such these days. That’s because the media seized upon it as a narrative at the time and have been bleating the same horseshit (no offense, Twisty) ever since. Who knew it never really occurred, except for us near-elderly second-wavers who actually did research on it when we were journalism/women’s studies grad students way back in the day?

  52. Christopher

    “In the late 60s burning things — draft cards, flags, university administration buildings, “ghettos,” what have you — was a scary activity practiced by the scary radical left.”

    Yeah, that makes sense.

    I, too, have wondered what the big deal is with bra burning. I don’t think it’s just a way to insult the frivolousness of women.

    Decades ago, equity feminists iconically sacrificed their undergarments through public bra burnings. This excessive act, in which women removed and reverted their restrictive clothing to ashes, was the manifestation of radical philosophy. Their theory was a degenerate form of classical feminism.

    People who decry the bra-burners seem genuinely offended. I rarely hear a tone of, “ah, those wacky women! Whaddya gonna do?”. People usually seem angry, and I’ve never understood why people were so attached to underwear.

    I bet it really is the association with those bad, bad 60s radicals.

    As for this article, ouch. We can all take comfort in the fact that five or ten years from now she’ll look back and cringe at the earnest tone and gratuitous Aristotle name-dropping. Or get a cushy job writing for NRO. Either way, a happy ending.

  53. Spiders

    Kali “Is self defense a crime? Can’t we claim “extreme provocation” like the dudes do all the time?”

    “It was the way he was dressed your honour. I thought he wanted me to assault him.”

  54. Barbara P

    Christopher -

    “People who decry the bra-burners seem genuinely offended. I rarely hear a tone of, “ah, those wacky women! Whaddya gonna do?”. People usually seem angry, and I’ve never understood why people were so attached to underwear.”

    That’s what I’m noticing exactly. It’s as if bra-burning WOULD actually offend people, not just make people think feminists were silly. I’ve talked to someone in real life about this once (a non-identifying feminist). Her response? “I guess it’s because bras are really not as bad as the corsets they had to wear 100 years ago and they were making too big of a deal about it”, almost like it was the “lesser of two evils” and women need to get over it.

    The insult reminds me of people a long time ago saying “your mother wears combat boots”. Like, who cares? Nowadays, there are lots of women wearing combat boots. It’s not really an insult any more. I’m hoping for the day when it’s no longer an insult to not have a bra. But things don’t seem to be going in that direction at all. (The opposite, in fact.)

    And let me reiterate that I’m very much on-board with at least throwing away my bra. I just don’t want to be the only one. I have large, pendulous breasts and I would definitely take huge shit for not having a bra at work or in the general public. I don’t have the kind of courage/fortitude to face that alone.

    IBTP

  55. bellacoker

    Kali “Is self defense a crime? Can’t we claim “extreme provocation” like the dudes do all the time?”

    “It was the way he was dressed your honour. I thought he wanted me to assault him.”

    “Yes, he had been drinking, and seemed very intoxicated. I thought he was working of the courage to ask for the beating that he really wanted. Anyway, he never withdrew his implied consent, so I thought he was into it.”

  56. Satsuma

    Lemur, no need to “blame” yourself. And I think you belong in Feminism 301, for the record.

    Everything negative written about feminists or feminist activism needs to be carefully fact checked. There is a film of women throwing the underwear into a freedom trash can in 1968, no fires at all. So there is film documentation. It is men who perpetuate this, and scared straight women who have always feared being “labeled’ lesbians.

    Assume that if it is negative, it is suspect. If it is empowering, keep searching.
    I am suspicious of ANYTHING men write about feminism, and I do mean anything and everything!

    One of my favorite games is to watch a TV show and I am able to determine within the first 3-10 minutes whether women or men wrote the show about 95% of the time. It is not a TV show, it is about whether men are putting words into women’s mouths or vice verse. Just another aspect of undetected patriarchy at work brainwashing everyone in America. I digress here…. think of it as riffing on the old feminist theme… :-)

    It’s important to know what the woman’s voice is compared to the male dominant voice.

    But I believe the real fear of “bra burning” was that women really would put the make-up and fashion industry out of business. The catholic church still talks in fear about radical feminists; I don’t think women really know how close we are to overthrowing patriarchy, hense it’s hand tipping overreaction to women claiming power over their clothing and bodies.

    We came so close! Scare tactics keep straight women in line, and that’s what the male progaganda machine is doing now with rap music, music videos and child porn. Think about it.

  57. Bruce

    Re: Twisty’s hitting the fact that bra-burning is not a fact. I am not knowledgable on burning or on bras, but I would tend to think that they don’t burn easily. Would need an accelerant.

    In any event, you would think that there would be one photograph from the 60s or 70s of bra burnings. After all, these were supposedly demonstrations. There are plenty of photographs of lots of demonstrations of various sorts and for various causes. Yet the bra-burning image is the one in your mind, not the one that you saw, because you didn’t. The fact that you did NOT (meaning all of us did NOT) ever see such an image makes it harder, not easier, to defeat the myth, because each of us is the author of the image in our own heads.

    Replace bra burning with any other favorite urban or non-urban legend: peace activists in the 60s and 70s spitting on returning soldiers from Vietnam, which occurred at most extremely rarely and probably never. Ever see a photograph, an arrest for assault? No. If you recall an visual image of such an incident, the image is one you created in your head (after descriptions, references, discussions, etc. of this urban legend.) Have you heard a returning Vet say, “I got spat on 12 hours after my transport plane landed at SFO from Japan, June 12, 1969?” No.

  58. Crowfoot

    mir: Areolae of societal collapse

    This should be a band name!

    Areolae of Societal Collapse, playing at the Commodore Ballroom this Saturday.

    Short form: “I’m not a bra-burning feminist” = “I’m a radical feminist, not the fun kind” Accent on the NOT FUN heh. (thanks, Andrea Dworkin RIP)

    I’ve often wondered if what’s so potentially threatening/offensive about women burning their bras has to do with it being an act of rebellion and high defiance of the pornulation of women. I mean, what are women anyways, if not plucked, hair-died, high-heeled, shaved, contained/contorted, embra’ed? Why, too much like a human being.

    Who was it here that used to refer to feminine clothing as “drag”? Yeah, that.

  59. RebelRebel

    I guess I’m not the only one who was a little disappointed when I found out that the bra burning thing was an urban myth. I always thought it sounded kinda badass, and symbolically throwing a bra in the trash seems a little weak by comparison (don’t get me wrong, though, participating in those protests took big brass ovaries, no matter how you look at it). I guess I’ve just never seen what’s so pernicious about that myth, aside from its falsity. I can see how it could, as Twisty points out, be characterized by anti-feminists as “half-naked women chucking their underwear onto a bonfire like crazed savages,” but isn’t any strong action taken by feminists characterized similarly?

    I think the bra burning myth might have taken off precisely because it was such a strong symbol of feminists’ desire to attack the very foundations of culturally constructed “femininity.” It was actually a better symbol than the ones being provided by the movement. And if it was used to scare people who were heavily invested in the status quo? Well, they were right to be scared.

    Or, to sum this post up in one sentence: If you’re going to throw a bra in the trash, why not go ahead and burn the motherfucker too?

  60. ginmar

    Bruce, there have been vets who said exactly that. Problem is, vets were not sent home via civilian airports. Oh, yeah, and vets were often especially anti-war themselves. There was a substantial anti-war movement in the military at the time that was just as repressed as the spitting myth was promoted.

    There’s also the fact that former ‘real’ soldiers of ‘real’ wars were often contemptuous of the Viet Nam soldiers, especially when they allied themselves with the anti-war movement.

    Who would it make more sense to conclude did what spitting that actually occured? Old soldiers who were conservative, devoted to the war, and might have access to military airfields? Or the hippies who knew soldiers were potential allies?

    Hm.

    And count me in for burning some bras. They’re designed to make your tits look bigger for male titilation, not for your comfort or support. Fuck ‘em.

  61. Kristina B

    Wait, wait. This is nothing compared to what they published last November, which I had a visceral reaction to.

    As I said back then, I do no think the Daily Texan would have published an article that was equally demeaning to, say, a racial or religious minority.

  62. Joolya

    I’ve never seen “reverted” used that way – twice!
    Ah, turgid undergraduate prose. It reverts me right back to the late 90s, a more modest, more innocent time.

  63. Jezebella

    Kristina B., that little turd-wipe has at least one thing right: “What’s not sexy is feminism.”

    “History major” indeed.

  64. Satsuma

    Joolya:
    “Ah, turgid undergraduate prose. It reverts me right back to the late 90s, a more modest, more innocent time.”
    That comment just made me smile a mile :-)

    Ah the long lost by-gone 90s! Give us a decade and we all wax poetic about the good old days. You made my day!

  1. Philosophy Of Fashion « Paperhouse

    [...] Philosophy Of Fashion Published July 16, 2008 Fashion Tags: Aristotle, The Daily Texan I’m taking this columnist’s caution, and only accepting fashion tips from Aristotle this season. He says the twinset-and-pearls look will be huge. Don’t listen to Plato – dude will dress you like a hobag. (Via I Blame The Patriarchy.) [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>