Pocochina’s Weblog

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on bra-burning

Posted by pocochina on November 27, 2007

I’m truly intrigued by the “bra buring” stereotype.  On face, it’s just amusing.  I thought we were too busy undermining the American family, becoming communists, killing children and practicing Dark Magic.  Maybe we, like, use the bra-fire to burn the runes for our ball-busting spells.*  I must not be invited to the Cool Feminist Rituals.

And on another level, it’s like the hairy/lesbian/ugly/old/whatever insult – something that’s not inherently bad, but marks us as women who don’t present in a feminine manner.  It’s my party, and I’ll burn my lingerie if I want to!  (While I’m on the subject, I know I should be pissed about the homophobic patriarchial paradigm, but mostly I can’t keep myself from laughing when someone uses “lesbian” as an insult.  Seriously?  That’s supposed to hurt my feelings?  Then I get mad, ‘cuz nobody talks about my friends like that.)

But on another level, it doesn’t matter how many times we say – all together now! – that the actual bra burning never happened.  The protest at the Miss America pagent was enough.  “Bra burner” symbolizes, to those who would insult and demean feminists, a woman who makes deliberate anti-patriarchal, anti-capitalist choices.

It means that instead of shamefully hiding your ending compliance with the beauty performance, you are asserting your right to stand in the public space to reject it.  Bralessness, in this case, has come to describe someone who publicly, unabashedly, chooses to present as herself, on her own terms.

And burning them!  This rejection doesn’t just hurt people’s feelings!  It’s in a visible, destructive fire, which crackles with energy.  It’s no longer about taking up public space in your Failure to be Feminine, now, it’s about changing the public landscape.  Maybe, the anti-feminist is afraid, some other women will walk by and want to warm their hands by our trash can, and stay for the ‘smores.  It’s a recognition how feminism changes our landscape.

And we’re not just chopping off our hair and burning it, oh, no.  It’s an active rejection of something women are expected to go out and purchase in order to correctly present as “women.”  It’s explicitly anti-capitalist.

Then there’s the sexuality of it.  It’s one less constraint on the female form; one less marker that we are ashamed.

No, bra-burning never actually happened.  But the epithet refers to good things that did happen; things that are happening.  So come warm your hands by our fire.  You’ll pry my royal purple lace 36DD out of my cold, dead hands, but you’ll find me by the ‘smores.  And the Chardonnay.  But mostly the ‘smores.

*I realize this is as far from Wicca and witchcraft as I could get.  Intentionally, because I mean absolutely no disrespect to the religion itself.

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