History is plagued with stories and episodes of the rise and downfall of men. Almost everyone from their respective countries is aware of what their history is or what their heritage is. However there is a certain form of history that is often not shared with us, is often misread and just generally very misunderstood. The media and other sources of information broadcasting are often to be blamed for this. Manipulating tales, presenting a distorted version of the real event and often promoting fake news is something that has been very prevalent since the past.
The Bra Burning movement is one such example, it is a myth popularized and vulgarized since the past so many decades. No one even knows the real movement! I have often heard statements like so, “I am a feminist but not the bra-burning types,” or “Don’t yell at me! Damn it! You bra burning feminist type of woman!” and so many more and I laugh, no I guffaw at them. I feel very sad for those who make loud noises without any truth to it; it is very sad how ignorant you can get.
But this platform is for respecting one another including the women who have faced the tribulations of their times and era and for them and for the sake of our movement it is important for me to give you this lesson of the feminist heritage. I use the word ‘heritage’ because these values, morals, strengths that they have taught our generation is nothing more than an heirloom, one that we intend to pass onto the next generation.
The bra burning movement is the wrong terminology first of all, sit back and sip tea and soak up as much knowledge as you can. The correct terminology used for this movement was actually ‘Miss America Protest’ organised outside the venue of Miss America 1969. The pioneers of the movement were Robin Morgan, Carol Hanisch, Shulamith Firestone and Pam Allen who were also the founders of the New York Radical Women Organisation; they wanted to bring attention to their movement. They believed that pageants upheld the restrictive and singular notions of beauty in the society and propagated the objectification of women. Robin Morgan’s reason for choosing the pageant was the following:
“Miss America was chosen as a target for a number of reasons: it has always been a lily-white, racist contest; the winner tours Vietnam, entertaining the troops as a ‘Murder Mascot; the whole gimmick is one commercial shillgame to sell the sponsor’s products. Where else could one find such a perfect combination of American values—racism, militarism, sexism—all packaged in one ‘ideal symbol,’ a woman.”
The movement in fact involved a freedom bin in which bras, nylons, girdles etc. were dumped to critique the modern restrictive beauty standards. It wanted to challenge the social expectations and assert their right to be comfortable in their own bodies. However certain draft cards were burned during the movement which connected the ‘Bra dumping’ to ‘burning’ eventually calling it ‘bra burning’. The leader of the movement, Robin Morgan, however denied these allegations firmly. But other press pieces did popularize the bra burning including the Atlantic City Press.
The myth or the rumour of the bra burning trivialized the entire movement. Instead of seeming to be empowering, strengthening and mobilising the movement was trivialized as silly, foolish and insulting. This mainly happened maybe because most of the media companies and organization had male editors and journalist and maybe they had misogynistic socialization that made them supress this movement by conflating false pieces of news.
The movement spoke against pay disparity, racism, reproductive rights etc. and instead it was quickly squashed by this inherent misogyny that refused to take into the consideration the oppression of women.
During today’s times, the third wave feminists are often called angry, loud and annoying and it is funny because the same tactic is being used here as was used in the 1960s. Instead of noticing our fight against rape culture, stringent gender roles and instead of recognizing what we aim to do we are being distracted from our paths by elements who call us angry and annoying and sometimes even without motives. I have often heard this with regards to the first world women who are often called out for spreading false news and making noise over nothing. I refuse this. I mean if there was no voice to make then why do we have cases like that of Harvey Weinstein and Larry Nassar? And maybe you would like to take a look at this video to understand the graveness of the situation.
We can give you a million and one reason for the anger and you can squash it a numerous times but this movement is ready to stay.