How Effective Were the Bra Burners?

“The bra-burning days of yesteryear gave so much yet get no thanks.” The Times Educational Supplement. (April 9, 2010 ): 613 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2016/11/13.

In Steven Jones’ opinion piece, the bra (or rather, the brassiere aflame) is mentioned as a symbol of feminism in the early 70s. Rather than the bra as a symbol of female oppression, Jones focuses instead on the impact the bra burners had on feminism in the modern day. He comes to the disappointing conclusion that although the feminist movement kindled passions for generating equality for women, “bra bonfires” caused no real change in the status quo of male-dominated, high-paying careers. To support this claim, he cited anecdotes of his intelligent female students, who had the potential to become lawyers, bosses, or doctors, becoming secretaries, nurses, and para-legals. After a show of hands, he found his class had not heard of the bra burning protests. Students were reluctant to support the feminist movement because they perceived feminists to be “butch, man-hating harridan[s] in overalls”.

Today, feminism has taken on a more positive image, thanks to many celebrities speaking out in support of the movement. However, there remain subgroups within the feminist community that are distrustful and skeptical of men and blame them for sexualizing women’s bodies; these groups contribute to the “man-hating” label that repels people from joining the feminist movement. My sister was one of these people, rejecting the feminist club at my high school, the Feminist Forum, that she found embodied these negative stereotypes. She attended one of their meetings and saw it consisted of club members complaining about restrictive dress codes that prevented them from wearing what they wanted. They painted boys in a negative light by labeling them as sex-crazed; why should girls have to be punished for the boys’ inability to control themselves? During any other week, the Feminist Forum may well have discussed more urgent and encompassing issues such as sexual assault in the workplace, rape culture, and unequal pay for women. But my sister was so annoyed with the Feminist Forum, what she views as “a circle of entitled girls,” that she never attended a meeting again. Feminism still battles with self-proclaimed “feminists” who damage the reputation of feminism by reducing it to a battle flag for relatively insignificant causes such as allowing crop tops and booty shorts in the school dress code.


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