Standing Up For Feminism And Burning Bras In The New Revolution

Burning bras in the new revolution to stand up for feminism

Remember the days when women were fired for being pregnant? Girls refused admission to colleges because they were female? Separate employment sections in the paper for males and females?

Neither do I. History tends to whitewash or misrepresent the plight of females throughout history. Bra burning is a myth that emerged during a protest at the Miss America contest in the fall of 1968. Women were rebelling against the idea of being put on a pedestal to please men based on their beauty. 

The “Freedom Trash Can” set in front of the contest encouraged women to burn items that were deemed “instruments of torture,” including high heels, girdles, and yes, bras- among other things.  

Bras are too expensive to burn these days, and I still resent having to wear them! High heels are also another pet peeve of mine, the injustice of it all! Can you imagine men having to wear uncomfortable footwear to the office every day?

I asked my co-worker why she wears high heels, and she said she wants a promotion. It made sense in a sad sort of way. Are we still trying to please men with our beauty? Thankfully, you can be creative with the plethora of styles available today, but the “instruments of torture” are alive and well.

From not being able to vote to not being able to control our reproductive system, the rights of women have always been under attack. Burning bras was a good start, but how do we redefine feminism in the Twenty-First century?

The Roots of Feminism

Feminism is described as happening in waves- the first being advocating for the right to vote. The second encompassed the bra-burning stage of equal pay, gender equality, and reproductive rights.

In the third wave of the nineties, Gen Xers got into the mix with female punk rockers taking up the mantle and riding the anger generated by the Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court Nomination. (I believe you, Anita!)

"Well-behaved women seldom make history." - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

The fourth wave is where we sit now, bringing people of color, trans rights, and the #Me Too movement into the spotlight. The crusade is now being waged on social media, bringing a whole new generation into the fight for female equality.

The F Word

Miriam Webster defines feminism as “a belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed through organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Feminism, though, has been misrepresented by political opportunists to keep women in their “place.” Labeling them as man-haters and hippies with a shaving problem have made women fearful of identifying as a feminist. 

"When a man gives his opinion, he's a man; when a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch." - Bette Davis

I personally don’t get the antagonism towards feminism. I see a similarity with people’s disdain for unions, which really baffles me. Historically, unions are the reason we have five-day work weeks, eight-hour workdays, and lunch breaks.

Generally, union employees are happier, more productive, and have less turnover. Yet some fasten on to one segment of unionism they dislike, such as political contributions, to blow up the whole thing. With Feminism, throwing pejorative labels around muddies the water and tries to taint the movement by shaming women.

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

Men generally loathe to associate with Feminism, maybe it’s a macho thing? But men have mothers and daughters and sisters, so what's the problem? It’s infuriating to me that we still must fight to get paid as much as a man for the same job.

Splintering the movement because of internal and external pressure has made it less effective, and political weaponizing of women’s rights is in ascendance.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” - Malala Yousafzai 

Because there are so many fronts being fought on the war on women, the message has been diluted and subjected to different forms of misinformation and misinterpretation.

We need to join forces and bring a massive educational campaign to rally people to the cause of women, not just in the United States, but around the world.  (I’m looking at you, National Organization of Women!)

The Future is Female 

Here’s hoping! In the future, there will be no more glass ceilings. Women in leadership positions will bring a counter to the more aggressive male-dominated energies that have far too long ruled the world. Gender equality brings with it a balance between the Yin and the Yang, putting us on a more stable playing field.

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ― Gloria Steinem

This slogan catches a lot of slack for being anti-male, but that misses the point. A female future is a world that no longer is shackled to the male-dominated hierarchy in business, politics, and academia. A more inclusive world is a better world, bringing all flavors of womanhood to the forefront of history in harmony with our male counterparts.

The attack on Roe vs. Wade

Texas has recently banned abortion on fetuses with a detectable heartbeat, a time when most women don’t even realize they’re pregnant.

It also allows anyone who helps women get an abortion to be sued (!) Most likely this will be under review by the Supreme Court in the near future, but their unwillingness to step in and block this is troubling.

And don’t think this will be isolated to Texas- if successful, many red states will use it as a roadmap for their own abortion bans.

How can we still be fighting for this, fifty years after the Supreme Court ruled women have a right to privacy regarding an abortion? If men could get pregnant- abortion would be a SACRAMENT! Although I personally could never have an abortion, I would never impose or legislate my beliefs on another woman.

To think women will once again have to consider using a wire hanger to abort is outrageous in the Twenty-First Century. And because the wealthy will be able to find ways around this, the law disproportionately affects minorities and the poor.

Stand up for Feminism

My fiancé asked me if I was a feminist, and I hesitated. Will he think less of me, or think I am a man-hater addicted to Lifetime television? And that hesitation is where a lot of women are. They know it's a good thing but find it hard to define and stand up for.

I told him that feminism for me means equal pay for equal work. And at that time, it did. Since then, it has evolved to encompass the never-ending fight for female reproductive rights, our LBGTQ sisters, and empowering women in underdeveloped countries. None of us are free unless all of us are.

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” ― Audre Lorde

The most powerful tool we have today is voting. Research the candidates and find the one who most encompasses your worldview. I honor the men and women who gave their lives for me to live in a free society every time I go to the ballot box. Run for city council, vote more women into office, and most importantly, don’t remain silent when our freedoms are under attack. 

Sheila is an LA-based writer and actress working in the Television industry.

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