Bra-burning feminists: what’s the real truth?

The truth, only the truth about bra-burning feminists. Did feminist activists really burn bras? Beyond any myth and legend, a reconstruction of historical facts can help us shed light on what still remains a common thread linking the narrative of today’s feminism to the world of underwear. Specifically, a lingerie piece: the bra. Bbc.com takes stock of the situation and retraces the story of the famous “Freedom Trash Can”, a bin that (fortunately) never really caught fire…

Bra-burning feminist: did they really exist?

On 7th September 1968, a group of women gathered to protest against a Miss America beauty pageant in New Jersey. According to BBC, protesters held signs with statements such as “Everybody is beautiful,” “Let’s judge ourselves as people,” “Can make-up hide the wounds of our oppression?”. They were responding not only to the pageant and its antiquated, misogynistic attitude toward women and beauty. But also to how the United States, as a whole, treated women. The protest would feature a “Freedom Trash Can” into which women could throw away things that oppressed them, such as bras, lipsticks, high heels, makeup, and many other items. What stuck in the public consciousness about this day was the image of the “bra-burning feminists” – something that paradoxically never actually happened. In fact, officials asked the women not to set the trash can on fire because the wooden boardwalk was flammable.

While the protest may not have done much to change the nature of the Miss America pageant, it inspired many women to express their opinion on issues affecting them and helped to spread the conversation about feminism and women’s rights. 52 Years later, none of the women who took part in the protest could have imagined that their protest would still have a resonance.

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