[Ill-fitting] bras are tools of the patriarchy

This is a great post on some of the basic reasons that bra fitting is a feminist issue.  It predominantly affects women, but not all women have breasts and not all people with breasts are women – and those people thus outside “the norm” have an even worse time of things!

I just want to take one teensy-tiny issue with this bit:

Unsupportive bras mean bouncing and ligament pain, which discourages women from physical activity, thereby keeping them less fit. Putting it like that makes it sound like a huge conspiracy, but

Let me stop you at “but”, friend.  No, I’m not saying there literally is a smoke-filled room somewhere where former Skulls & Bones members twirl their moustaches with glee over blueprints for The Most Uncomfortable Bra Ever, slapping each other on the back and saying “they’ll never be able to jump rope in THIS!”

But let’s think about it this way.  Capitalism requires a steady stream of workers.  Workers have to be born and raised.  Currently, a lot of the birthing and raising is done by people who are firmly identified as “women”.

(Just look at how much of the kerfuffle around marriage equality was that same-sex couples “can’t” make babies, or how men who choose to become pregnant are, well, [insert transphobic hatespeech here].)

That birthing-and-raising of productive little workers is unpaid work.  It’s not even viewed as work.  It’s considered completely demeaning for the non-birthing class (“men”) to perform it (though they will be lionized as heroes for making the “sacrifice” of taking time out to raise their own children).

Why the fuck would a group which makes up just over half of the population put up with this?

Enter bras.  Enter beauty standards.  Enter conflicting, YET VERY VERY IMPORTANT messages beamed into our brains daily about the “right” way to behave, to look.  Enter a situation where skilled, educated people are walking around with Impostor Syndrome because it’s so ingrained to believe that they’re doing something wrong.

(Enter also rape culture, which reinforces the idea that you can never ever feel safe; enter antichoice rhetoric, which is one facet of a whole system dedicated to telling you you don’t really know your own mind and need others to make decisions for you; enter economic disadvantages which push you towards heterosexual cohabitation.

Enter a neverending roundabout of diet advice, childrearing advice, all underscored with the notion that if you’re doing it wrong – and believe me, you ARE doing it wrong – you are basically a completely worthless individual who’s letting the entire species down.)

To completely appropriate/paraphrase a wise thing I read somewhere, you can’t politicise people who are starving, because they’ve got more important things on their minds.  Modern capitalism/patriarchy has worked to make sure that even when women aren’t starving, even when they’ve got huge amounts of privilege, their minds are on things which they’ve been convinced are more important.  They’re getting depression and eating disorders … not rocking the boat.

Why do you think the good old chestnuts about hairy-legged lesbians have such currency?  Because the people who refuse to shave their legs and enter heterosexual relationships and produce the next generation of good little productive workers are threatening the whole system.

It’s not a conspiracy of moustachioed men in a bunker.  But what other word do we have for such a complex, deliberate system of coercing an entire population?

Original link via Good Bras are a Feminist Issue.


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