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?
Welcome to the 40th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival. I am your stunning hostess, Queen of Thorns, “QoT” to my friends and “single-handed destroyer of progressive NZ politics” to my trolls.
I’m entirely enamoured of the fact that 40 in Roman numerals is XL, so I’m putting our plus-size Antipodean bloggers up first:
New study shows correlation between fatness and selling one’s soul to Satan
Definatalie writes about re-learning her love of cycling. sleepydumpling at Fat Heffalump talks about Why I Don’t Diet and Fixing the Relationship with Food. Bri at Fat Lot of Good sees that fat-shaming is now getting aimed at four-year-olds to the extent some are developing a fear of food.
sleepydumpling is on a crusade, people. A crusade for all super-fatties, deathfats, people who just cannot find clothes in their size for love nor money. Warning: utter fuckwittery in the comments. Remember, fatshion is activism. And no, fat acceptance will not in fact kill you.
There’s been discussion lately about the role of the fatosphere on people’s perceptions and lives. Dr Samantha Thomas has done a for-real ivory-tower-shaking academic paper on how the fatosphere proactively challenges fat stigma, and sleepydumpling covers the same topic in Breaking Down Fat Stigma: Shame. Sonya at Lipmag was one of the interviewees for Dr Thomas’ paper.
The body plays a huge (BOOM BOOM!) role in a lot of feminist discussion, and things always get good and heated around one fact in particular: pregnancy and how you are probably Doing It Rong right this minute.
You read a book while pregnant? You’re gonna DIE!!!
Feminethicist posts a quick note about double standards around scars – especially stretch marks. Aussie MP Andrew Laming fights the good fight for homebirths. Bluebec confronts the notion that any particular way of having babies is “unnatural”.
Pregnancy isn’t always wanted or continued, of course, and that’s why apparently I have to keep explaining that the “right to life” movement are a bunch of wanks with the intellectual honesty of a guppy.
And of course once Junior makes it out into the world it’s all downhill for progressive parents, who simply cannot win. Ever.
Buy this Mozart CD or your baby will sprout wings!
Blue milk continues to post on her presentation on feminist parenting. Part 4 covers “what is feminist parenting?” and Part 5 looks at the difficulties with being a feminist parent. She also talks about the idea that some parents are too sexy to breastfeed – and provides a challenge with a follow-up post on glamorous images of breastfeeding. Another post discusses pro-feminist fathers.
Breastfeeding also shows up as a really nifty shorthand for “crazy woman” in the Game of Thrones series, as discussed at Hoyden About Town.
Bee of a Certain Age talks about learning to love after having her children.
Our kids just aren’t getting a break: Lessons to be Learned covers the Toddlers and Tiaras phenomenon and blue milk looks at high fashion’s role in sexualising girls. Feminethicist has been having some fun challenging the heteronormativity when people play joke-matchmaker with babies.
Unsurprisingly, I did not take kindly to Family First’s insinuations that some families are just “obviously” worse than others.
For further reading, Mindy at Hoyden About Town has reviewed The 21st Century Motherhood Movement.
Where does a lot of this crap come from? Our wonderful media, of course.
This just in: reading mainstream media could be the reason you’re really angry all the time
Feminethicist is just thrilled by a camera app that makes your romantic partner look tolerable again. I have a slight issue with bra companies’ media releases being treated as scientific fact, with a sprinkling of obesity panic on top.
LudditeJourno, posting at The Hand Mirror, covers Michael bloody Lhaws’ preference for referring to poor brown people as “feral” and coleytangerina at The Lady Garden gets freaked out by news of a “cougar attack” … then a tad depressed.
Emma at Lip asks where the strong women are in literature. Kate Barker discusses anti-feminist imagery. Cara at Life is a feminist issue talks about our media ban on reporting suicide, and whether that’s really looking all that effective.
MJ at Kiwiana (inked) tells Stuff where they can shove their scare quotes when reporting on domestic violence.
Time for something a bit more positive:
Retrospective: awesome women being awesome
Penguin Unearthed talks about Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir as part of her Travelling Feminist posts – here’s another on Norway. The Hoydens share the news that Sensei Keiko Fukuda has become the only woman ever granted the 10th degree black belt in judo. Double Antandre talks about Nancy Wake.
Another big issue of the past month has been identity, especially given Google’s being douchebags about what’s considered a “real” name (all the more aggravating because it’s based on needing “real” demographics to sell to shitbox marketers).
I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine
Chally talks about the kinds of history that go into building identity. blue milk passes on information on the My Name is Me project created in response to Google+ being douches. Giovanni talks about Google+, identity and cyberpunk.
Where does a lot of identity come from? Our “race”, social construct that it is, and religion, and culture, and all other kinds of pretty touchy issues.
Nothing witty to put here
Mindmadeup asks if Australia is a racist nation. Chally confronts racism at the bus stop. stargazer discusses how the “default is male” concept extends to commentary about Muslims. stargazer also posted about the start of Ramadan.
Queen Emily at Questioning Transphobia asks “When am I trans?” and when trans people are “real”.
Love and Marriage
In happier news, Rachel is getting hitched! Of course, planning a wedding doesn’t get any easier when you’re a feminist so she’s provided a handy Guide to Feminist Wedding Planning. News With Nipples covers some tragi-comic anti-marriage-equality protests. Hayley at Equal Love Equal Rights posts on marriage equality.
Mr Wainscotting is pleased to announce the launch of Legalise Love, a group looking to get some actual marriage equality happening in NZ. Idiot/Savant has been taking an interest in our MPs’ views on the subject: here he is on Hone Harawira and David Parker (and it’s not good news).
As Chally notes, though, we shouldn’t devalue single women.
Then there’s some perennial issues for feminist bloggers:
stargazer helped produce a session on poverty at the Human Rights Commission’s diversity forum and also blogged her speech from the forum on needing an action plan on human rights. Maia at The Hand Mirror dissects a “game” where privileged people get to pretend to be poor for a while and probably learn some Important Moral Lesson.
Deborah Russell discusses welfare in the Dominion Post.
Rape culture / violence
The Naked Philologist deals in two parts with the subject of teaching problematic material – Can you teach Chrétien without talking about rape? and You might be able to teach Chrétien without talking about rape, but I shan’t.
Deborah talks about the gender pay gap and another Deborah’s predictable privileged attitude towards it. Idiot/Savant covers the Greens’ and CTU’s calling of National’s bluff: if people can just ask labour inspectors to check there’s pay parity in their workplace, maybe we should just start doing that all the time.
And finally, a little collection of random items to fill out your reading.
We can’t stop here, this is bat country!
Blue milk on potentially-problematic vulva-themed art. Geek Feminism on social media protest action. Bluebec on trusting people to make their own decisions. Maia at The Hand Mirror on the cost of being a woman in public. Chally’s thoughts on being “born this way”. A guest post on Geek Feminism about encouraging women’s participation in geekiness. Blogger at the Cast Iron Balcony on how to help the Sylvia Creek anti-logging protesters. Bluebec on polyamory and doing it right. Feminaust posts on listening to sex workers.
That’s all she wrote
Thanks to our lovely submitters, especially Chally and Rebecca who made my job a heck of a lot easier!
The 41st edition of the DUFC will be hosted at A Touch of The Crazy. As we still seem to be having issues with blogcarnival, send your submissions directly to stef_thomp [at] hotmail [dot] com. We’re four years in and going strong but we need your help to keep it awesome!
The list of DUFC contributors is woefully out of date, but feel free to peruse it in the meantime while I get some well-earned coffee.
So Stuff has a breathless report about how tits are getting bigger.
Now before you tit-bearers get your [brandname] panties in a twist, let me reassure you that these articles are Serious Journalism and not at all just slightly-reworded press releases from … who was it again?
… D cups and bigger accounting for nearly half of Bendon bras
… according to Bendon figures.
… Bendon spokeswoman Rachael Parkin
The 2010 story, wonderfully, doesn’t mention Bendon at all. But … oops:
“A D size 10 years ago was considered wow,” says braologist Carol Rashleigh.
Who was it they quoted back in 2009? Oh, right:
Fayreform “braologist” Carol Rashleigh
Of the “subsidiary of Bendon” Fayreforms, not the Staffordshire Fayreforms.
The 2011 rehash attempts, one assumes, to provide “balance” by also mentioning Triumph, which … doesn’t really make it better. in terms of that whole “this is just a fucking advertorial” thing.
Because here’s a few minor problems with taking Bendon’s marketers’ word for anything to do with the size of Kiwi knockers:
1. Bendon themselves will tell you that most NZ bra-wearers are wearing the wrong size. Usually a back size too big and ergo a cup size too small.
Bendon will especially emphasise this if you complain to their customer service department about continually being unable to find comfortable, consistently-sized bras, even when you rely on the advice of their “braologists”, most of whom incidentally have no fucking idea how to fit a bra on a fat person.
2. Bendon stock a ridiculously narrow range of sizes, and even slightly towards the edges of the bell curve you may have to count yourself lucky to find anything, which then feeds into the following:
3. “Sales figures” are reeeeeally interesting when you consider that small back/small cup bras can cost as little as $20, and larger back/larger cups of “odd” sizes like 10G or 18A, when you can even find them, will likely be part of the “plus-size” range, usually hidden at the back of the shop, and cost $50 if you are lucky.
Point being, as a fat woman I have 6 bras (and 2 emergency ill-fitting ones for when the laundry doesn’t dry.) I buy bras when I have to, and I can usually buy one, two at a time if I save my pennies (and I’m damn well off).
You think maybe those sales figures are just slightly skewed by the fact that Bendon provides fuck-all for “unusual” sizes and prices “unusual”-sized people out of the market? (If the Obesity Epidemic is real, there must be demand, and capitalism tells me that demand will be answered by supply … *crickets*)
And that’s not even touching on the thinly-veiled “OMG OBESITY EPIDEMIC/BUT AT LEAST THE CHICKS ARE HOT” dichotomy. Because there’s no other reason, if people are buying more larger-sized bras, they could possibly have to do so.
I mean, “vanity sizing” is toooootally a myth. No one would ever think to make the Ds just a bit smaller so more women can feel validated by patriarchy to have bigger knockers (and seriously, why is it ALWAYS Ds? Or DDs? I’m looking at you, Letters to Penthouse.)
And our population certainly isn’t getting bigger simply out of ageing and changes in the ethnic makeup of our society.
Nope, I’m convinced. Good on Stuff, and TV3 before them, for providing such awesomely insigtful
free advertising for Bendon (and Triumph!) analysis.
PS. No, I will not try Kirkcaldie & Staines. Bendon may have shameless marketers and pet journalists but at least I’ve never seen their salespeople happily gossip to the DomPost about the “freaks” they’ve had to deal with.