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In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month: History of Bra Burning

As many of you know, October is a very important month… no, not Halloween. Breast Cancer Awareness Month! It’s an entire month dedicated to raising awareness for a disease that affects one in eight women in their lifetime. So pull out your pink and show some support for the many women (and men!) that are affected by breast cancer. In honor of Pinktober, I thought I’d give a little history lesson on the myth of bra burning.

Here we go, folks:

The first comment I heard when I told someone I was taking “Intro to Women and Gender Studies” was: “Oh, you going to burn your bra now?” If only I knew how to respond… Since then, I’ve learned the truth behind bra burning and I thought I’d share it with you: it’s a big, ol’ myth.

At the 1968 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Women’s Liberation Movement formed a protest of everything the pageant was built on: judging women as objects and not as people. As a part of their protest, activists marched along the boardwalk with signs condemning the pageant on its portrayal of women. One of their means of protest was through “freedom trash cans,” in which the protesters would throw in items they saw as oppressive: girdles, high heels, hair curlers, copies of Playboy magazine, and even—you guessed it—bras. It has been reported that the protesters originally tried to get a permit to set fire to the “freedom trash cans,” however, it was denied due to the risk of danger. Therefore, the act of throwing their bras, girdles and heels in this “freedom trash can” was merely symbolic and was never actually set on fire.

So there you go! The next time someone calls you a “crazy, bra-burning feminist,” you can correct them by saying, “Sorry, but no. Bra burning is a myth and I just think women should have full political, economic and social rights as a man does.” BOOM. Mic drop.

Furthermore, I’d like to point out that at the Miss America Protest in 1968, activists crowned a live sheep on the boardwalk. Fun fact.

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