13 October 2013

Bra Burning, 40 Years On...

I stumbled upon the image below on Facebook today:

It appeared on the Timeline of a FB friend under the commentary:
My tatas are only free behind closed doors; to subject the masses to public freedom of my tatas is a crime against humanity I do not wish to perpetrate. Carry on.
I am investigating the possibility of relocating to Brazil in the next year. This graphic, the campaign it advertises and my FBF's commentary are illustrative of an aspect of U.S. (perhaps Western?) culture that has become more and more distasteful to me. 

She goes on to say:
I have always said that IF I had the body of a Playboy playmate, I would show it off, too - it is just not a big deal to me - except for the fact that my poor body is a poor comparison, so for the benefit of my fellow humans, it will stay covered.
 "Support Breast cancer"?  Surely what's meant is "Support breast cancer research"? And why is "breast" capitalized?

And what is the etymology of "tata"?  Take a deep breath and then check out this web page:  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tata%27s

So the group-think in my home culture is "Here's one day where females are permitted, encouraged even (!) to take off their bras. We're broadcasting this permission through social media -- you might not feel free to do so otherwise."

But lest this thing get too out of hand, i.e., enliven too much Freedom, we'll use a kinda cute-and-funny slang term, 'tata', and we won't actually show "free" breasts in the picture and we'll
use a model with a body type that conforms to the stereotypical, male-defined-and-approved size, age, shape and color waving a Victoria's-secret version of the bra-shackle over her head.

The very idea of designating a day to "set the tatas free" presupposes 364 days of not-free.

I winced to read my FBF's follow-up comment because she's a smart woman, politically sophisticated and (usually) a reliable source of rational, well-informed analysis of current events. She is among the "big brains" in my FB circle. It hurt to see her vibrant, powerful self-identity compromised by the particular brand of misogyny that taints American culture. A call for solidarity in the campaign to find a cure for breast cancer was all it took to uncover her internalization of the self-hating indoctrination that confronts women in this so-called civilized nation.

The campaign is not about "showing off" our bodies, breasts in particular; and yet, a bare female breast is so widely viewed as exhibitionism that arguments about the inappropriateness of breast-feeding in public rage on, in this free country, in the 21st century.

My two-psrt Comment on my FBF's Timeline reads
Seems like the further we go toward Civilized, the less free we feel in our bodies. Where else but in the West would this promo even make sense?
...it's only in a culture where body image is defined and shaped by the likes of Playboy that this kind of ad makes sense... 
Yeah, I want to check out Brazil. My limited investigation suggests that while strains of machismo and misogyny are undoubtedly alive and well in Brazil -- Brazil being, of course, counted among the "civilized" nations on Earth -- there is much less anxiety about female breasts. It's an anxiety that, frankly, after over half a century of living in a female body complete with breasts, I'm ready to leave behind. Sometimes I wear a bra; sometimes I don't; and it's never a question of Freedom.