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Bras: Symbols of Oppression, or Expression of Femininity?

In learning about the history of the bra and its run-ins with feminists, we’ve heard that many feminists are anti-bra and view it as a symbol of oppression. Their reasons are myriad, but they view bras in both a metaphorical and very physical way as a means of reaffirming the subjugated status of women in society. Many other women, however, hold an opposite view. These women think that wearing a bra is empowering, and finding the right bra helps them look and feel sexy and confident. Where are you on the spectrum? Do you think of bras as symbols of oppression or garment of empowerment?

Bras in the Feminist Philosophy
Bras hold a special role in the feminist philosophy, typically as a vilified and easily identifiable symbol of the “inferior” role that women inhabit in society. Feminists hate bras for a variety of reasons. Some feminist women feel that bras objectify women; making us sex objects for the benefit of men. They feel that this diminishes our power and identity. Objectification is a huge issue for all feminists; they feel that objectification leads to an insufficient regard for a person’s personality, or even sentience. i.e. “I’m not a person to him, I’m just a pair of breasts.”

Feminists have other reasons to dislike bras. Bras are restrictive garments, and women wear them to conform with society’s views of the ideal of beauty. The idea of restriction for the sake of conforming with society is anathema to many feminists, both from the restriction point of view and from the conforming element. Some women view wearing a bra as akin to the foot binding tradition practiced in Ancient China; a pointless and potentially damaging practice for the sole purpose of conforming with society. And these are just a few of the reasons why some feminists find bras so abhorrent; there are many more reasons that a large number of feminists eschew bras.

Bras as an Expression of Femininity
There’s a flip side to the coin; while many feminists view bras as oppressive, many other women view bras as empowering, confidence-boosting and means to express their femininity. When you find that perfect bra that makes you feel just amazing and look great, don’t you have a boost of confidence? Pair it with the right outfit and you feel like you can conquer the world. This type of attitude is the complete opposite of how feminists feel; women actually become empowered by owning a good bra and the confidence that it gives them in how they look.

Bras can also be expressions of femininity and sexuality. When you wear a sexy bra and underwear under your regular clothes, don’t you feel a bit more sexy and powerful? And when you wear a sexy bra under a sexy outfit, you know your significant other appreciates the way you look, and it feels good! Feminists are worried about objectification, but other women utilize the power that a bra offers and use it to transform themselves and their lives into a more powerful way of being.

Where do you fall on the scale? Do you identify with the feminists, who view the bra as a symbol of oppression? Or are you a woman who believes the bra can be a powerful garment that can help you look great and express your femininity?

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