Feminist Activities Have Changed

Normally, I am a fairly big fan of The Chive. They have some pretty cool photo entries, including my personal favorite. . . Cat Saturday! However, last week this photo post (that may not be appropriate for work or where children are present) really got me thinking.

The Chive, in addition to hilarious cats, could be coded as pretty dang sexist.  Daily features include “Hot Girls in the Middle of Nowhere,” “There are Sexy Chivers Among Us,” and more. Usually I just ignore these and focus on the funny cats.  What can I say?  I love the weird things cats do, haha. But with a title like “Wearing a bra is 7 years bad luck” I was sucked in.  And this is where the thinking came into play.

This post features women who have (in their words) burned their bras and submitted bra-less photos of themselves for The Chive. So, here is what I’m wondering. . . When did bra burning become something coded as “sexy” rather that something coded as “screw the patriarchy”?  When did wearing a bra become an act of defiance?  When did it become the “unsexy” thing to do?

One thing that really stood out to me in this particular post was that a lot of the women were saying “I burned it for The Chive.”  Taking something that has been traditionally associated with being a feminist and being against institutional patriarchy and saying that you did it for “the man”?

Yes, I know that feminists today don’t typically burn their bras (I certainly don’t.  Those suckers are expensive!).  So really, it’s more of the attitude, rather than the activity that I think needs some examination. Why are people doing this? Why the shift from trying to tear down institutional patriarchy to pandering to it?

Why do you do what you do?

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Socioknit
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 11:23:59

    I have never seen The Chive ( I guess I will have to take a look), but your post brings up a good point about the nature of contemporary feminism. I am not the only feminist who believes that the concept of feminism has been usurped by many other structures and social entities, that have then appropriated feminist language for the use other tihigs, such as of “lifestyle marketing. I hear this often when I see commercials for cosmetic surgery procedure that are typically directed at women, such as “lifestyle lift”. These medical advertisements woo women by telling them that it is somehow feminine and empowering to get surgery to alter the body. Meanwhile, actual feminism is taking place with women like Betty Dodson (author of “Sex for One”, who stoically posed in a beautiful black and white photo, topless and bra-less, holding a vibrator over her head (actual sexual empowerment).

    Feminist language and themes have also been turned into sexual gratification for heterosexual males such as with lesbianism and female bisexuality. Women have to be on guard that their sexuality and identity do not get stolen away to serve the interests of the status quo, which still supports structural patriarchy. I worry that The Chive may be doing just that by making the bra issue “sexy” rather than empowering.

    I like to encourage feminists to never take off the critical lens, even towards “feminist” stuff. Because feminism has really gone global, it has become very fragmented; some feminists support porn, others condemn it for example. Even issues such as female genital cutting do not have feminist consensus. Be careful to stay critical; saying you are a feminist today is like saying you are an atheist. You might not have anything else in common. :)

    Reply

    • Rachel A. Hanson
      Jun 14, 2012 @ 11:21:11

      Thank you for your comment :). What I notice more in advertising is more of feminist language being used to promote products that are traditional “women’s products” (i.e., cleaning products, clothes, etc.) Women embracing their inner-glutton by having Boston Cream Pie flavored yogurt (http://current.com/shows/infomania/88941392_sarah-haskins-in-target-women-yogurt-edition.htm). Saying that you are buying Cover Girl products “because I’m worth it.”

      And my main concern with this Chive post (and others like it. This one isn’t the only one) is that it is turning what could be an empowering act into a pandering to white male heterosexuality. Sure, take your bra off if you want to. But don’t do it for The Chive. Don’t do it for anything other than yourself. Because ultimately I think that doing things because you have made the conscious decision to do what is best for you is what feminism is all about. Wearing a bra, not wearing a bra; pursuing a career or staying home with your kids (or both); wearing dresses all the time rather than pants… none of it really matters as long as you are doing it of your own initiative and not because society tells you that it is the appropriate choice.

      Reply

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