Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The More Things Change . . .

Feminism hasn't changed much. Back in the '60's, feminists burned their bras. Now they decorate them, fly them on flag poles and sell them in silent auctions. As Kentucky Women: Power, Passion, Politics blog writes,

Cincinnatians are encouraged to decorate bras and drop them off at any Greater Cincinnati Panera Bread location, or the Havana Martini Club downtown on Fifth St. between Race and Vine Sts. Havana Martini Club is offering $4 "Ta-Ta-Tinis" to those dropping off a donation. Panera will provide free pink ribbon bagels to any group that reserves a meeting room to decorate bras*. Donations will be accepted from Oct. 1-Oct. 22.

Now, raising money for breast cancer research is a laudable goal, no question. The means, however -- maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think under garments are meant to be kept under clothes. I also think bras are meant to be worn, not burnt and not decorated. (The only time they should fly from a flag pole is before sunrise, when seized in a fraternity panty raid.)

There was a time when women hid the fact that they had breast cancer. First Lady Betty Ford, thankfully, did much to remove the stigma of the disease by announcing her diagnosis, just weeks after her husband became president. She deserves our gratitude for that.

But decorating and flying bras from flagpoles, it seems to me, crosses the line from promoting awareness of a disease to a sort of exhibitionism. We don't see people who advocate screenings for prostate cancer or colon cancer engage in these stunts, though their diseases are serious and their fundraising goals worthy.

It's a question of means, not ends. Feminists like Gloria Steinem never understood that their means were off-putting to many people who might otherwise agree with them to an extent. Feminists can send me all the ugly emails they like (they just prove my point). If these women really want their message to succeed -- if they really want to forge a consensus -- they will reconsider their tactics.

No comments: