The Truth Is, "Bra-Burning" Feminists Never Actually Burned A Bra

Illustration for article titled The Truth Is, Bra-Burning Feminists Never Actually Burned A Bra

One would assume, since the phrase "bra-burning feminist" exists, that at some point in this nation's history a feminist famously burned a bra. Not so! NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce explains that "bra-burning" is a myth. Oh, the women who gathered on the boardwalk to protest the Miss America pageant in 1968 wanted to burn a bra — and a girdle, and a mop, and an issue of Playboy magazine, — stuff they called "instruments of female torture." They threw all of it into a big garbage can. "We had intended to burn it, but the police department, since we were on the boardwalk, wouldn't let us do the burning," Carol Hanisch, one of the organizers of the protest, tells NPR. "I often say that if they had called us 'girdle burners,' every woman in America would have run to join us."Hanisch was in a small group called New York Radical Women, and they got the idea to target the Miss America pageant after a group meeting discussion about beauty standards. "It was kind of a gutsy thing to do," she says. "Miss America was this 'American pie' icon. Who would dare criticize this?" Hanisch and her group handed out fliers, crowned a live sheep to compare the pageant to a livestock competition at a county fair, and snuck into the event hall with a sheet that read "Women's Liberation." "I think we got in at least half a dozen shouts of 'women's liberation' and 'No more Miss America!'" before the cops hustled them out, says Kathie Sarachild, another member of New York Radical Women. Newspapers around the country picked up on these "bra-burning women's libbers." A myth was born. These days, Carol Hanisch seems ready for another stunt: "Young women have come through the doors that our generation opened, but I don't think they're grasping their situation any more than we did before we began to grasp ours," she says. "We could certainly use another protest. If I could think of one, I would be doing it. I hope somebody does." Pageant Protest Sparked Bra-Burning Myth [NPR]


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this piece was excellent. heard it on the radio this morning and am so pleased to see it featured here today!

ladies - the audio version is definitely worth a listen and can be streamed here: []