The Dr. is back! And this time I come bearing Saturnalia gifts! However, you will have to read through to the end to find out how to prise them from my sweaty paws.
I can’t speak for religions other than christianity, since that is all I have experienced and studied with any great depth, but it is my understanding that all the Abrahamic religions have an heavy misogynistic bent. Christianity (and Islam, from what I understand about it), go to extraordinary lengths to regulate women. There are regulations about the appropriate forums are for them to speak, regulations about their worthiness as human beings whilst they’re menstruating, and even after menstruation. By my calculations, the old testament considers women unclean for at least two weeks of every 28 day cycle. So women are only fully human, and acceptable in the eyes of the christian and jewish deity, for half the time they’re alive, from puberty onward. I don’t need to go into the depths of insanity of the laws surrounding what happens to women who have been raped.
I think that, as a modern society, we have made a little progress in casting off the idiotic ideas about the worthiness of menstruating women, and at least in western society, rape is now unacceptable under pretty much any circumstances, despite what some judges and juries seem to think.
And there is nothing wrong with that…
The thing that still totally gets my goat is how we don’t seem to have made much progress in escaping from the regulations around how women should dress. The biblical regulations around how women should dress center around repressing their natural looks, and then alternately commanding them to dress to please their husband-owners, as well as commanding them to dress modestly in public, because men are weak, and may not be able to control their lust if they see too much ankle. Nowhere in the bible are men treated with the same condescension when it comes to being told how to dress. Having women dress so that they don’t accidentally invoke the lust of some man who has no self control, is worse than making excuses for men. I think it actually sets the expectation that if a women does not dress modestly in public, then the most manly of men are the ones who take it as a signal to impose their sexual will on the woman.
Look, lets be honest. Most guys, upon seeing a really attractive woman, regardless of her state of dress, will wonder what it would be like to have her naked, and to have sex with her. And there is nothing wrong with that, despite what the damn bible tells you. Just like the war on drugs hasn’t worked, primarily because it makes such a scene about banning drugs, making a fuss about having “impure” thoughts only makes the forbidden fruit sweeter, and the guilt afterward deeper.
But I digress. Let me loop back to the one thing I wanted to focus on in this post: the brassiere. For me, this is the one most potent symbol of male repression of females.
Remember what I said about making a fuss about banning things only making them worse? Well, here you have two glands, particular to the female of our species, primarily evolved to provide nourishment for babies. There are several ideas that hypothesize about the evolutionary role of breasts, and that bigger breasts would indicate a more fertile woman, but we don’t really know for sure whether breasts have always functioned as objects of sexual attraction before the modern era. Even in the modern era, you only have to look at the lack of rape on the nude beaches of Europe to see that, once breasts being visible is normalized, and they are no longer objects to be hidden and venerated.
My point is that bras, and corsets, and other shaping devices before them, are basically saying that the natural female form is not desirable enough. Lets get the support thing out of the way real quick: there is a strong case to be made for supporting large breasts during periods of intense activity or exercise. I get that. But why chose a bra, when you can use a compression top, or sports bra that supports, but doesn’t force them into an unnatural shape?
Bras shape breasts to conform with current social expectations. Looking at pictures of women from earlier this century, bras were, for example, far more pointy. They probably actually emulated the natural shape more so than current bras, which tend to go for the curvy shape, aided by copious padding. Outside of the support issue, if you’re just going out for dinner, or to the movies, or some activity which does not involve bouncing around, why not go braless?
Because, shock-horror, your breasts will move and sway and bounce when you move and walk? OMG, can’t have that, right? Because breasts never evolved to move around, right?
Or, even worse, people might discover that you. Have. Nipples!!!!
Seriously, what the entire fuck is it about American society that has made the nipple so completely and utterly taboo? Even if you have to wear bra, why does it have to be one with armor-plated cups to prevent any sign of nipples showing?
very few of us have applied that “question everything” mantra to the way we dress
I’m guessing that the primary reason that women don’t go out braless in public is that they’re worried about being slut-shamed. Moving breasts, with nipples, especially hard nipples, could be misconstrued as signs of sexual arousal, or sexual need, and women are not allowed to get horny. Because their men would not approve of them flaunting themselves and their arousal to anyone else than whom they belong to. And the slut-shaming doesn’t necessarily even all come from men: I suspect that its probably pretty evenly spread between the sexes.
Here’s the thing: breasts are normal. Women have them. They’re great for feeding babies. They’re fucking AWESOME for us adults to play with too. They’re great targets for cum-shots, or for being peed on, if you’re into that kind of thing. They have nipples, of different sizes, colors, orientations, and different propensities to being hard and pointy. They are nothing to be ashamed of. They come in all sizes and shapes, all of which are normal. Strapping them into constrictive devices smacks of male-dominated society’s desire to control what a woman should look like.
I find it interesting, and somewhat distressing that, as atheists and (hopefully) skeptics, very few of us have applied that “question everything” mantra to the way we dress. It is such a vicious cycle, that preys on the insecurities of puberty. Girls are expected to dress in a particular way, to be considered attractive. For me, bras are akin to heavy makeup: its all about putting on a facade, pretending to be something we aren’t. And us males buy into it, and perpetuate it. And of course, male-dominated religion supports this cover-up, because it not only cleverly controls a woman’s sexuality, but also turns the men into sheeple, convincing them that a woman’s natural shape is evil and undesirable.
I’d like to challenge all of you out there, male and female, to think about it the same way you think about religion now that you’re a non-believer. Put yourself in a world that has not yet developed the concept of altering the female form with a bra. Lets pretend, for a few minutes, that we wear clothes for practical purposes, to keep us warm, and perhaps gently support our flappy bits. What sane reason could we come up with to suddenly have women start shaping their breasts in a particular way, or start hiding their prominent nipples? These things have not been an issue before: what thing is there that would compel that kind of society to start thinking that women had to conform to a particular standard?
Just like diversity strengthens evolution, and just like a wide diversity of kinks being accepted as normal, a wide variety of breast shapes and sizes, and the accompanying wide variety of nipple sizes, colors, and orientations, is completely normal. Wanting all breasts to look the same, and hiding all traces of nipples, is completely and utterly abnormal. Slut-shaming women for any reason is abhorrent, but slut-shaming women because they are not ashamed of the breasts they have, or any other physical characteristic, is particularly abhorrent. We frown upon people judging others by other characteristics of outward appearance, such as skin color: how is it any different judging others by them choosing to not wear a bra?
Lets have your comments: other than the support factor, why do you wear a bra? Do you ever go braless in public? If no, why not?
And, a challenge: I’d like to encourage as many of the ladies in our community as possible to try going braless. What I’m looking for is stories about you going braless in public, and how it felt. Did you feel embarrassed, liberated, confused, horny? The best story we receive, which includes pictures, will get a hand-crocheted AoA sheep, a one year FFRF membership (or extension to existing membership, and a $100 Amazon gift card, as a reward for being brave and trying it out. To be clear, we’re not after nekkid pics of you, although we definitely won’t say no to them: we’re after you being proudly, and obviously braless in a public place. And please , be sensible about this and don’t go do it somewhere where there is a preponderance of people unable to control their impulses. This is about challenging your own boundaries, safely. Do it in a safe and controlled environment.
To enter submit your story and/or experience via email to firstname.lastname@example.org