Here’s to Going Without a Bra
Of all of the relationships our culture has with the human body, one would be rather hard-pressed to find a more bizarre set of mixed signals quite as we have with the female breast. We adore them, yet, we shun them, we tuck them away behind clothing and bras, we cover them with drapes and little black boxes on video, yet, we pay top dollar to view them in private when no one is around. We take this weird etiquette very seriously. Breasts are the first givers of life, the things that feed all of us as infants, they’re what support the very life of every young child, yet, we consider them non-family-friendly.
In many places in the United States, it’s perfectly legal for women to be topless in public, though many cities and localities have laws strictly forbidding such. Yet, one can’t help but sense the irony that if a woman is legally walking down the street topless and takes a photo to upload on Instagram, she’s thus violating their Community Guidelines, as Instagram proudly boasts that only the nipples of women cannot be shown. The double standard is palpable.
Is it time we finally put to rest the age-old question of bras, as well? Bras, make-up, high heeled shoes, and other accessories are often what women feel they need to wear in order to be accepted, or worse, loved. While these things can be great and give women a sense of confidence they may be lacking, even if they just find themselves lacking it for that day, they should never be considered a necessity. What’s wrong with a bare breast with a shirt draped over it? Hell, what’s wrong with a bare breast without shirt draped over it, depending on the context and forum? I can’t think of much.
Even worse, in today’s America, employers can demand that employees wear a bra as a part of their dress code…uncomfortable, wire-framed brassieres can be mandated, regardless of the fact that they can cause skin irritation and possibly other health issues. Why are we so afraid to let breasts just simply exist? Has our puritanical culture become that diffident, sheepish, and timid, so as to shudder and cringe in horror at a woman’s breast existing under a t-shirt, one that isn’t guarded by big, puffy pads that distort the shape and contour of the breast? Is that the world we live in, now?
I’m not hearing a whole lot from the “Women’s liberation has already been achieved!” crowd on this issue. I’m fairly certain that if men were forced to wear athletic cups, the plastic protectors which serve to cover a man’s penis, there would be instantaneous outrage over such a policy. I know I wouldn’t want to be forced to wear an athletic cup to work just in case the outline of my penis might occasionally show through the fabric of my pants.
Many men don’t see this as true oppression, but when we put it that way, we can’t deny that it’s totally arbitrary. Time Magazine even described the “greatest perk” of the bra as being the joy of finally being able to take it off after a long day. The apologetic masochism is pretty plain to see. Let’s not forget that bras were invented so women wouldn’t have to wear their corsets, another device that was pitifully stiff and painfully unforgiving for the wearer. The notion that women should have to wear bras is so invasive that many women feel bad not wearing one, even in their personal lives.
And, what about the look? While I know some women out there prefer the look of their breasts in bras, and that choice should be up to them, I’ve got to say, from a man’s perspective, there’s very little in this world as alluring as the woman I’m attracted to going braless underneath a t-shirt and just existing comfortably without the need for pretense or artificial pads. That’s my personal preference, though I’m sure many men will cosign that preference and say that they too adore a beautiful set of breasts that aren’t covered up.
Perhaps that’s why many men feel the need to cover them up — they’re just too damn sexy and those men, in particular, can’t control their urges or thoughts. It’s a weird way that men likely want women to be things that are sexualized, but only on their terms, in their desired contexts, forums, and circumstances. I believe that such a choice should be left up to the person leaving the house that day or getting dressed for whatever may come that morning.
In a very real way, a woman’s femininity, her sexuality, is part of her power, one that society has tried to quelch at every turn to deprive her of the power that she contains within herself simply by existing. Her essence itself is powerful and in many ways, society would like to see that reduced to the greatest degree possible. It’s precisely that power that is sexy, so if you’re a woman and reading this, your breasts are going to be just fine with or without a bra and there’s no need to feel any shame in not wearing them. Say it with me, one time, there’s nothing wrong with womanhood, up to and including her autonomous and independent sexuality.
Those who shudder at the wearing of a shirt without a bra, do this in the name of a pretend social cohesion, an endeavor at which society fails greatly — are we really all that cohesive? I feel like it’s actually done to keep a few comfortable at the expense of the many and so we can continue our outdated traditions in the name of fear — fear of progress.
On a closing note, I challenge my male readers out there to imagine a world where they were forced, often by the threat of termination from their employment, where they needed to wear an athletic cup over their penises. I challenge them to envision a world, one that’s almost dystopian on the face of things already, where they needed to wear that cup because the mere sight of a portion of the outline of their genitals would inflame women to such a degree, that they become somewhat enraged. The mere sight of a penis underneath clothing would be enough to cause an uproar, or customer complains, or nasty comments, or in some cases, even rape.
This is exactly the world that we’ve created for women, particularly their breasts and expected — nay — demanded them to live in. Is this really just?
Kudos to those women out there who have shed their fears and embraced the braless experience, not caring about the stares and snickers, and have decided to embrace themselves and their own autonomy. Similarly, I give respect to those who have consciously and honestly weighed the pros and cons of each, deciding that wearing a bra is what works best for them, and understood that such a decision is a personal one. Sometimes, I look around and see how medieval we still are, in a many ways. Hopefully, the future will be less archaic. Here’s some more food for thought…