Burning My Bra

I’ve been trying to write about #MeToo and my own brand of feminism for several months – it hasn’t come easy to me and I think I figured out why: I was still caught in the mindset of “it’s just the way it is.”

It’s just the way it is – because that’s the way it has always been but I have decided to let go of that notion and see the truth, that it didn’t have to be that way and that the way that it was definitely impacted me and who I became, as well as the opportunities available to me.

Maybe I viewed the incredibly positive side of Black Lives Matter because of how my feelings about the lives of women have evolved and the correlation therein. My life as a wife, my life as a mom, as a female employee, as a coach, as a leader, as a writer – my life as a girl, my life as a woman sheds light on what this is about – self-doubt, self-loathing. But ultimately, it’s become about self-qualifying.

When I look at opportunities I’ve had for personal growth, there is often a strange and gross entreaty attached; “but what if…” What if someone finds out that I got my business degree in my 40s?

For this means I had no direction or couldn’t get shit done in a timely manner. It actually means that I did what I had to do in order to provide for my family as a single mom.

What if he finds out I’ve been married three times? It must mean that I am fickle or don’t know how to treat a man. Or that I make very bad decisions. When really? It means I have a very big heart, I know how to forgive, and I love love.

And here it comes:
What if they find out about the late night blow job I gave a guy much younger than me because I’d had a little too much to drink or because I was lonely? How about this, because I wanted tothe why shouldn’t matter, does it matter for the man, the recipient? It’s obvious why, for him, right? Why can’t it be obvious for her?

I wanted to. I liked it – it made be feel wanted, it made me feel sexy.  But shhhh, I can’t say that. It’s improper, it’s slutty. It’s sinful.
But he’s the stud as he tells all his friends about it and they high five him or slap him on his sweaty back. When really, the one getting the high fives should be every woman who conquers her gag reflex. .

Still, we cling to propriety.

I stopped wearing a bra regularly about 20 years ago.

It was one year after the birth of my fourth child – I’d nursed all four of my babies and my small breasts showed the wear and tear of motherhood. My marriage was in trouble and my husband had recently started being very vocal and animated in his sleep, in his dreams. He was talking and cooing a great deal in his sleep, often mentioning loudly how great big tits are. I, sadly, knew he was not dreaming or sleep-talking about me. As a dilapidated 34 A, he was definitely not referencing the woman in his bed every night.

With a 10-month old baby in tow, I visited a cosmetic surgeon and began the process of getting a boob job. I guess I should be proper and write, “breast augmentation” – and that is what I write on my medical history forms, but let’s get real – it’s a boob job.  After a few visits, my in-office surgery was scheduled. My husband didn’t balk – why would he? After all, it’s something he’d been dreaming about.  Anyway, after my boob job, I stopped wearing a bra. Oh, I wore a strapless one occasionally, and I wore camisoles, but straps and hooks, buttons and bows? Nope, never again.

I was happy with the results and life was smooth, for a while. Our marriage ended within 3 years and I never looked back. I’ve moved forward as an independent woman, in multiple ways. And though I was never part of an official bra-burning movement, I am part of that movement unofficially – the cause – the release – the letting go of the confines that someone else determines is part of womanhood or what makes a “good” woman. But is my goodness for anyone else to determine, other than me? I am the one who decides whether or not I am a good or decent woman – because my standards, my virtues are what matter. Not yours and not his.

It Demeans You

A few weeks ago, I was at an event and a man, who felt comfortable enough to speak to me about this, pulled me aside and said, “You know, I couldn’t help but notice that you are not wearing a bra.” I responded with, ‘That’s interesting – but, I haven’t worn a bra for 20 years.” He expected me to be embarrassed or worried about perceptions.

“Given your industry, don’t you think it demeans who you are and what you can achieve?” I was silent for just a moment – inside my brain was screaming – the fact that I am a woman has already demeaned me in the eyes of many men (and sadly, many women) But I simply stated, “I am a woman, so guess what? I actually have boobs.” Flat ones or purchased ones. – plump, nice ones, perky, youthful ones, lopsided or droopy ones – boobs are wonderful – who doesn’t love boobs? But according to this man – in order for me to be taken seriously, we are also supposed to pretend that we don’t have nipples or cleavage by taping them down or wearing a thickly-padded bra to cover up the nipple truth. I wish I could say that it was a final straw for me and that I snapped –- but, I didn’t – I kept my wits and propriety about me. I waved it off with a hurry hand and a statement of “I don’t really care what anyone thinks is right or proper. I have boobs, I have cleavage, I have nipples – so does half the population, get over it.”

I often feel that American puritanism seeps out, rotten and stinking, when someone wants to control or halt movement forward. I think, from now on, I’ll just air that moldy puritan shit out or toss it in the trash where it belongs.

We are different, our bodies are different. You are going to have to start controlling yourselves, men, and not blame your discrimination, your bias, your harassment, your sin or crime on that fact that a woman has nipples or cleavage that you caught a glimpse of.

Chances are your best bud has nipples, too – if this is how you get your rocks off, maybe he’ll let you harass him.

And guess what, guys? The post-shower weenie dance you all do doesn’t make us want you. Actually, it’s quite improper, so stop it.