RSS Feed

bra-shopping with Bourdieu. I know. weird.

Posted on

Speaking of “symbolic violence”, (which I am about to do) I have to tell ya, i hate marking.  I’m trying to teach about Bourdieu. Oh man, that guy is difficult. I think maybe he got more difficult after he died. That was 2002, mind you, nearly two years before I met him. So I can’t say. But I can say that marking papers about class, Bourdieu and ones social location in relation to urban or suburban teenagers — is a grind.

I bought a bra the other day. stay with me, here, i think i’m gonna get back to marking.

So, i’m kind of morally and politically opposed to wearing bras, but I’m also a bit self-conscious and have become socialized to hide  my nipples from public. I’m over 40, and obviously a lesbian, so by and large, I am not visible to men, (who are the ones sexualizing women and our nipples), but still and all, i get a bit twitchy. I know it’s socially constructed twitchiness on account of living in a fucking misogynist patriarchy and my nipples are lovely and all–but i’m fuckin’ twitchy.

right. So I go into this place that ONLY sells women’s underwear, ’cause my friend K she said, (and she should know, she’s smart about clothes and stuff, she helped me dress for my 30 year high school reunion, and it was even fun shopping with her. go figure) anyhow, K said, “go there, they’ll give you a proper fitting and a perfect bra for you”.

So, I went in. And I’m all twitchy, eh, and there’s a young woman hanging really tiny garments onto a display and she looks at me, smiles and says, “Can I help you?” And I’m all kinda sweaty ’cause i was just riding my bike and a bit nervous and I leaned into her, looking around to make sure no one could hear me (i don’t know why–EVERYONE knows that women buy bras there, fer pete sake, what’s the big deal? It’s like going to an AA meeting and being afraid you’ll see someone you know) –and I whispered, “I need a bra”. she didn’t laugh, but she looked like she wanted to, and said, “would you like a fitting, then?”

“yes please.” I said, “no wires, no padding.”

“ah,” she said, and smiled at me as she went  off to the back of the store, me following,  “we only have one with no wires or padding, that’ll make it easy. Unless you want to try a sports bra”. I said I’d try the sports bra, too. She took a tape measure and measured my circumference and eyeballed my breasts for the cup size. And it wasn’t awkward, either, she was good, that woman. I outweighed her by probably 20+ years, but she was very gracious and respectful. whew.

The sports bra  was like bloody armour  ! My breasts formed a shelf under my chin. I looked kind of formidable. but I also felt kinda stiff.

“Yes,” she said, “it’s okay for working out, not so much for all day”. not even for working out, i’d say. My pecs can do all that support stuff, really. they wer getting huffy being so constrained even for a few moments.

then she hands me the ‘no padding no wires” bra. lord thunderin’ moses. it was black. And that wasn’t the worst of it, it was lacy, too. Black lace! I ask you! I stared at it and then at her.

“I know” she said, “It has lace, sorry. I think we have it in ivory, would you like to try that?”

but they’d run out of ivory.

anyhow. it fit. I’m a 36 E, apparently. they have it recorded at the store, so when they get the ivory one in, i can just go get it.

See? It’s even difficult to get a fucking bra (that no one’s gonna see) that isn’t — well, I guess bras are gendered already–but OVER THE TOP gendered. I want a bra that fits well and so i go to a particular store and the only bloody thing they have has all this lace and shit on it. Oh sure it’s pretty, but I’m self-conscious, aren’t I? and I have a reputation to uphold, don’t I?

don’t I?

made me mad all the way home. that I have to wear a bloody bra in the first place, which I hate, and then it’s so hard to find one that doesn’t have wires and padding and levers and ramps and shit cause god knows we gotta make ‘the girls’ stand out, and up, and be all cleavage-y–but NOT (god forbid!) nipply because the cleavage is comfort, the nipples are the business part, and we have to remember that women are all about being comforting and playthings, but not Life-Givers–that’s dirty.

really really makes me mad. That I cave to the pressure to wear a bra (even when i’m way over forty and therefore invisible to men anyhow, (except in Istanbul))–and then that I have to wear lace. Or armour.

“sorry about the lace,” said the young woman. She was kind of smirking, but not in a mean way.

“it’s okay, it’s not your fault” I said, “and no one will see it.”

“ah. okay” she said, stepping back a bit.

“No one,” I repeated. “you’ve been very patient and kind. thank you.”

Oh yea, and as i was paying, she noticed my ‘synapse’, which is a silver pendant i wear–it’s the symbol of the Lesbian Tent Revival (created and performed by Carolyn Gage– and it’s a reminder to keep thinking even when the patriarchy does it’s very best to interfere with your thinking and keep us from making the connections between each other and tells us we’re silly or stupid or fucking pre-menstrual (they’re just afraid, ‘pre-menstrual’ is a FANTASTIC state to be in)–keep them synapses firing–and she asked about it and when I told her she and her co-worker said, “right on! that’s true, too!”

So I left the store with a new bra that fit well (even though it’s black and has lace–sigh), and I was both angry AND happy. Which is a pretty fun state in which to be.

oh yea, i was going to get back to Bourdieu, and marking papers and  how bras are symbolic violence, but I think i implied it, and i still have some marking to do anyhow, and i’ll talk more about all that later. I’m not gonna get back to it this post. I’m sorry. shiny things. you know how it is.

About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, working in a field for which I am not yet trained, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. Radical feminism will be the roots of our shared liberation. Rejection of sex-stereotypes (gender) and male domination will give us wings.

6 responses »

  1. amy mcloughlin

    Brilliant sister!

  2. Mati needs a new one too…same requirements…no padding,no wire and not boring….guess no chance….


    • oh, Joanna, i wish it were mine, but it aren’t. that’s an east coast saying, ‘lord thunderin’ moses.” or ‘jay-sus’ too, if you want. i love the way they curse in Cape Breton and Newfoundland and those windswept rocky places. poetic. when i see you, i will tell you my favourite cape breton curse. I can’t write it here, the screen will melt.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: