Bra burning in the 1960s: Was it really a common thing?

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freedom trash can - bra burning - 1970

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Hot subject: History records only one authentic burned bra, another slightly smoked

Fem libbers deny anyone ever really, intentionally burned bra in anger

freedom trash can - bra burning - 1970

By Bob Monroe News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio) April 13, 1973

Footnote to history: Department of bra burning.

Question: Did any feminist ever burn a bra in protest? Answer: The record shows at least one bra burned, and another slightly smoked.

Why the question? Well, leaders of women’s liberation say no bra was ever burned in anger, that it has become a symbol meant to demean a movement with a serious purpose.

“It never happened,” declared an editor at Ms., the feminist magazine.

“Nobody ever burned a bra that I know of,” said Betty Friedan, a leader of the National Organization of Women, adding that she thinks the whole thing is a product of the media’s imagination.

Maidenform bras from 1962

The common assumption is that bra burning began with demonstrators outside the Convention Hall in Atlantic City during the 1968 Miss America contest. That apparently is false.

Women’s Lib pickets protesting the pageant talked of a “symbolic bra burning.” But reporters who covered the event say the demonstrators ended up throwing bras, girdles and hair curlers in a “freedom trash can.”

MORE: Woodstock: What people said the famous music festival was REALLY like (1969)

One newsman recalls a picket preparing to burn a bra by lighting newspapers in a wastebasket. But the papers never really caught fire before police put out the smokey flames. The bra was slightly smoked.

bra burning 1970-1973

The one authenticated bra burning took place in Oklahoma City during a demonstration in conjunction with the 1970 national Women’s Liberation Day.

Mrs Gwen Rose, secretary of a YWCA branch and an organizer of the local protest, set a bra to flames. She also accidentally ignited a small patch of grass and a cardboard box of underwear that was to have been burned later.

You could look it up.

MORE: See the vintage ‘bullet bra’ look that was big in the ’50s

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