ByÂ Mahitha Kasireddi:
We call ourselves a progressive society today. We have successfully busted all myths and taboos regarding ‘sex’ and ‘AIDS’. The awareness levels at present are high. Words such as, ‘condom’, ‘sex’, ‘vagina’, ‘penis’, ‘breasts’ are more often taken in our conversations and writings. The more we spoke about them the more they seemed to be obvious. The increase in information regarding sexuality and intercourse, debates and lectures by researchers and doctors has so far helped in overcoming all embarrassments. Both men and women at the receiving end feel liberated when a closed unspoken matter is discussed openly with salubrious intentions. Anything that is conditioned to be hidden and carries a ‘not-to-be-seen’ label only sparks speculations and unnecessary hypothesis and false theories ultimately pushing into the dark forever. And then by creating gender specific spaces we are only doing more harm than good. Have we really done away with all proscriptions? Do we have information on absolutely everything available to all? Did we have a conversation on everything possible regarding sex and gender?
We haven’t yet evolved totally. All feminist, humanists, libertarians and protagonists of progression need to take note of it. There is yet a lot amount of hushing and shushing around gender specific items. There are yet a few issues which young men and women are unaware about. People still feel embarrassed, ashamed and frown upon the mere mention of them, people hide them away from public spaces, they are restricted to very private spaces. There is a difficulty in purchasing them. There is a taboo around them. They are the ladies undergarments, the ‘Bras’. We cannot leave them lying anywhere in the house, it is a shame so we hide them away in inner most shelves of the house. We cannot hang them openly along with other clothes to dry. We cannot dress in a way that the bra line shows else we would be subjected to frisks, adjustments and scrutiny by other women. We are banned from uttering the word ‘bra’ at gatherings as it is most disrespectful and indecent and the room would be evaded with sudden silence and gasps.
We women face most awkward moments while purchasing bras from male salesmen at small retail shops. When he asks for the size, colour, fitting, brand etc., we give quick answers avoiding eye contact. The details which we supposedly feel very personal should be spoken out for once in every six months. Moments of frustration build up which we hide, putting up a casual behaviour. The moment we finish trying and purchasing we rush out of the shop and take a deep breath. Oh, such an ordeal!
What is the message we are trying to send out? When you hear assertive statements such as, ‘my respect does not lie in my vagina’, I would like to ask if our respect lies in the undergarments. Off course we have more convenient method to purchase inners, which is online shopping, but what message are we sending across to young girls in their early ages of puberty? Should they feel guilty about their breasts? Shouldn’t we allow them to grow up comfortably, appreciating their bodies and celebrating womanhood? When was the first time you and me were made conscious about our growing breasts. When was the first time we went to purchase a bra, how difficult or easy was it? What and how much do we know about our breasts and bras? Do we buy the right size? Do we get the right comfortable fitting? Do we really need bras? Or do we feel ill at ease to even secure information on them? And lastly, what do men know about bras?
Here is an amazing, happy initiative brought up by a few young people. The BRAJECT (Bra+Project). The objective of this project is to mainly expose the mystery of the sensuous piece of fabric. They aim to break stereotypes and taboos, lift banishments within all social circles, do away with hypothesis and myths, empower young men and women with all they need to know about bras- sizes, colours, types etc. Campus DiariesÂ has invited people from all walks of life, men and women, specially the young to have a healthy conversation on bras, to contribute stories and speak out their apprehensions, fears, hate and first time experience with buying a bra. Anybody can write to the Braject. The stories written here are of varying perspectives, talk of various issues that are never spoken before. They wish to help young girls in understanding their body and getting a right one for themselves without feeling guilty or embarrassed. This comes because mothers, grandmothers and aunts in the house aren’t opening up yet to talk about them while they have all right to seek information.
Now, the point whether it is essential to manage the shape and size of breasts is strictly a choice. Lingerie is often viewed as a luxury or a fashionable possession rather than a necessity. Heard of the bra-burning feminists of 1960s? Men feel titillated on fantasizing a woman’s body in lingerie. Let’s all be honest in acknowledging that sex and lingerie cannot be separated. The best way to deal with tittering around them is to actually make our conversation on sex more inclusive. Also, not wearing a bra is individual choice and shall not be seen as an unimaginable crime or subjected to any speculation.
Bra selling companies with names that suggest eroticism have grown out of proportion to prescribe the right shape of breasts or the right fitting. Don’t you think such things are dominant market standards? Don’t you feel that the making of bras need to be more personalized, customised and specific to every one? Don’t you want to undo those red lined patches on your skin induced due to skin sticking straps? Actual progress is achieved when purchasing a bra is equated to any other normal action. Third wave feminism should campaign extensively for this.