Last week a group of Princeton Secondary School students gained considerable exposure throughout the province when they dropped their bras, picked up their protest signs and demanded school officials get it together when it comes to dress code issues.
While many complaints were addressed, the primary points of contention were that girls are not allowed to show bra straps, and some have been told their manner of dress creates an unfair distraction for their male counterparts.
The ensuing discussions, on social media and around long weekend campfires, were revealing.
The girls received a lot of support.
Yet some people – corseted in the dusty ideas of a previous century – maintained that modest dress is the surest way for women to protect themselves from unwanted attention, and further that men are genetically programmed to be unhinged by women’s bodies so, really, the poor things just can’t help themselves.
The bra, of course, is a highly-politicized garment.
Overheard during the school protest:
Braless Girl #1 – In the sixties and seventies, women actually burned their bras, did you know?
Braless Girl #2 – That’s awesome, we should burn our bras.
Impressively Pragmatic Braless Girl #3 – In the sixties and seventies bras probably didn’t cost $75.
Ensemble: Murmured assent.
Putting bras aside, the issue is not so much why do we sexualize a scrap of clothing, but why the sexualization of the breast itself?
Stating the obvious, every person, male and female, has breasts.
The female breast has a single function, and that is to suckle children. Otherwise it’s just a glom of flesh and fat that makes it impossible to see properly when inserting one’s navel jewelry.
Any woman who’s had an infant latch on for more than five minutes can tell you the breast, in practice, is about as sexy as a plate of cold eggs and sausage.
If milk came out of the big toe, or the crook of the arm, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. However possibly sandals would be banned in the workplace and elbow pads would be required in public.
Breasts are two of the most likely places for a woman’s body to develop life-threatening cancer, and they are often the specific target of physical assault.
No wonder they are on the cover of so many magazines.
So this is where the cavemen come in – and they are so referenced because their arguments predate the discovery of fire.
Their theory goes because men are instinctively compelled to breed (although that might not be the most accurate descriptor) they are attracted to the full breasted female because she is best suited for that purpose.
This means legions of runway models and competitive gymnasts are never going to catch a husband and how does one explain the 1920’s flapper?
If a man has to go back 200,000 years to root out an excuse for his behaviour there really is no such thing as evolution.
Human nature is something we are constantly challenged to overcome, in order to have a better life.
Young men and women are going to find each other attractive.
There are innumerable distractions for both genders on any given school day – big pick up trucks pulling in and out of the parking lot, the smell of meat loaf from the cafeteria, text messages, Snap Chat and clouds rolling across the sky.
If a boy is so agitated by a girl’s bra strap (or bra, or breasts) that he can’t focus on a text book, he needs to take responsibility for those thoughts and seriously get a grip on himself.
Andrea DeMeer is the editor and publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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