Downtown display inappropriate
Letter to the Editor | Friday, October 27, 2006
The rare Notre Dame Student who makes it off campus today and into downtown South Bend might notice a racy display: thousands of bras strung across a public square to attract attention for breast cancer treatments and research.
“Bras Around the Bend” has, like many activities of its nature, a laudable goal: raising awareness to generate donations for women’s causes. In no way should this objective be diminished in principle. However, the means employed by this particular effort bring into question whether any sense of decency should be preserved in the public arena.
The bra display operates on the premise of an equivocation. In one context the bra is meant merely to symbolize the physical genesis for the cancer. In another, and perhaps all-too-culturally-familiar context, the bra is a provocative symbol for sex (see, e.g., Victoria’s Secret ads.)
While the former meaning might be the innocent intent, it’s not impossible that the latter connotation is also being invoked to “raise the awareness.” The fact that the event is sponsored by U93 (how many times is it possible to play the “Buttons song” in one day?) gives reason to believe that something more than innocent intentions are the motivating factor here.
For those who feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by the sight of the display, you are not alone and you are not unjustified. Bras, being the intimate sort of apparel that they are, belong under shirts, not as decoration for the city plaza.
By all means, go to The Vine for the “Think Pink” fundraiser, buy pink ribbon bagels at Panera and donate money to Riverbend Cancer Services. But ladies, please respect yourselves and the men in you lives: keep your extra braziers in the underwear drawer.