To My Slut Shaming Brother

Maria Morri
Maria Morri

I recently visited my brother in Philadelphia as his time at a post grad fellowship drew to a close. At the reception for the graduation I had a minor yet unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. I stood up to adjust myself only to be met with an intense and exasperated stare from my big brother. “Cover yourself or get out,” he spat at me through gritted teeth.

“I guess I’ll be going then”

Maybe my reaction was over the top, but so was his. I’d worn this dress multiple times without complaint from my conservative family, but on this occasion I was menstruating. My normally average C cups were branching out of their comfort zone like a child peeking from behind its mother’s skirt. They weren’t used to getting out this much.

This wasn’t the first time my brother had pulled some shit like this. He had never been shy about vocalizing his objections to what I wore or my conduct in general, but to publicly chastise me like a belligerent toddler was unacceptable. If you want me to play the part of the overly sensitive, outwardly emotional, feminist baby sister- fine.

But to my brother:

You don’t get to make me feel bad for an honest mistake. You are not allowed to degrade me in public as a power trip. You don’t have the right to throw a scarlet letter on me and declare I leave the room because my bra strap is visible. This isn’t 1953 where women were disciplined by men and were trained to be seen and not heard. I won’t walk through life balancing on expectations and landing on your disappointments.

You had more than one chance to discuss this with me in private, but you didn’t take them. You waited until we were in a small church sunroom where people could see and hear. That’s when you decided I was an embarrassment. I was a situation to be dealt with. Never mind the reason my dress slipped was because I was setting down a bag of food I frantically picked up for you and holding my camera at the ready to capture the moments of your important day.

I don’t cause arguments like this intentionally or maliciously. I’m just walking through life trying to be myself and be there for you simultaneously. I don’t want to distract from your accomplishments or tarnish proud days. But I am more than my anatomy. I cannot and will not apologize for having breasts and dealing with the effects of that. If 36 inches of lacy fabric offends your sensibilities maybe it’s you who’s too sensitive.

I can’t keep excusing your behavior as being over protective. I can’t just let it go. I can’t justify it with reason like, “I go to a prestigious school and you represent me,” or, “I’m under a lot of pressure.” I can’t forget it for the sake of our parents, so I’m taking a stand in this church parking lot in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I don’t care what people say or if they think I’m crazy. I don’t care if our parents are rolling their eyes at the problem child pouting at misogyny.

Am I the only person who thinks this is unacceptable?

If you were my boyfriend and spoke to me this way, I would run for the hills. If you were my boss, I would file a complaint with HR. If I met you on the street I would throw up a less than lady like hand gesture.

But you’re my brother and it hurts so much more for that reason. TC mark

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