June 22, 2018
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Why ‘blue bra’ column was a hit on the Internet

A young Egyptian woman was beaten by the military during a recent demonstration.
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

If you lead with breasts or bras, you are going to get hits.

By “hits” I don’t mean “hit on,” as in the 1990s catchphrase meaning what happened to women in the smoke-filled bars of those days.

I mean “hits” as in Internet interest — “reads,” you might say, or clicks.

And any seasoned editor or headline writer can tell you — whether online or on the pages of an old-fashioned folded-up newspaper — stories involving the breast in any size, shape or form equal interest. They always have, and I suspect they always will.

There is nothing wrong with that, especially if the story behind the headline, the message behind the word, is worth hearing and especially when it knocks on the noggins of people who otherwise may have managed to turn a blind eye to a story theretofore easily ignored.

And though I have a lot of faith and admiration for the readers of the BDN, and though Sally Quinn’s Op-Ed piece on the Egyptian military’s violent response to a demonstrator in that country back in December was compelling, my guess as to why it was the second-most “hit on” story on the BDN website on Wednesday actually had more to do with the mention of a “blue bra” in the headline.

Quinn, of The Washington Post, wrote her column about a young Egyptian woman who was beaten by members of the military on Saturday, Dec. 17, while she was protesting.

While beating her, members of the military tore at her clothes, revealing that the young woman was wearing a beautiful, bright blue bra beneath her abaya. The pictures were broadcast around the world and sparked the “blue bra movement” calling attention to the continuing oppression and violence against the demonstrators, especially the female ones.

I offer my wholehearted apologies to all of those who actually read the column because of their genuine interest in the revolution. I know there are many of you. I know that most of us have continued to pay at least some attention to the nearly year-old uprising.

There was some shared energy involved between the Egypt protests and the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the U.S.

But by some accounts more than 840 people have died during the violence in Egypt that resulted in last February’s resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, and I just don’t recall that story being among the top four or five viewed on the BDN website.

Yet on Wednesday it was No. 2, just behind the story about a rollover on I-95 in Bangor, but beating out the story about two men killed over the holiday weekend, a municipal employee accused of impersonating a state official, and a loophole that allowed the state to pay $235 million to organizations run by lawmakers and their spouses.

That the column about women’s rights in Egypt and the violence against women protesters was mixed in with the interest in all of that local chaos sort of stood out.

And thus I stand behind my theory that the actual interest — the actual motivation behind the click — was the mention of that beautiful blue bra.

The image of that unarmed young Egyptian woman with her abaya splayed open by the armed and well-armored members of the country’s military being beaten and dragged unconscious through the street needed to be seen.

The story needed to be told and heeded.

It may have been the mention of the bra in the headline that caused some to “hit” on Quinn’s column, but that’s OK, because they were rewarded with an insightful commentary on the history of the suppression of women, especially in the realm of religion.

And the whole lesson was learned amongst visions of lacy lingerie and the sexy secrets that lie beneath a woman’s business suit or abaya.

And it highlighted once again that the breast and the bra are nearly always a hit.

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