What comes to your mind when you think of Mardi Gras? For some, it’s the traditional fare of extravagant parade floats, exquisite masks, and beautiful beads. For others, the image that comes to mind is that of wild parties, women flashing their breasts and the craziness that is Bourbon Street.
Mardi Gras is a historical celebration that dates back thousands of years, and was intended to be a celebration on the eve of Lent. The hedonism that we see pictured in the media is completely separate from the beautiful parades and celebrations. Breast flashing is not considered to be a “real” tradition of Mardi Gras, but rather a phenomenon that surrounds the spring break mentality of the young people that hang out on Bourbon Street. Fortunately, the two images that we have of Mardi Gras are completely separate phenomena. The festive parades throughout New Orleans and the South remain a more sacred celebration that are frequented more by locals while the wild celebrations occur on Bourbon Street alone with hundreds of tourists. The 'Think Positive!' Experiment
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The big question is: what leads so many people to engage in the practice of exchanging beads and other trinkets for exposing a body part?
The act of bearing one’s breasts at Mardi Gras dates back to the 1970s, but drastically increased from 1987 to 1991. Many women attribute the flashing of their breasts to their mass consumption of alcohol. They also report pleasure from violating the expected norms of society as a whole.A recent study found that 68% of men and 63% of women had at least 5 or 6 drinks per sitting while at Mardi Gras festivities. About one quarter of the men reported having at least 16 drinks per sitting! Can A Woman Be Both Powerful And Feminine?
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The study also reported that 42% of men expect to have sex with somebody they meet at Mardi Gras. A third of all attendees surveyed did, in fact, have sex with someone that they had met at the festivities, and about one half said at least a few of their friends did too. Perhaps we could compare the wild times at Mardi Gras to the activities that take place in Las Vegas. Clearly there are some similarities between the two. There is the popular saying that “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” We could also say, “What happens on Bourbon Street stays on Bourbon Street.”
One big difference between Las Vegas and Bourbon Street is the fact that the activities that take place on Bourbon Street are often videotaped or photographed. This can come back to haunt people. It’s widely known that media outlets reserve Bourbon Street balconies at least five years in advance! One female flasher found out that video footage of her flashing her breasts showed up on a 'Girls Gone Wild' video. She filed a court case after discovering that her images were on the cover of the DVD and there was footage of her within the video. The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Of Gossip