Many men have a lot of trouble unhooking women's bras from the front.
Humiliatingly enough, it often turns out these guys' worldly, swinging compatriots are able to unhook a girl's bra blindfolded, upside-down and with their teeth in two seconds.
Truth in Television for a lot of guys. While most bras really are easy enough to undo one-handed, it's understandable why some have difficulty. When you consider lack of experience, understanding or the proper technique, worrying about this trope, being unable to see what they're doing and either so nervous, excited, embarrassed or eager that shaking uncooperative hands aren't out of the question, it's not surprising that many people may have experienced this, particularly their first time. Maybe she could just do it herself. Or, perhaps, buy a bra that hooks from the front.
Interestingly, while most women soon learn to unhook their own bras easily enough, when it comes to manipulating the bra of another woman, or the hooks of a bra still in its package, they often have more trouble. Some women can only do it with their eyes closed, working by feel alone.
In fiction, this frequently proves to be a Moment Killer, because people are incapable of laughing off minor embarrassments.
That said, it is actually fairly intuitive (bra manufacturers would go out of business if they weren't), so No Real Life Examples, Please!.
- Microsoft introduced a password protected bra.
- Brain K. Vaughn's The Escapists features the fictional character "The Escapist", who is capable of picking any lock, in #2, he boasts of finally being able to unhook a girl's bra.
- American Pie 2: Michelle teaches Jim how to take off a bra one handed, and keeps slapping him away when he tries to use both hands.
- In Animal House, Larry Kroger has trouble unhooking Clorette DePasto's bra, though that's not nearly as much trouble as when he finds that Clorette is underage.
- The 40-Year-Old Virgin had this.
- Parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux where a woman's bra turns out to literally have a lock on the back.
- Bull Durham has a variation when Annie Savoy tries to teach Nuke LaLoosh to unhook her garters from her stockings (to "improve his hand-eye coordination"). Nuke has just as much trouble with it as the trope standard has with bras.
- Related to the American Pie 2 example, it should be noted, since Annie expected Nuke to be able to do it one-handed. Later in the movie, when she finally gives in to erstwhile suitor Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), the nonchalant ease with which he's able to do this appears to be quite the turn-on for her...
- D.E.B.S. provides a rare inverted example of a female character having difficulty unhooking her partner's bra.
- A guy in The Last Picture Show is having a hard time opening Jacy's bra. Eye rolling incorporated.
- Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex:
You cannot casually unhook a bra strap. The bra-strap industry sees to this. Scientists over at the Bra Strap Research Center in Amarillo, Texas, work night and day with volunteer males and lifelike female dummies coming up with newer and more complicated fastening devices, devices where the first hook actually re-hooks itself after you go on to the second one, such that nobody can get these bras off, especially not a lust-crazed male in a dark room. Many priceless jewellry collections are now protected solely by bra straps.
- An article in an Australian girly magazine reminisced on the difficulty of removing a girl's bra in the back of a movie theatre in The '50s, noting that it was good practice for National Service training, when you had to strip and reassemble a Bren gun in the dark.
- A book about the history of bras was held shut with a bra hook, as well as instructions on how to un-hook a bra one-handed.
- One of the minor problems of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye:
Take this girl that I just missed having sexual intercourse with, that I told you about. It took me about an hour to just get her goddam brassiere off. By the time I did get it off, she was about ready to spit in my eye.
Monica: Chandler stop! It's not going to pop open.
- Joey has trouble opening Rachel's bra. This is a sign that them having a relationship is not a good idea, as he usually can do it without any effort. He once looked at one and it popped open. Comically subverted immediately after by Chandler.
Chandler: You don't know!
- Joey claims that Chandler is afraid of bras, because he "can't work 'em."
- On Monty Python's Flying Circus, the Upperclass Twit of the Year competition involved unhooking a mannequin's bra as one of its tasks. Which involved them shaking the mannequins to pieces and pulling furiously, using a foot for leverage...
- Eric from That '70s Show had trouble unhooking Donna's bra. We even see an X-ray view through the back of her shirt of his fingers fumbling with the snap, which then turns into a combination lock that he spins uselessly. His friends gave him some (relatively) smart advice: Buy a bra, practice on that bra, then give it to Donna as a gift so he already knows how it works. Ultimately, she just does not wear a bra on their date. Fez needed instruction as well. During a "training session" he tackled a mannequin wearing a bra.
- 3rd Rock from the Sun: Sally went out with her boyfriend and his mother to a classy restaurant. Not knowing better, she casually told the mother about a time he had trouble undoing Sally's bra.
Tommy: When will you teach us how to unhook a bra?
- In a later episode:
Sex Ed Teacher: We're not learning that.
Tommy: Well, all this stuff is very interesting, but I'm not going to get to any of it if I can't unhook a bra.
Tommy: We had sex ed today.
Dick: Did they teach you how to unhook a bra?
- Happy Days had a training session for Richie, complete with bra-clad mannequin. Naturally, The Fonz was able to get the bra off flawlessly.
- Happens in Grounded for Life.
- How I Met Your Mother: Bra hooks are one of only three things Barney Stinson is willing to fight. The other two are a paternity suit and the urge to vomit upon seeing someone wear brown shoes with a black suit.
- Room 101: Bill Bailey tried to put bras into Room 101 for this reason.
- Scrubs: J.D. struggles to take off Elliot's bra from the back, only for her to tell him that she had switched to "frontsies".
- An episode of The Office has Michael create a video of knowledge he wishes to pass on to his future son in the event of his death. Naturally, he includes the proper way to remove a bra. This includes Dwight wearing a bra, pretending to be Pam as Michael, tries and fails to remove it. And he can see the clasp.
- Drew has problems with this on The Drew Carey Show. He keeps a pair of scissors in his beside drawer for dealing with particularly recalcitrant bra straps.
- Drew's brother Steve taught him how to remove a bra one-handed. Of course he knew.
- Seinfeld. The episode where Kramer introduces the Bro/Man-ssiere to Frank Costanza. They insist on using velcro for this very reason.
- The Big Bang Theory: Howard is making out with Bernadette and fumbling with her bra, only for her to tell him it unhooks at the front.
- In the Married... with Children episode "What I Did for Love", Al tries to demonstrate a bra-unhooking technique on a mannequin for Bud, but his hand gets stuck.
- One sketch on The Man Show had Jimmy Kimmel demonstrating his ability to get bras off, challenging women on the street that he could do it in under 30 seconds. The only one that stymied him was a little person who, it turned out, was not wearing one to begin with.
- Discussed on The King of Queens; in one episode Carrie briefly recounts an encounter with an ex-boyfriend who spent a half-hour trying to undo her bra, only to finally learn her bra opened from the front.
- Also happened in a flashback to Doug realizing the same thing with Carrie when trying to get her into bed for the first time. He points out that only sluts have bras that open from the front, not earning himself any points with Carrie. Thing is, she really was a slut until she met Doug and was trying to change her ways.
- Inverted in Rin's route in Katawa Shoujo. The bra comes off easily enough, but getting it back on is another story entirely. Rin can be forgiven for not being much help, though, given that she has no hands.
- Inverted in If My Heart Had Wings. Aoi has absolutely no trouble removing Kotori's bra in the dark.
- Misfile: Ash's first time using a bra isn't as easy as (s)he thought.
- Penny and Aggie, here.
Stan: Says the girl whose sports bra has a kryptonite lock.
- Granted, they're in a dark, cramped closet, but should Aggie have that much trouble getting Penny's bra off?
- One Questionable Content comic mentions this, with Steve complaining about the shrink-wrap on CDs being bloody impossible to get off, and Marten commenting that the difficulty heightens the anticipation, and the enjoyment of the final result.
Steve: Ah, just like trying to unhook a bra...
Marten:Yes, except for that the CD doesn't start giggling uncontrollably if you take more than fifteen seconds.
- xkcd replaces the hooks with a Rubik's Cube! xkcd chatroom gives us a reverse metaphor.
- In Futurama, Professor Farnsworth is doing this and mutters "so many hooks" (there were two). Granted, he's quite elderly. Halfway through he contemplates admitting defeat.
- In King of the Hill, Bill is seen fumbling trying to remove a bra from a display mannequin. Boomhauer, annoyed from how long he is taking, just simply walks up and unlatches the bra in a simple motion.