Outside Facebook’s New York headquarters last Sunday, over 100 demonstrators laid nude. The activitists according to The Guardian, “covered their bodies with stickers of male nipples” protesting for the company to change its censorship policies. The free the nipple movement made headlines in 2014 after celebrities such as Miley Cyrus showed support. In a feminist fighting society, does Facebook comply with sexiest ideologies or are they protecting women?
Our uncomfortable problem
When a girl gets ready with her friends on a night out, she soon realises who’s comfortable displaying their body. Some happily whip their bra off to slip on a bralette, others perform the school P.E changing room routine and turn around, and a few leave the room. Despite men commonly going topless in the sun and posting chest fitness photos, women’s nipples don’t receive the same normality.
Breasts equal sex, art and motherhood. I began going out braless in my early twenties when tops I bought didn’t hide straps or fabric under my arms. High fashion depicts the female chest as artistic androgyny. It’s more about the form as a creation rather than sex. Once I moved past my padding stage and began accepting what I was given, I felt free to not put on a bra. This was the case at the weekend when I wore a Mango sleeveless top bra free. I felt the stares of women judging my choice and the eyes of men gawking.
Lydia Major writing for The Sun, shared my experience when she went to work without wearing a bra. She reported women rolling their eyes, tutting and making “snarky comments to their mates”. We tend to make exceptions for women with smaller breasts, though Kim Kardashian is challenging this notion. Jennifer Aniston created uproar when fans of Friends noticed her nipples making many appearances. Would the free the nipple movement stop our obsession and awkwardness?
Revenge porn and sexual pressure
My feminist side wants to burn my bra and latch on to the movement, but reality steps in and questions the dark issues attached. It’s crazy to think nipples can signify such drama. Revenge porn doesn’t yet receive strong enough prosecution – debatably many countries don’t treat the crime seriously. Instagram could potentially become another outlet if they loosened their policies. How would we know what women have consented to their topless images receiving likes?
Back in May, Metro revealed thousands of revenge porn victims in the UK had their private sexual images uploaded online. What makes the situation more horrific, some were taken when they were teenagers. It’s easy to blame women and say they should know better (ignorant opinions I’ve read), yet we’re living in a time when ‘sexting’ has become a norm. As I wrote in my piece Male Sexual Privilege and Female Contradiction we’re quick to blame female victims and not men who commit the wrongdoing.
In addition to issues surrounding consent, if the free the nipple movement gained victory, imagine the extra pressure on young women to flaunt skin. Already we’re bombarded with female celebs and influencers posting racy photos. And for females wanting extra attention, the desire to bare their nipples may seem great now, but disastrous years later when they realise, they don’t want their breasts promoted on social apps. Additionally, seeing it all without a bra may add to Instagram’s current body pressure and keep young girls looking at porn industry representations of how to pose and look attractive.
Reclaiming our rights
The Daily Beast has produced an in-depth free the nipple campaign article. Speaking about art, writer Alaina Demopoulos shares how white men in Western society have dominated the industry throughout history. Women lost control of their bodies to male painters and sculptures. Greek art for instance, focused on male nudity while female sculptures were kept hidden. To this day – regardless of the countless art periods, women’s chests embody seduction or religious concepts relating to motherhood.
Letting women post their chests can break this cycle and give back power. Why do we let men decide how we treat our bodies? We encourage women to possess self-love and accept their physiques; we equally block liberation by covering a natural aspect of their form. All the while, men feature in ad campaigns in just a pair of briefs and receive adoration.
Some artists and people find empowerment from nude imagery. Artists who draw or capture nudes are not able to publish their work properly. Particularly photographers who have to pixilate their images. What message do social media sites create when they tell users a woman’s body alone requires restriction?
Free the nipple feelings
Considering every person in the entire world has nipples, it’s absurd that in the 21st century, female nipples connote outrage, controversy and judgement. Some outfits I believe look better with a bra and vice versa. I don’t want to see naked chests out and about – both male and female, in the same way I don’t want to witness fully naked bodies stepping aboard my train carriage.
I like that Instagram and Facebook has a sense of innocence by restricting sexual imagery, although I think in equality, the same rules ought to apply to men. On the other hand, the restrictions emphasise a major problem in society – exhibited female figures seen only for the eyes of men. Women are stuck in conflicting minds between embracing themselves and looking ‘slutty’.
How do you feel about the free nipple movement? Are you for or against?