It’s an especially hot day, and the underwire of your bra leaves a red, sweaty line beneath your breast. If only you could strip it off and catch the slight breeze.
An equality movement focused on the double standards of censorship, Free the Nipple encompasses the issue of the sexualization of women’s bodies.This movement seeks to stop society from sexualizing the female upper-body by addressing the culture and laws of America and the inconsistencies that come with them. Free the Nipple is one of many movements that is trying to bring the world closer to gender equality.
The laws surrounding toplessness are inconsistent throughout the country. A map of the states that have some freedom to go topless is available on gotopless.org, but that freedom is not statewide. Local ordinances may allow or ban the practice, no matter the state law. According to Time magazine, for instance, toplessness, though legally allowed in New York City, still leads to arrests. Police officers often need reminding that they cannot arrest women simply for going topless.
Activist and filmmaker Lina Esco directed “Free the Nipple” (based on real events), the movie that helped bring attention to the movement. Etonline quoted her thoughts on the movie, saying, “The whole point of the movie was to really start a dialogue about equality, about censorship.” Several celebrities have backed the campaign, including Miley Cyrus (notorious for her various nude photos, nipple pasties, and outlandish costumes) and comedienne Chelsea Handler, who spoofed Russian president Vladamir Putin with a topless Instagram photo. Handler noted that taking the photo down would be sexist, and claimed that she had “every right to prove I have a better body than Putin.” Various other Instagrammers recently joined Free the Nipple by photoshopping male nipples onto their own naked chests. Matt McGory, an actor on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, joined the movement by posting a picture of himself with women’s nipples photoshopped over his own.
Such topics as breastfeeding and art have also been connected to the movement. Time magazine mentions one woman who was arrested for an outdoor nude art photo shoot. The art world often uses nude models, and there are innumerable nude paintings famous around the world which are perfectly acceptable to be shown to the public. Breastfeeding women have come under fire for sharing photos of their exposed breasts while feeding their children, further demonstrating the sexualization of women.
One of the most common arguments in favor of various sex and body-based movements is the exposure of violence to the public. According to Ryot.com, Facebook recently lifted its ban on showing real-life decapitation, while showing the female areola and nipple is still not acceptable. Another argument involves what is known as “man-boobs,” when a male has an amount of breast tissue equal to that of the average woman. He is allowed to show his breasts while women, some of whom have breasts small enough to belong to the average adolescent male, do not have this freedom.
To quote “Free the Nipple,” “Film censors in America, like the [Motion Picture Association of America], allow excessive violence, yet discourage nudity in one of the most beautiful acts of humankind — making love … I just want to ask one simple question. What is so obscene about a woman’s body?”