FREE THE NIPPLE

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FREE THE NIPPLE

Shelby Tindall, Co-Managing Editor

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“Why is my nipple more obscene than a murder?” says one woman during the Free the Nipple Trailer.

Frequent traversers of the internet or social media may have come already across a #FreetheNipple during their browsing. Others may have never heard of it. What is Free the Nipple?

Free The Nipple is a film, an equality movement, and a mission to empower women across the world,” its website says. “We stand against female oppression and censorship, both in the United States and around the globe.”

In the film, a group of women run through the streets of New York topless. Despite the fact that it’s actually legal for women to go topless in New York, the women protest the cultural stigma against female nudity through both legal and artistic means. They back themselves with First Amendment lawyers to argue their freedom of expression and they also create graffiti installations and publicity stunts to attract attention toward hypocritical, female censorship, not only in the U.S., but around the globe.

The film garnered attention, inciting a fury on social media, which has allowed the movement itself to gain momentum. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Chelsea Handler have shown their support of the movement, posting topless pictures on Instagram and highlighting the hypocrisy of female censorship on social media.

The movement challenges people to question what has become the norm in today’s society. Why are gruesome and grisly scenes of violence and murder okay to be shown on screens, but a woman’s nipple is not? Why is a nipple more obscene than violence? Why must an inherent part of a woman’s body be censured? What is so scandalous about a body part all humans share?

The answer is, the nipple shouldn’t; it shouldn’t be obscene or scandalous. Biologically, there is very little difference between male and female nipples. By law, women are allowed to be topless in 33 states. Yet the nipple is still censored in the media. Mothers are frequently chastised for breastfeeding in public. It doesn’t make sense. We live in a supposedly free country yet women still aren’t entitled to the same rights as men. And as women we shouldn’t sit back and accept it, we should fight for it, as Lina Esco, the director of the film, is trying to do.

Some people argue that there are more important issues. What’s a censored nipple to one of the more pressing issues that women face, like unequal wages and rape? And while that is true, this seemingly small step can have a larger ripple effect in giving women the equal treatment that they deserve. Desexualizing the female breast will take away the negative power society has given them. It will stop women’s bodies from being sex objects to sell products. People judge a woman by her body; a woman’s breast are used to make judgments about her authenticity and femininity. If we want women to be respected and valued for their character and abilities, not their body, we must take away the power and sexuality of the breast.

Of course, people may also say that showing the nipple is inappropriate. Yet, a man’s nipple is fine. When people see a man topless, they are not subject to same harassment and injustices that women are. I say, a woman’s body is not something to be hidden and deemed inappropriate. If women can show décolletage, what’s the big deal if they show a nipple too? If it’s not inappropriate for men, it shouldn’t be for women either. And there is absolutely nothing inappropriate about a mother doing something as natural as caring for her child the way that God created her to, with her breasts.

The only meaning the nipple has is the one we give it. Society tells us a woman’s nipple should be hidden; that it is wrong to be shown. Well, society also used to say that women shouldn’t show their ankles, but that obviously doesn’t hold true today. The female nipple isn’t something that needs to be hidden. If we choose to desexualize the nipple and see it for what it truly is —  another part of the human body —  it doesn’t have to be “inappropriate.” The female nipple shouldn’t be a disreputable quality for women, charged as a crime. So let’s free the nipple.

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