Society Magazine

Why ‘Free The Nipple’ Is An Important Feminist Movement

Posted on the 23 September 2015 by Juliez


“It’s just an excuse for sluts to be naked all the time.”

This was my mother’s response to my attempt to explain the importance of the Free the Nipple movement. Although I disagree, I also know that the discussion surrounding the inequality at the heart of public nudity laws and the stigma that surrounds exposed female nipples is one that has been heightened more than ever before in recent years.

No matter the movement’s relative newness, however, I’m still baffled by the fact that the female body is still seen as inappropriate and worthy of censorship. We are all born with nipples, so why must half the population live in a censored world where their nipples are unacceptable while the other half has the right to expose them as they please?

The answer, it seems, lies in the sexist belief that women simply want to flaunt their bodies in public. One need look no further for evidence of this than the stringent censorship that led social media companies to delete countless photos featuring women’s exposed nipples for no apparent reason other than the conception that their bodies are “offensive.”

The truth is that those who advocate for this movement do so with the intention of obtaining equal rights — and a growing group of activists are committed to proving this. This summer, for example, hundreds of topless protesters paraded the streets of 60 cities in the name of Free the Nipple. Rachel Jesse, who led the GoTopless group in Manhattan, explained that the campaigners “want women to have the same rights as men to go topless in public.” Yet tabloids that published stories about these bare-chested protests still censored women’s nipples in every photograph — proving just how much work these activists have left to do.

Ultimately, the Free the Nipple movement is not about allowing women to “flaunt” their bodies. It’s about pushing back on a society that views women’s bodies as inappropriate and the shame this creates. It’s high time we recognize that.

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