Thursday, 26 November 2015

Thursday Thoughts: Free The Nipple

A (longer than usual) note from Joelle... 
Free The Nipple
When I first heard about the 'Free The Nipple' campaign a few years ago, I thought it was bizarre. I thought it was a publicity stunt by radical feminists who were wasting time fighting for something that wasn't actually that important.

"Why on earth do women want to expose their breasts?"
"Children will become too desensitised to sexual things if they see boobs bobbing about everywhere."
"Men will feel awkward and it will probably make more women uncomfortable about their bodies."
These are all things I used to think about women wanting the same treatment as men when it came to going topless in public.

And then it hit me. Why isn't it okay?  What's so offensive about breasts?
How we view women's sexuality and bodies needs to be changed drastically and ASAP.

I'm going to address each of my old questions one-by-one:

"Why on earth do women want to expose their breasts?"
Why on earth do men want to? Not all men do, but they have a choice to on a beach or on a hot day somewhere. That's what it's about - the choice. Women and men are still not equal when it comes to their bodies within society and that is a big problem .

"Children will become too desensitised to sexual things if they see boobs bobbing about everywhere."
Are you sure about this one, Joelle? Because even today, when you're more likely to see a pig fly than a woman with bare breasts in the city centre, children still know what breasts look like - they are more digitally equipped than previous generations. It's on TV, on billboards, in magazines, in music videos and explicit adult films. However, these examples who breasts as objects before natural assets that actually have a biological purpose (e.g. breastfeeding). Removing the laughs and "glamour" around breasts to begin with may help both boys and girls respect them more.
And it all boils down to the sex and relationship education we received from our school and parents. The British syllabus is abysmal and needs serious reform. 
Research has shown that a lack of good sex/relationships (aka THE FACTS) education at school-age directly correlates with the rise of teen/uneraged pregancies and sexual assults.
Britain is the worst in Europe - suprise, suprise
Teen birth rates (even though the age of consent is as low as 15 in some European countries) continue to fall, because of sex education that is taken seriously. No "mock" names are given to sexual organs, just the scientific names and facts.
That takes the awkwardness and "jokes" out of the vital education and actually makes students appreciate and understand their bodies without feeling embarrassed.
"The Dutch take sex very seriously – and their focus on education for young children pays off when they grow up". - The Guardian, 2011. Boom. No messing about - just facts.

You could argue that they have a lower population so you can't compare, blah blah blah... but they are definitely doing something that we Brits need to get on board with.

"Men will feel awkward and it will probably make more women uncomfortable about their bodies."
"Feeling awkward" isn't a good-enough excuse to criminalise female nudity and censor female breasts. Instead of automatically judging, Joelle, I challenge you to think about why you/some men  feel awkward in those situations. Does it have something to do with the fact that breasts have become so sexualised that actually seeing one in the flesh (pun intended) puts you on edge? Hmmm.
In relation to female self-esteem, the sexualisation of breasts in the media has created a generation of females who currently think there's one acceptable aesthetic: symmetrical, perfectly-spherical, gravity-defying DDs. 
Removing the censorship around the female form will hopefully open up a discussion addressing the fact that all shapes and sizes are fine and desirable. It's normal to compare the stuff we have with other people - it's normal. But the key is generating conversations, promoting awareness about breast health and saving lives.

This campaign isn't actually just about giving the women the right to parade around the streets topless (male or female, it's cold out there, y'know).
Even in the day-and-age, women STILL don't have control over their own bodies and that's what the movement is challenging! In some US states, women can be arrested for going topless in public. And in the UK, well, we all know about that ridiculous breastfeeding scandal that happened during the general election.

In today's society, it's okay to pay to see women's breasts in a newspaper/"lad's" mag, strip club or porn site, etc. - for entertainment and arousal.
But when a woman is owning her own body in public (e.g. feeding her baby or sunbathing), she is made to feel dirty and ashamed for doing something so natural.

Bare breasts aren't only for the male gaze and it shouldn't belong just in a 2D glossy format. They are more than that and we all know that deep down, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.

To be honest, can't even run up or down the stairs braless (#ThePainIsReal), so I doubt I'll be going topless around town anytime soon. 
But I want the choice to be there. I want to live in a world where I don't have to censor my own body and feel ashamed of having something so cool and natural.
This movement is the catalyst needed to drive the conversation along about many other injustices and issues regarding the female body.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, I know what you're thinking: "But Joelle, didn't you write an article about banning Page 3? One minute you want boobs banned, and next you want them free. You're a hypocrite!"
Well, banning Page 3 isn't about telling women to not expose their breasts - honestly! It's all about context and a family newspaper isn't the place for soft porn. How can you have an article about current affairs on one page and then a topless model posing on the nest? It doesn't make sense. 

Also, the models in Page 3 expose their breasts for the sole intention of arousing men. They are told how to stand, how to pose and how "desirable" they are from people they don't know that well. They are not in control even if they think they are because they chose to model.
"Look at the tits on that", *lots of laughter*, I once heard a boy of around 12/13 say to his friend on a bus to college. They were flicking through a camera roll full of topless women they had probably taken from a tabloid somewhere.
"Her" became "that" - a thing. The woman is now an object, not a person. And it's sad that most people wouldn't even notice that.

Furthermore, a woman owning her body and posting a topless image in social media, like Twitter and Instagram will be flagged and removed within hours, yet masses amounts of pornographic images of nude women are easily accessible on those same websites. Interesting.

Breasts have been so overly-sexualised (e.g. topless women in video games, porn, Page 3 etc.) that we have forgotten what their biological use is. What the fuck is wrong with us humans? How have we allowed ourselves to become so basic?
Free The Nipple

A mother breastfeeding her child in public has nothing to do with you or your wondering eyes. She will not let her newborn starve because you find it uncomfortable seeing a bit of breast. Look away.

A woman on a beach with her bikini off does not and will not ever make her a "slut" or a "slag", because guess what? She doesn't want those annoying tan lines. It has nothing to do with wanting attention or "asking for it".

We need to check our breasts often and love them no matter what anyone else thinks of them. If we are fortunate-enough to still have ours, we have a right to take care of them, enjoy them and do want we want with them.

Every single person on this planet deserves to have control over their own bodies without being judged. 

The male and female supporters of the Free The Nipple movement are reclaiming our nipples from the itchy nuisance that is today's unjust society and it feels great to be right there with them. 
It's time we set 'em free and be free in return.

Agree? Disagree? Not sure? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 
You don't have to agree with me, but you have to agree with yourself - no one else but yo'self.


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