Thursday, 10 September 2015

Lady nipples and other oddities.


Let's talk about nipples. Lady nipples. Because I think there's a little bit of an issue surrounding the *sensitive* area. More than one issue, actually, the whole thing is just a bit of a shambles.

Firstly, perhaps, we should discuss the issue within the issue that, when considering all the other debacles going on in the world, freeing the nipple is possibly not the highest priority for all women. It isn't my highest priority, but it does fit onto my list somewhere. It fits onto my list because when I consider all the wonderful ways in which men and women are unequal the sexualisation of body parts has for a long time been a little unbalanced. I say a little, I mean a lot. My sister recently saw a Twitter user with their feathers ruffled over the Free the Nipple campaign and they exasperated over the fact that when men look at boobs it's all come the revolution and when women look at crotches no one says a word. The silence on this issue could possibly be because no woman ever has stared hungrily at a stranger's crotch during conversation but then again I could be wrong. Either way, the sexualisation of the female body has been overhyped to the point where the two lumpy things on a woman's chest become the centre of her attraction to all other humans and often the bane of her life. In fact, they have almost become an object of power: squidge them together in a tight top for a job interview and you could be well on your way to a prosperous career. But it isn't the actual boob we have a strange complexity about, it's namely the nipple.

A woman can walk around with the majority of her lady lumps very much on show to the world and, without too much fuss, can spend the day very happily. She will get leers and stares and beeps from white vans and a cat call or two but it is allowed and she is free to do as she wishes. Until, of course, a woman might decide that the day is too hot and she wants to liberate her breasts to avoid tan lines or just to feel the fresh air or perhaps because that's just the way she likes it. This is not allowed unless you are on a swanky beach in the South of France. The woman must keep her tiny, round nipples concealed from all eyes because God forbid. I have still not worked out exactly why this may be the case. A man is as free as a bird to show off his nipples, and plenty a man nipple I now have seen, but it is simply too much for the whole of society to see an entire boob. The children would cry, the men would just collapse. All of man kind would feel deeply offended and we would spend the rest of the day in shock.


Thinking that boobs are especially hot is not a natural occurence. It is a fetish. Some men from other cultures actually think that our men are weird for liking boobs as much as they do. They compare our men to babies because they are so attached to the thing that first feeds us as infants. We have perpetuated this specific sexualisation and we have made up the rules to say that exposing a woman's nipple is wrong.

I support the Free the Nipple campaign not only because it's a strange, outdated inequality that says more about our prudishness than anything else, but also because of how it limits women sexually. Girls and boys are told at a young age that boobs, once past the age of breastfeeding, are entirely sexual. This means that when a girl grows boobs she immediately becomes an object of sex for the boys disregarding any other area in her development. She is told that these are her most sexually powerful asset and that if she flaunts them about too much she will overuse this power. She is told that men enjoy this part of her, but, unless she's lucky, she's never told what part of her she might enjoy herself.  I totally understand the fascination, they're a pretty funky body part, but I really don't think they're that special.

In the 1930s men in New York campaigned to free their own nipples after four men were arrested for going topless to Coney Island. It worked and now it is considered the norm in most of western civilisation. Man nipples fine - woman nipples not fine.

I have never had a truly great desire to go topless on a hot day even if it was uncomfortably warm and I never really gave it much thought. But, having given it more thought, that resistance probably comes from the conditioning I have received about the meaning of breasts in my society. They are a sexual object and therefore must not be shown in public. I believed that for a while, and now I'm inclined to break those rules in order to undo what we've all been taught. I believe that the Free the Nipple campaign has a well intentioned purpose in terms of women's sexual liberation and their regard for their own bodies. When I build up enough courage, I think I may start to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. And I hope there are many other women who think it well to join me.

If by some miracle the campaign is successful and it becomes legal and more normalised to show lady nipple in public it won't mean that all women will be obliged to do the same. I don't think I would feel a constant need to be topless, but men don't get that urge either. It is just another step towards liberation, and more liberation means more equality and more equality (between every man and woman with all their colours, shapes, sizes and minds) is good.