You know what’s hilarious? The fact that although we are literally surrounded by sexual images in media and advertising, the moment a woman’s nipple is shown, it’s “pornographic” and “NSFW”.
Oh, did I say “hilarious”? I meant totally screwed up.
We are bombarded with beer ads plastered with scantily-clad women, magazine articles telling us what type of dress is most “sexy” for our body type, and the constant reminder that our bodies are supposed to be aesthetically pleasing for the enjoyment of others. However, women who bare it all, whether it be for sunbathing, breastfeeding, or any other non-sexual reason, they are immediately greeted with shock, anger, and a general “put that thing back where it came from or so help me” attitude.
Nipples are a natural part of the body that just so happen to be over-sexualized. We as a society like to make everything about sex in a not-so-subtle way, and then slap you on the wrist for “having your mind in the gutter”. Sex is an easy sell because it’s not only instinctual, it’s over-glorified; we do the same thing nowadays with food (but today I want to talk about boobs, not burgers).
It’s truly one of the fascinating double-standards that really shows us how odd our culture has become since the dawn of first-world civilization… Men’s nipples are not sexualized. It is not at all strange to see a shirtless man in public. In fact, when a guy is at the beach, it’s supposed to be weird if he is wearing a shirt. He (assuming he’s not too fat or too skinny or too pale or whatever other exciting standards we hold each other up to) is encouraged to prance around in the sand, nipples free to fly. But if you see a woman topless on a beach — SHIELD YOUR HUSBANDS’ AND CHILDREN’S EYES!
No really. Why?
It’s because we are making a bigger deal out of a non-sexual body part than necessary.
The thing people are confused about is the difference between sexual body parts and sexualized body parts. Men and women alike cover their sex organs in public because we believe for some convoluted reason that sex is shameful. Branching off of that, we deem nipples on women to also be shameful. The source of food for every newborn mammal who has ever existed is shamed because we cannot get over the fact that women have these wonderfully bouncy, sensitive fun-bags that men don’t.
It’s hard to see a future where it’s okay for everyone to walk around completely naked, but we could at least start small. We can each personally acknowledge on the most basic level that a woman’s nipples are no more scary than a man’s. Then we can start to accept the fact that breast-feeding in public is not a way to turn anyone on/ make anyone uncomfortable, but a way for a woman to feed her infant. Maybe once we’ve established those norms, we can go to a beach and see a woman topless without deciding that she is being indecent.
Until that day of nipple freedom comes, all we can do is keep making noise. Do what our generation does best: Tweet about it, write a Facebook post, pin articles on Pinterest, Instagram it up. Talk to your friends! Nothing will change until we make it change.