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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

#FreeTheNipple sounds alarm on double standards

Monday, June 29, Chrissy Teigen posted a series of topless photos of herself on her Instagram to celebrate a successful W Magazine shoot. Instagram took down her photo, which featured Teigen’s bare breasts, because they aren’t down with nudity. We may have recently gained marriage equality, but slut shaming and rampant gender policing are still issues we need to tackle. Freeing the nipple might be the next step.

The ban on female nipples isn’t recent. This nation has a history of shaming women who are autonomous in their sexuality and even goes so far as to shame new mothers who just want to breastfeed their children, an activity that needs to happen anywhere and at any time. Teigen’s post is a response to that.

After her initial post was removed, Teigen took to Twitter and vowed, “the nipple has been temporarily silenced but she will be back, oh yes, she will be back.”

Circumventing Instagram’s ironclad, nipple-free policy, Teigen filtered the image to look like a “fancy oil painting,” “a pencil sketch” and a “colored pencil drawing,” because “Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK,” according to Instagram. It should have been OK from the start, but it wasn’t.

Teigen isn’t the first celebrity to publicly fight back from gender policing on social media. According to Instagram’s policies, nudity is prohibited on the site unless showing photos of post-mastectomy scarring or women actively breastfeeding.

Scout Willis, daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, famously went topless in New York City and curated it on Twitter in response to Instagram’s policies. In an article by the website Feministing, Willis was quoted saying, “Why can’t a mother proudly breastfeed her child in public without feeling sexualized? Why is a 17-year-old girl being asked to leave her own prom because a group of fathers find her too provocative? Why should I feel overly exposed because I choose not to wear a bra?”

In the comments of various articles about Teigen’s breast-posting extravaganza, men and women shamed Teigen for “attention whoring.” By commenting things like “this isn’t bravery,” or “those tits are photoshopped,” harassment is transformed into a societal comment on who controls, possesses and distributes female bodies. (The answer is dudes.)

In a trailer for “Free the Nipple,” one of the protesters in the film states, “our sexuality is being taken away from us and being resold back.” The commodification of women is rampant and coupled with an aggressive culture of shaming and misinformation that continues to prevent equality.

Shaming isn’t exclusive to Teigen. Girls across the nation and in Canada have been kicked out of proms for being deemed too provocative, or had their yearbook photos photoshopped to increase sleeve length and raise necklines because their shoulders were causing problems for boys.

The notion that women are responsible to cover themselves and prevent the public from seeing their dirty, dirty bodies (especially the sexual spectacle of breastfeeding an infant in public) is an unacceptable perpetuation of the rape culture that insinuates only women can be responsible for not being raped.

Responding to the pervasive male gaze is an unfortunate truth women have to live with in 2015, but women should not be responsible for compensating for men who cannot control themselves. #FreeTheNipple is part of that gradual change.

“Women have to become politicians now if they want to post a boob or a confident picture of themselves,” said Kandy Jo, OSU alumna and one of Playboy’s 2013 Girls of the Pac-12. “We have to constantly justify every move we make.”

Jo is 100 percent on-board with #FreeTheNipple. Her stance reduces the argument to simple inequity.

“They’re saying, hey, the breast tissue, the nipple, on both genders are exactly the same, so why do females have to hide theirs and men don’t? That’s not okay,” she declared.

Jo, who is active on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, notes that if she sends a “long boob snap”out to her followers or to her story, she gets over 50 screenshots and more than 900 views. Clearly the men following her have no problem accepting her nipples over social media, so why should anyone in public?

Addressing the double standard in nip pics, Jo told me she might just start screenshotting boys who send her shirtless pictures and catcalling them.

“When the guys are out playing basketball without their tops on, we never in a million years would say that ‘they’re asking for it,’” she said.

So why should women continue to have to censor themselves?

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Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter.

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