Women’s nipples have always been a point of contention in our society. However, recently they’ve received an influx of media attention due to movements like #FreeTheNipple and Chrissy Teigen’s battle with Instagram censors. Now, a simple Photoshop trick may be the final blow that knocks down the mighty censorship box.
Women have taken to posting topless photos of themselves with a male nipple covering the “offending area”. The trend seems to have been inspired by an artist named Micol Hebron who created a male nipple template last year on Facebook. The template was meant to ridicule the sexist double standard the media has for the human body part. She offered it up as a way for women to post their topless photos and still pass the social media community standards. However, in the wake of the current Instagram backlash against their nudity policy, this little nipple hack might be the key to stripping away all that’s wrong with censorship of the female form.
And this is not the first time Instagram has been confronted by its users for its censorship policies. Last year, artist Rupi Kaur’s photo of a woman with a menstrual blood stain on her pants was pulled twice by the site, and only reposted after they were hit by a flood of complaints. Could this clever nipple loophole be the thing that finally pulls all these absurd media censorship rules down? I think Chrissy Teigen said it best in a tweet she posted in response to her topless photo shoot pictures being removed repeatedly by Instagram:
the nipple has been temporarily silenced but she will be back, oh yes, she will be back
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) June 29, 2015
The reason movements like #FreeTheNipple are important goes far beyond media censorship. Most states have strict laws against flagrant nipple display, but again, only for women. According to Yahoo News, a woman can be arrested for indecent exposure if she “exposes the areola or nipple of her breast,” but only if someone else is present. And it just gets worse from there. In Louisiana, exposing “female breast nipples in any public place or place open to the public view with the intent of arousing sexual desire or which appeals to prurient interest or is patently offensive” can receive three years of jail time for a first-time offense and a $2500 fine.
And I’m sure if you argued that you weren’t trying to arouse anyone with your nipples, the court would find a way to prove you were. Men, on the other hand, have hardly any laws against publicly showing off their nipples, and there is absolutely no good reason for the distinction.
Up until the 1930s, men’s nipples were just as taboo as women’s are today. It was illegal for men to show their nipples until 1936, after a series of protests that took place on Coney Island and Atlantic City beaches. Their fight was not unlike what’s happening now on social media (minus all the technology), and actually succeeded in changing the laws in New York State barring male nipples from public view. Eventually, women’s nipples were also given the OK in the Empire State, and yet somehow women can still get slapped with indecent exposure simply because of how they are perceived by the world.
To that end I say, keep the nipple protest going, my breast-bearing friends! Follow Chrissy Teigen’s example, and use the #FreeTheNipple hashtag excessively with pictures of your own beautiful mammaries, either censored with the acceptable male cover or not. The more you post, the harder it will be for the media to censor all of them, and eventually the point of contention will be moot. After all, if nothing else, history shows us that nipples speak louder than words.