Note: This is talking about primarily assumed cis women’s bodies, however, I have used the language “women”, because it applies to other women too, as addressed in post. I have not yet covered how #freethenipple has intersected with other movements, especially that of the racialised angle.
Everywhere on the internet you see them, those insidious sidebar advertisements, the ones that make you feel mildly uncomfortable yet more than a little compelled to click them: The Boobtervisments. The Boobverts. The Boobbait.
Okay, so it’s not the smoothest portmanteau in the world, but you get the picture. Those endless clickbait articles, mainly featuring breasts, sometimes branching out into the land of butts or maybe even cameltoe and groin areas, always featuring women in “suggestive” positions, surely on the verge of revealing something earthshatteringly amazing, right?
Now, I’ve been a teenager. A “straight” female teenager who wasn’t really exposed to either porn nor relationships, but regardless, these adverts worked on me. I definitely clicked on more than a few suggestively captioned clickbaits because for some reason, I thought the nearly naked ladies there meant that there would be something exciting on the other end. Inevitably, the results were somewhat ….lacking. Anyone else remember the peak of the Reply Girl epidemic?
But isn’t this insulting? Isn’t this just proving all of these ideas about how we’re wired to find breasts attractive, and who gives a damn about the #freethenipple autonomous owners of said breasts? Nevermind that at the time I’m a *straight* teenage female, even I cannot resist the lure of the sexy sexy ladeez! It’s proof, once and for all, that women have been imbued with a strange power to control others, just through the power of existing in their biologically designated female bodies! Cue a barrage of completely one-sided studies in which so-called scientists completely ignore established theories of socialisation and conclude that yes, indeed, men are in fact, controlled by teh boobiez.
Well actually, maybe they aren’t, and maybe, ironically, the evil short-sighted feminists with their brazen support of completely outrageous situations like topless female humans which will clearly cause havoc on the street may be your best friends. Yes, you, the one sitting there scoffing about the inherent sexual nature of the human female breast and completely ignoring cultures in which toplessness peacefully exists in
both all genders.
You see, I used to be like you. I used to be completely tantalised by the suggestion of a potentially nude female human adult, real or not real. The idea of toplessness in public scandalised and thrilled me, in a far more glamorous exciting way than a male flasher would be viewed. (more on that later, I promise).
When tumblr started filling my feed with the occassional topless and non sexualised woman, it would be a lie to say I was blindsided at the concept. They were still nekkid, it was still rude and shocking…right? They are still BOOBS, you can’t ignore that! Or can you?
After time, I’ve realised, I’m beginning to see breasts and female nipples in a completely new light. No, not the completely desexualised Marxist dystopian nonsense you fear and dread in equal measures, but in a completely natural human way that feels supicously like how we’re meant to see them. Like bits on a chest of a person. Like part of a person’s body, that can be attractive, or average, titillating, or not, depending on context, depending on how attractive you found the person who’s body they are on. Kinda, exactly like a male chest. It’s just a chest, shaped like that. It’s not a chest plus two melons, it’s not a chest plus two apples, it’s just a chest, all of it.
And I think that this is the solution. Many in the manosphere live in fear of the power of a woman’s naked or nearly naked frame. There’s article after article about it, joke cartoons (see above) and serious book covers, it’s a genuine fear. And it’s a fear that’s going to be incredibly difficult to fix the way that they are viewing it. Some people start to get the right message, but for completely the wrong reasons, whereas others, they completely miss the point so far they’ve gone backwards. See this reddit thread about how women in porn are really ugly because they are “just” naked and have less make up on. See, these people get to the point that nudity is just that, nudity, but conclude that this means women have even less to give than they assumed, plus no power over them, and therefore HA! WE WIN WOMEN! HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT!?….which kinda completely misses the point.
Women don’t have the power of magical bodies. We have the power of objectified bodies. Our bodies are the chosen symbol for sex. Yes, all of our bodies. The hint of nipple represents happiness, fulfilment, intimacy, and presents it as something that can be imitated by merely seeing a nude woman, and gained by actually being with one.
As any person who has ever had sex either as or with an adult human female can tell you, this simply isn’t true. Many in the manosphere refuse to believe this, such as Roosh, the redpillian turned pseudo philosopher, and take to simply chasing for the better and “better” girls to gain, hoping that this time, it’s going to make the difference. Inevitably, it doesn’t. They might find happiness with some women, but this is on a whole other level to “the naked lady equals happiness” suggested by mainstream media.
This simply lands a lot of responsibility on said women. To first, be the sexy woman worthy of being objectified and symbolising this elusive nirvana, and to secondly, guard this nirvana appropriately. This is where #freethenipple comes in with all those loud mouthing feminists to really screw things up. We throw things off kilter, we demand that we do the complete opposite of guarding these gateways. We demand that we expose women as much as possible, as much as they the individuals chose to, and without sexualising them. And admidst cries of “impossible” and “breasts are sexual organs”, the tide is beginning to turn, even if it’s just with the people using the hashtag. We’ll wait for you to catch up, honest.
If women as a whole refuse to play to role of gate-keeper, and continue to resolutely shatter the illusion that there is anything interesting or holy stuck up there in our crevices then maybe, just maybe, the wider public is going to begin to believe us that we’re just average living breathing human beings, and stop shoving pictures of underboob in front of us like it’s something groundbreaking.
Note: Some images updated 7.3.2020 due to broken links.