There has been a lot of talk recently about female nipples on social media.
About how Instagram and Facebook’s guidelines of what is considered “appropriate” and what is not, are questionable and promote a double standard. Whilst topless pictures on the platform often get flagged but usually remain active, what gets removed are those that feature the female nipple.
But not in all cases…
So first of all, what’s so special about the female nipple anyway? And secondly, why are some nip slips allowed, while others are not?
Weirdly, there is no consensus as to why the female nipple is considered a sexual organ whilst men’s nipples are just… well, nipples.
Some say it has to do with culture and give examples of places in the world where the female breast is no big deal. Some talk about how breasts evolved as a way to signal to men that the woman attached to them is nutritionally advantaged and youthful (too bad if your boobs are saggy). And some think it has to do with our breastfeeding days and a weird mommy complex men have (which I think we can all agree is rather off putting).
Whatever the reason is, the result is a double standard treatment when it comes to freeing the nip.
But it wasn’t always like that.
About 75 years ago, no one could go topless. Men or women. Then, in 1935, a group of topless men in Atlantic City protested, and by 1936, the bare male chest became accepted as a social norm. Today, men can walk around topless anywhere without it being an issue, whilst women – not so much.
In fact, it is illegal for a woman to take her shirt off in 36 states and only three states have laws explicitly forbidding exposing nipples.
The reason is that the female nipple is still considered lewd pretty much everywhere, except at nude beaches and resorts.
And the same ‘nip free’ attitude is true for social media (with Twitter being the exception).
BUT, and this is what I am coming to, if you scroll through your news feed for long enough, you might come across some nipples and think – “hey, I thought this was a big no, no, so what gives?”
It seems that not all nipples are banned.
Facebook’s policy state that nudity can be shared for a variety of reasons, including as a form of protest, to raise awareness about a cause or for educational or medical reasons. They add that while they restrict some images of female breasts that include the nipple, they allow other images, including those of women actively engaged in breastfeeding and photos of post-mastectomy scarring.
So, the bottom line, and correct me if I am wrong – is that actually it’s not the nipple that’s the issue after all.
I mean, if the nipple was the problem, surly there would be no case in which it would be allowed to appear on the platforms, right?
With all due respect to the ‘nipple police’ it seems to me that what we have here is yet another case of ‘let’s tell women what behaviour is inappropriate’, not what body part.
I will explain: if you were to post a picture of you breastfeeding a baby, (an activity which is generally considered good and is encouraged because you are fulfilling your purpose as a female on this planet (I am being sarcastic)), your picture is going to stay up. But if you want to post a topless picture of yourself watering your cherry tomatoes in your garden, well then I am sorry missy, that’s just not okay.
Why is that?
I’ll tell you why – control.
You can excuse it all you want and say till you are blue in the face that it has to do with modesty and other BS (which btw is a whole other discussion for another time), but the bottom line is – if some pictures are okay, then all the pictures should be okay.
This may come as a shock to some people, but a nipple is a nipple regardless of what activity it is engaged in.
So maybe the real question is: why are people still telling women what to do?