‘Free the Nipple’ to Support Gender Equality and Fair Censorship Laws

2 years ago
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Photo: Free the Nipple

Free the Nipple!

No, Russia hasn’t put a nipple where Pussy Riot used to be.

“The nipple” isn’t Justin Bieber, and this isn’t the slogan its fans are printing onto cutoff tees in objection to the law’s treatment of it.

Shirts are exactly what Free the Nipple isn’t about. It’s a film, and a movement, encouraging people of both sexes to stand up against society’s wrongful censorship of the female body — the banning and blurring of something we’ve all seen, and sucked on, before:

Why is the female body censored in movies while blood and gore are not? Surely, watching a violent horror film is more traumatizing than seeing a naked woman, or watching her have fake movie sex.

“People would rather have their kids watch a super violent film than watch a woman having any kind of sexual pleasure or even just a scene showing a nipple,” Twilight actress and Free the Nipple act-ivist Casey LaBow told RYOT. “They’d rather their kids see a terribly violent film than see a female areola.”

Lina Esco is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and the director of Free the Nipple. She says the film isn’t just about boobs, but about glaring gender inequalities in movies and in life. Like the fact that “for every dollar a man makes, a woman’s still making 77 cents.”

“In the movie, Charlie Countryman, they had to remove a scene of Shia LaBeouff going down on Evan Rachel Wood in order for it to get an R, opposed to an NC-17, rating,” added Esco. The rest of the film features uncensored gun violence and people getting their heads blown off.

Facebook recently lifted its ban on real-life decapitation videos, but tit-pics still aren’t allowed. Why?

Boobs are only so over-sexualized because they’ve been hidden for so long. Even breastfeeding in public is looked down upon in Western cultures. Yet in other parts of the world, women live everyday life with their chests uncovered, thus demythologizing and desexualizing them.

They’re just boobs. Big blobs of breast tissue. What women choose to do, or allow others to do, with them is where the sexy part comes in.

While some say censoring the female body promotes equal rights and respect, others argue that it actually encourages misogyny and the mistreatment of women. “Natural, normal sensuality is not really shown to us throughout our lives,” said Casey. “We’re very shielded from it, and because of that, our curiosity is so peaked. Because of this censorship, many people are introduced to sex and sexuality through pornography, which is male-centric and aggressive towards women.”

The point of Free the Nipple isn’t to convince women to set their shirts and bras alight, then dance around the feminist fire. The point is to start a conversation about censorship, about violence in movies and violence against women, and about the true definition of feminism: equality for all.

If you’re a woman who believes in gender equality, you’re a feminist. If you’re a man who believes in gender equality, you’re a feminist too.

“The nipple is the first thing we see when we’re born,” said Esco. “It nourishes us. When did it become such a bad thing? When did it become a crime?”

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