Story by Zoe Collenburg, Saint Reporter
Image courtesy of Etsy.com
Let’s get real, what is the #FreeTheNipple other than White Feminism at it’s finest and most hidden form? This movement is not about reclaiming your body, it’s not about public breastfeeding, it’s not addressing the sexualization of the female body— it is just a social media phase of women pushing for the public display of their nipples with little to no political action or solution.
Don’t get me wrong, women should be equal to men and our bodies should not be sexualized and sold, but why are we putting so much effort into a movement that doesn’t enact change? The #FreeTheNipple Movement focuses on stopping oppression through the censorship of the female nipple. While it is an issue, this movement is solely focused on social media, barely even dealing with laws prohibiting women in real life. Women should not be shamed for their choices of what parts of their own bodies they do or do not show in public. This goes for breastfeeding, slut shaming, and the sexualization of the female body. It doesn’t bring these issues to light, but claims them under it’s umbrella, and then does nothing. While I will give it to you that this issue does have a lot of implications and impacts, the main issues of censoring the female nipple are not dealt with in the movement.
This movement is White Feminism at its finest. We are in the midst of fighting for women to be safe while walking the streets, for equal pay, for protection in abusive situations, for the rights of transsexual and transgendered people, for the rights of women of color, for the rights of the LGBTQ community, for the right to be equal in the eyes of the law. We live in a country where two years ago, the state of Texas passed legislation directly preventing at least 34% of women in the state from voting- that’s about a million women. The law has been in rotation for years, but it finally became voter legislation, weeks before Texas voted for their new Governor in 2013, with the first female candidate in years.This piece of legislation, and others of the like, is what we need to be fighting, not complaining about not being able to not wear a shirt outside in public. If you take a look at the #FreeTheNipple website, the only picture up, is of six white, skinny to average sized women running shirtless with jeans and capes, their hair flying behind them. If that picture doesn’t sum up White Feminism, then I don’t know what does. Women are fighting for their lives while white, straight, cis, healthy, middle to upper class women complain about not getting to legally go shirtless in public.
Free The Nipple would be a valid movement if it discussed and provided solutions for women being harassed and mistreated for breastfeeding in public, if it fought against slut shaming and the sexualization of women, if it brought attention to not having to wear a bra and then helped women who had been mistreated for their choices to their body, if it fought for equal rights in an encompassing, real way. But it doesn’t. It is distracting from real issues with real power and real impact. Stop trying to #FreeTheNipple. Let go of White Feminism. Look at what your personal brand of Feminism is fighting for. Move forward into Intersectional Feminism. Fight the Patriarchy.