Why I'm Not Afraid To Free The Nipple

Why I'm Not Afraid To Free The Nipple

Free the nipple; free the woman.
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Having my naked body plastered online for all to see has taught me a lot. Mostly, I've learned that nakedness and vulnerability are not synonymous with shame, and that revealing my body does not ruin me. It has not ruined me.

We live in a society where women's bodies are oppressed- considered obscene, lewd, and pornographic. Naked breasts are banned from virtually all social media and censored on our television screens. Breastfeeding mothers are often shamed from publicly feeding their children. We are taught that our nipples are inappropriate, indecent, and shameful. At the same time, we are told that women's bodies are sacred and inviolable. What should really be sacred is the shameless ownership of our own nakedness.

Female toplessness is accepted and praised in many countries around the world, however, in the United States, it is considered a felony. In thirty-five states, it is presently considered illegal for a woman to be topless- including breastfeeding mothers. In some states, toplessness can lead to arrests and fines of up to $2500.

At birth, male and female breasts are virtually identical, including a nipple and areola. Both male and female breasts contain connective tissue, fat, and muscle. During puberty, however, the female body begins to change- along with the societal mindset over what is considered publicly acceptable. At this time, female breasts develop milk-producing lobules, allowing a female to lactate. Lactation is the only differing feature between male and female nipples. This is not a indecently sexual or pornographic component- but is essential for providing food and bond between mother and child. Another difference between men and women's breasts is size. While women's breasts come in a variety of sizes, from relatively flat-chested to extremely busty, it is more common for men's breasts to remain relatively flat. However, male breasts are subject to enlargement due hormonal or weight issues.

At this point you may be wondering: Are we legitimately censoring female nipples because they produce milk? By this logic, should we censor the caps on milk cartons, too?

I next wanted to know WHY women's breasts are considered so sexually lewd. What I learned is that fat in the breasts signals high reproductive value and potential. What this means is that men intuitively view women's breasts as indicative of reproduction while women do not receive these same indicators from men's breasts. AKA- the size of a woman's breasts subconsciously indicates high reproductive value for men.

Women's nipples are considered indecent because they can produce milk and somehow subconsciously indicate thoughts of reproduction in men? This cannot be true. This seems too lackluster to be true. I was expecting to learn that the female nipple contains black magic that is simply too horrific to reveal to the public. Tell me we aren't being oppressed just because of a biological and hormonal difference. Unfortunately, we are.

Fortunately, the jailing of women's bodies is beginning to spark outrage and worldwide conversation about the price of shame. Women are realizing that we should not be degraded because of hormonal differences. We have just as much right to be topless as our male counterparts. Toplessness is not just the freedom to leave your shirt or bra in the laundry- but rather the freedom of knowing that women and men are equal and can freely display their bodies without shame or sexual stigma. By censoring our nipples, society is conveying the message that we do not deserve to be seen. That we must be hidden, covered up, ashamed.

In 2016, little girls deserve to grow up knowing that their nipples are nothing to be ashamed of. By merging the gap between men and women via our bodies, we take steps towards gender equality in all forms. Perhaps one day, we will live in a society where there is no gender gap. By freeing women's bodies, we begin to free the woman.

Free the Nipple is a women's empowerment and equality movement that has sparked an international dialogue about injustice over unnecessary censorship of women's bodies. It is a film, social media phenomenon, and grassroots campaign. I strongly encourage you to learn more about this progressive organization that is leading the fight for the freedom of women's bodies.

Presently, the nipple is stigmatized and over-sexualized. With short term progressive efforts, society will slowly normalize female toplessness. Eventually, the long term effect of female toplessness is the normalization of the naked female nipple and the end of unjust censorship .

We have been oppressed for centuries by those who think women should be ashamed for living freely in their own skin. I believe that owning our bodies and being unashamed of our nakedness is just the revenge WE women need.



Cover Image Credit: Buzzsaw Magazine

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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