DISCLAIMER: Some links go to websites with female nudity
Our world is filled with gender inequality and gender discrimination. As we have learned in class, there are arbitrary gender norms. One I did not notice on the list was that women cannot go shirtless in public. Most people agree that women’s breasts should not be exposed in public, but why? Why do we classify women’s breasts as inappropriate when men can go shirtless?
These questions relate to the latest reading: why was Caster discriminated against because of her body and the amount of testosterone in her system? Why does society treat women’s sports differently from men’s sports?
The Free the Nipple Campaign is a new movement to create equality between men and women, and legalize women being shirtless in public, especially in the situation of breastfeeding. They also want to end the censoring of breasts on television. Many people are outraged by the idea of women being able to “expose” themselves in public, but are completely fine with men being shirtless. If you approach the topic from a biological standpoint, breasts and man nipples have the same exact parts. Both male and female breasts are made up of breast tissue, arcola, and the nipples. The only difference is the size of breast tissue, however some men have large amounts of breast tissue and some women have very little.
The issue over breasts is comparable to the issue over testosterone. Caster Semenya has larger amounts of testosterone than the average women and she herself does not have female reproductive organs. Caster was born this way and her bodies development was out of her control. Her natural state gave her an advantage over other athletes, because large amounts of testosterone increases muscle mass, therefore making her faster and stronger. Even though her condition is no way in her control, society punished her for having an advantage, and they almost did not allow her to compete. The only reason she was allowed to participate in the 2012 Olympics was because she was forced to take estrogen, in order to lower her testosterone levels.
The changing of your chemical levels is equal to covering your breasts. In order for society to accept women, women must cover themselves, just like Caster had to lower her testosterone to be accepted. But also like Caster, women cannot control the fact that they have breasts or their natural breast sizes. Many people believe having a breasts is an advantage because men find them attractive, and women receive “special treatment” because of their breasts. This ‘advantage’ women have causes american society to punish them, and force women to cover their breasts. Both Caster and american women are/were punished for their natural advantage.
Not only are women’s bodes discriminated against, but women’s sports are discriminated against as a whole. After reading Mika‘s book, it became clear that women’s sports are viewed as disability sports. Women must have separate sports from men because women are viewed as less capable than men. This separation of sports is similar to the Free the Nipple Campaign. This campaign believes by society separating which gender can be topless and which gender doesn’t need to censored on television, society is choosing men as the dominant gender.
Mika’s argument in his book “…isn’t about dumbing down excellence in sport but simply about showing that disability can be perfectly compatible with excellence.” This theory is the same the Free the Nipple Campaign. This is because the campaign understands women’s breasts serve a different purpose than mens chests, but they believe that despite the differences, we should not discriminate against women and force women to cover up. Differences will always exist between men and women, however, we never let difference between people cause discrimination.
Lastly, the Free the Nipple Campaign relates to Suzy, the officer in the U.S Army that came and talked to our class. In her speech, she discussed the discrimination she faced as a women in the military. She also discussed how the army facilitates sexism because of the separation of men and women in the military. Women and men live in separate facilities, use separate showers and bathrooms, etc. The separating of the gender causes men to more easily discriminate against women. She said, that if men and women participated in the previous activities together, they would see each as family and equals rather than sexual objects, or people of lower status. Free the Nipple wants to free women’s breasts because it would help desexualize women and their breasts. The desexualization of women would help bring the genders together because the gender would be more equal.
The idea of allowing women to walk around topless is very uncomfortable for some people. People often have a hard time accepting something they are not used to, just like people were uncomfortable with accepting Caster because she was different. Although you do not need to agree with the Free the Nipple campaign, you must recognize that women (along with men) are discriminated against because of gender norms.