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Tops off for equality

author: alexa lawlor | staff writer

Free the Nipple

They, of course, were quick to respond with “no, girls can’t do that.” Why?

When I was a little girl, my parents and I went to the park on a hot summer day. All the little boys weren’t wearing shirts, so I figured that would be a good idea for me too. So, I asked my parents if I could take my shirt off too. They, of course, were quick to respond with “no, girls can’t do that.” Why? I was maybe five or six years old, so the changes that puberty would bring had definitely not started yet. So, why is it that little girls are being sexualized? Why is it that all women are being sexualized? The issue of women being treated as sexual objects has gone on so long, that the main purpose of a woman’s breast, to feed her baby, gets pushed aside. Then, when a woman attempts to use her breast for that purpose, especially in public, she becomes “gross,” “indecent,” and is asked to move somewhere else.

The sexualization of women, among many other social issues, is to what the Free the Nipple movement is trying to bring awareness and change. The goal of the movement is to “focus on the equality, empowerment, and freedom of all human beings,” as stated on the campaign’s website. The movement is named after the 2014 film of the same name, directed by Lina Esco. The film is a protest of the censorship of women’s breasts in America. The movement has quickly spread across the world, with the message that, “We believe that all human beings are created equal,” “We believe that the time for change is now,” and “We believe that together, through one unified voice, we can affect change globally.”

Recently, on Aug. 28, the eighth International Go Topless Day was celebrated throughout the world as part of the Free the Nipple movement. In Canada, a parade was held in Vancouver where it is, in fact, legal for both men and women to go topless. However, very few people actually know of respect this right. There were also events celebrating Go Topless Day in both Toronto and Montreal, as well as in cities all around the world. This event is not just for women, men can also participate, but the organizers ask that all men participating cover their nipples with tape, or by wearing a bikini top or a bra, to showcase how women are being subjected.

In my opinion, it is crucial that there are both women and men participating in events like this because it is a movement for gender equality. Gender equality can only be achieved by truly treating men and women as equals. A woman putting down a man to try and achieve superiority is not equality, even if they are doing it with good intentions, like trying to bring awareness to women’s issues; however, the importance of women cannot continue to be underestimated by men. Of course, not all men and women act in this way, but there are still enough cases of these mentalities to hinder the process of fully reaching gender equality.

Unfortunately, however, the photos taken at these events are often deleted from social media sites like Facebook and Instagram due to certain guidelines that prohibit nudity. These guidelines are definitely not helping to stop women being sexualized, considering shirtless pictures of men continue to be all over those same social media sites. The same issue is occurring on certain news websites, with women’s nipples yet again being censored, or the pictures being labeled as “not safe for work.” So, what exactly is the difference between a man’s nipple and a woman’s?

Although it’s impossible to expect quick change on an issue that has been slowly developing throughout most, if not all of history, campaigns like Free the Nipple are incredibly important. It is also important for everyone, not just women, to take a look at the goals of the movement, and truly understand them. Then, of course, the next step is to look at our own lives and behaviours, and make sure that we aren’t allowing the stereotypical treatment of women to continue.

About Alexa Lawlor