Free at last!
A U.S. Federal Court has ruled that women can now freely expose their breasts in public, based on the argument that there is no significant difference between male and female breasts, beyond, of course, a woman's ability to breastfeed, and that any law enforcing only one gender cover their breasts in public is a form of gender discrimination.
In May 2016, gender equality campaign Free The Nipple (FTN) sued Fort Collins, Colorado, for Ordinance No. 134, 2015, which was enacted one year earlier and states that girls and women older than 9 are banned from exposing their breasts in public unless they are breastfeeding.
Over the course of the 6 months prior, Free The Nipple staged protests throughout the city, during which they showed up topless in public spots around town with nothing but tape covering their breasts and nipples.
FTN's lawsuit against the ordinance asserted that:
“Discriminatory against girls, women, and LGBTQIA persons by making it a crime to show their breasts and/or nipples in any place where they might be viewed by others while allowing boys and men to show their breasts and/or nipples at any time or place without fear of arrest or prosecution.”
Luckily for them, District Judge R. Brooke Jackson seemed to agree.
According to this article from Anonymous News Network, Judge Jackson included the following in his ruling:
“I find that the ordinance discriminates against women based on the generalized notion that, regardless of a woman’s intent, the exposure of her breasts in public (or even in her private home if viewable by the public) is necessarily a sexualized act. Thus, it perpetuates a stereotype engrained in our society that female breasts are primarily objects of sexual desire whereas male breasts are not.”
Although this is not the final ruling on this matter, it signifies a HUGE step forward for the Free The Nipple Movement.
“The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment bars state governmental entities from discriminating between the sexes unless they have an ‘exceedingly persuasive justification’ for doing so. In this case, Fort Collins has on the books an ordinance that on its face discriminates against women.”
Personally, I am all for this ruling.
As a woman, I know right from wrong. I was brought up with the moral understanding that my body is a temple and I must protect it at all costs. That said, MY breasts are part of MY body, just like any other body part I have. I shouldn't feel afraid or ashamed for having them, and society shouldn't be able to dictate how I choose to present them in public.
As little kids, we start learning it's perfectly OK for boys to walk around shirtless, but if a girl takes her top off — even a girl who hasn't come close to hitting puberty yet — it's frowned upon. And I honestly think that's bullshit.
Take a 9-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy and stand next to each other with pants on and a screen covering their faces and I can guarantee you will NOT be able to tell which is male and which is female.
Obviously, I'm not saying we should do that, but we also shouldn't be giving girls the idea that female breasts are something to be ashamed of.
It doesn't help matters any that breasts are so heavily censored on social media or that women who breastfeed in public face such scrutiny from total strangers. Look at the irony of the fact that you will be highly unlikely to find a picture in which female breasts are shown without the nipples blurred out or covered with a black line included in any of the news stories on this very topic on mainstream media. Because that is a MAJOR no-no from Facebook, even if the pictures are inside of the article and it's been clearly tagged NSFW!
And ... why aren't female nipples safe for the work while I'm at it? Anyone? Bueller? ...
They're boobs! Get over it!
They come in all shapes and sizes on males, females, and people of all genders — and we as a society need to learn to embrace and normalize them for the younger generation.