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Facebooks fear of nipples is
If you take your top off in a busy London street and youre a man barely anyone bats an eyelid. You can strut around, take a few selfies, post them to Facebook or Instagram. This same freedom doesnt apply to women. Because, nipples.
The thing is, to different people, the nipple has different meanings. To some, its a symbol of wholesome motherhood, to others its an emblem of their sexuality. For many its just a nipple. A functional body part that every man and every woman has.
Ultimately it should be up to the owners of said nipples to decide what their nipples are.
While theres not actually a law banning women from being topless in the UK, you could find yourself arrested for disorder, indecency, or breach of peace, as these legal terms are not strictly defined.
In the US, nipple censorship is even worse. You may already know the Free the Nipple campaign, started by director Lina Esco because its still illegal for a woman to be publicly topless in 37 states.
But while we Brits might be able to get away with topless sunbathing, or even the odd naked country walk, its a different deal altogether on social media.
Facebook has long sensored the nipple. Its upset new parents by banning photographs of mums breastfeeding. Its aggravated artists and photographers who want to post or share their depictions of the female form. Its annoyed women who simply dont agree with the idea that their bodies should be either sexualised or policed by others, especially on a platform where mens bodies arent.
Just this week, Facebook has came under fire for censoring an image shared by a cancer patient in order to raise awareness of how to spot symptoms.
Real-life nipple spotters
Ive often wondered how platforms like Facebook, or Instagram, manage to maintain their nipple censorship.
You might have assumed that there was some fancy algorthym that could detect and block female areola, but it turns out there isnt. An actual person goes through Facebook and flags any nipple pics they deem inappropriate.
This was confirmed last night by Simon Milner, Facebooks policy director for UK, the Middle East, Africa and Turkey at the Home Affairs Select Committee.
An viral meme in the making, a Vine video posted by Siraj Datoo, UK Political Reporter at BuzzFeed, has now been viewed 175,000 times since it was posted last night.
Theres no technology that detects nipples, female nipples, Milner is seen to say.
If theres no technology, no magic nipple-finder, then you can assume theres a lot of work that goes into keeping womens bits in line.
Maybe if Facebook ploughed less manpower (and therefore money) into keeping the nipple under wraps, theyd have a little more left in the pot to pay their taxes
Kitty Knowles is a Senior Features Writer at The Memo.
Kitty previously worked as an online journalist for GQ. She
can be found tweeting @KittyGKnowles.
Is Facebook So Scared of Nipples?
Id argue, though, that anyone who cares about the way all womens bodies are depicted online, like #FreeTheNipple advocates, ought to be anything but happy with this development. Because instead of correcting the double standard that means men can go topless and women cant, Facebooks new policy just reinforces another sexist double standard: the Madonna-whore dichotomy, and its implication that our bodies are either obscene sexual objects or sacred but desexualized baby-nurturing machines.
We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and were glad to know that its important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook, says the new Facebook policy. Speaking of double standards: Talking about mens bodies in such a precious and patronizing way is unimaginable. Life begins in the testicles, but men dont celebrate Fathers Day by sharing pictures of their ball sacks. (And even if they did, we probably wouldnt praise them as beautiful and natural.)
More important, the subtext of Facebooks decision is that boobs are necessarily obscene even when women deploy them for art or activism or because they are Rihanna. In fact, one need look no further than Rihannas (Facebook-owned) Instagram to see how the world feels about the women who embrace their bodies. Rihannas account an important component of her fashion-world influence has been inactive in protest ever since the site removed her picture of a topless magazine cover last month. Meanwhile, the site deemed artist Petra Collinss bikini line more obscene than the millions of other #bikini photos because she didnt wax. And after being banned for posting a photo of a photo of a topless woman, Scout Willis protested by posting pictures of herself shopping for flowers topless on Twitter. Legal in NYC but not on @Instagram, she wrote. These gestures all showcased a playful confidence and sense of comfort thats conspicuously absent from most of the female bodies that were used to seeing in various states of undress. Theyre not straightforwardly seductive in the manner of typical commercial nudity (want me, want this car), nor are they comfortably maternal and theyre perfectly suited to the register of blithe self-exposure weve come to expect on social media.
Thats whats insidious about micro-moderating female nudity on sites like Facebook and Instagram, deeming breast-feeding nipples acceptable and others pornographic: It keeps us locked into the same old toxic relationships to the female body. As a reflection of the worlds culture, Facebook continues to be a place in which depictions of women as sexually objectified or debased is broadly allowable, Chemaly writes, but others, in which women represent their own bodies for non male-gaze sexual pleasure, is largely not. Facebook and Instagram, meanwhile, continue to harbor sexual objectification (albeit nipple-free), whether for profit, like on the Hooters promotional page, or for sport, such as the truly obscene comments left on clothed womens photographs.
Besides, we talk about the scourge
of sexually explicit nipple as if it were much harder to
disentangle from artistic nipple (or political nipple,
nutritional nipple, and European-blasé nipple) than
it is. To me, obscenity would require nipple-owners, male
and female, to be doing sex stuff. Breast-feeding probably
falls into the category of not-sex stuff
(although, sorry, some people are definitely enjoying those
photos in a sex way) but so does sunbathing or
shopping for flowers, or any of the other banal things men
do topless but unnoticed.
Were bringing you the breast weird content around the world every single week, and we want to hear your thoughts! Dont believe us? Check out this weeks episode, where we sit down with Free The Nipple director Lina Esco, who reveals why nipples are our future:
Today, in the USA it is ILLEGAL for a woman to be topless in 37 of the 50 states.
In some places that includes breastfeeding. In less tolerant places like Louisiana, a woman exposing her nipples can carry a sentence of up to three years in jail and a $2,500 fine.
In New York City, in 1992 it became LEGAL for women to be topless in public, but the NYPD continued to arrest women, so we took to the streets with cameras and our cast to fight these Puritanical injustices first hand.
By the end the production, Free The Nipple morphed into a real life revolution that transcended the bounds of mere entertainment. Famous graffiti artists, mobs of dedicated women, and celebrities from Miley Cyrus to Liv Tyler and Lena Dunham jumped on board and ignited a national media blitz that has transformed into a powerful movement to Free The Nipple in America.
Esco says that freeing the nipple is important because its legalization carries broader implications than just bare boobies in the big city. But dont take it from us, listen to Esco on the new HuffPost Weird News podcast.
Oh, and make sure to check out Escos first film,
The Nipple, which airs in IFC theaters starting on
Dec. 12. Itll also be available on iTunes.
Due to a recent court ruling, It is now legal for women in the U.S. to display their breasts in public.
In February 2017, a U.S. District Court judge granted an injunction on an ordinance banning female toplessness in Fort Collins, Colorado.
A federal judge did not rule that all women are permitted to go topless in any jurisdiction in the United States.
In April 2017, online numerous articles reported that due to a recent court ruling, it was now legal for women to bare their breasts in public anywhere in the U.S.. The articles appeared to be less popular than social media snippets linking to them, which were accompanied by snapshots such as the following:
On social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which display only short previews and headlines, some readers interpreted the articles as news that a federal court decision had legalized female toplessness across America. But the underlying articles described something more prosaic:
The Municipality of Fort Collins in the state of Colorado passed an ordinance (No. 134) in November 2015, banning girls and women older than nine from exposing their breasts in public unless they were breastfeeding. City officials argued that allowing females to publicly expose their breasts would likely cause distraction among drivers and pedestrians. This, they believe, has a tendency to disrupt public order.
The law was quickly challenged in court in May 2016 by the activist group Free the Nipple. Free the Nipple is a movement that started from a 2012 film of the same name. The group staged protests throughout the city in the past, gathering topless in public spots. Commentators even suspect the activities of the group made city officials pass the law that banned them from exposing their breasts in public. Free the Nipple went to court demanding an injunction on the law When the facts of the case were presented before the court, District Judge R. Brooke Jackson granted a preliminary injunction on ordinance No. 134. Jackson ruled that the law is discriminatory against women, as well as perpetuating stereotypes that sexualized female breasts.
These April 2017 articles referenced one published a few months earlier in the Denver Post that was about an injunction against an ordinance barring female toplessness that was specific to Fort Collins, Colorado:
Fort Collins women are now free to walk down the street without a shirt on not that they necessarily plan to.
U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson granted an injunction [in February 2017] halting a Fort Collins ordinance that prohibited women from showing their breasts in public, saying it discriminated against women and perpetuated stereotypes that sexualized female breasts.
Although that judge state the
anti-toplessness ordinance perpetuates a stereotype
engrained in our society that female breasts are primarily
objects of sexual desire whereas male breasts are not,
the injunction he granted applied only to one single
specific municipal code in one single district in Colorado
(and was not itself a final ruling on the issue). The
legality of gender parity and toplessness still varies
tremendously between jurisdictions throughout the
#FreeTheNipple uses male nipples to
protest Facebooks nudity policy
The celebrity-backed #FreeTheNipple campaign is raging on against services like Instagram and Facebook, which impose apparent double standards when it comes to male and female nipples. But in the interim, an artist has come up with a cheeky solution.
Californian Micol Hebron thought up the Photoshop the Nipple idea and posted an acceptable male nipple template in June last year.
But it is only now going viral after a pair of musicians, Our Lady J and La Sera, shared it on their Facebook pages.
La Seras Facebook post has now been shared more than 161,000 times.
The template encourages people to duplicate, resize and paste as needed to cover offensive female areola to make any photo of a topless woman acceptable for the prudish corners of the Internet.
Thank you for helping to make the world a safer place, it says.
Back in August, Hebron posted a somewhat terrifying image of a giant male nipple photoshopped on top of two seemingly topless women.
La Sera tweeted that while she had received some disapproving messages since posting on Facebook last week, she was overwhelmed by the support.
NIP SLIP: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Bali Nine nipple storm
20 million people have seen the nipple post. TWENTY MILLION. Thats too many people, she wrote, before adding: I got 1500 new facebook fans today and they are ALL in it for the nipples and only the nipples.
Now, women who are fed up with having their bare-chested pics kicked off social media are taking up the suggestion in protest against boob censorship, using the hashtag #malenipples.
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