We’re one step closer to dismantling the sexualization of women’s bodies.
Kendall Jenner recently told W magazine, “I love my tits being out.” The supermodel has been a leader in the Free the Nipple movement. She’s never ashamed to go braless and express confidence when doing so. There’s just one problem—Kendall, like many other women who show their nipples, are objectified and shamed for doing so.
Thanks to U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson, there’s hope in finally dispelling the ridiculous notion that when females show their nipples, it’s “pornographic”—but when men do it, it’s perfectly OK. After the Fort Collins Free the Nipple advocacy group challenged a city ordinance that prevents women from exposing their breasts in public, Jackson was asked to toss out the lawsuit. He refused, stating Free the Nipple had “adequately stated a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment.” Can we get a round of applause?
The group claimed the city violates their First Amendment right to free speech and their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law, arguing the ordinance “discriminates against females and LGBTQIA individuals.” In the city, women can be fined up to $2,650 or thrown in jail for up to 180 days for showing their nipples, whereas men are free to walk around shirtless without penalization.
These gender-specific indecency laws are based solely on stereotypes and societal norms of the way women are supposed to behave. So when the city argues that female breast exposure is “pornography” and “can impede the right of others to enjoy public spaces,” it’s a classic case of sex discrimination.
Jackson argues Free the Nipple has a legitimate claim because old-fashioned ways of thinking are “unconstitutional stereotypes of, generalizations about, and prejudices against women.” Jackson says Fort Collins “never seriously explains why plaintiff’s argument that [the ordinance] and its justifications are unconstitutionally grounded in stereotypes and prejudices does not state a viable equal protection claim.”
This litigation is an extremely important step to hopefully ending gender discrimination and female objectification. As we know all too well, the media makes a big-ass deal out of women showing their nipples. When Kim Kardashian posts a shirtless selfie, she is slut-shamed for being naked. She is told to put on clothes and cover up her body. When Justin Bieber or another male celebrity posts a shirtless selfie, he is “sexy,” glorified and worshipped for stripping down. The media sexualizes female nipples and we have to fight ordinances like the one in Fort Collins to ensure protection of our basic Constitutional rights.
Even social media has banned women from showing their nipples. According to Apple’s guidelines, objectionable content is qualified as “overtly sexual or pornographic material, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as ‘explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.’” Comedian Chelsea Handler has continuously challenged Instagram’s policies by posing topless for normal activities men can get away with doing without their shirts. By doing so, she’s raising awareness that women should have just as much freedom as men to show off—and love—their bodies.
It’s wrong to objectify women and sexualize their bodies. It paves the way for sexual harassment and gross comments from men. It’s why some women are ashamed for speaking up about their own assaults. When girls grow up with media portraying the female body as “erotic,” they have no choice but to feel shame—to feel they must conceal themselves.
As nood founder Melina DiMarco says: “It is important for all women to have the freedom to present their body on their own terms — without shame, restriction or hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with our bodies and there is nothing wrong with being nood.”