We all have them, so what’s the big deal?

Free The Nipple is an equality movement. It’s sole mission is to empower women across the world, of all races and ages. They are taking a stand against female oppression and censorship around the globe, but primarily in the US. Today, its actually illegal for women to be topless in 35 states in the USA, including breastfeeding. In some states such as Louisiana, an exposed nipple in a public place could mean a woman being jailed for up to 3 years and being set back $2,500 worth of fines.

Amidst the 20th century, all bared nipples were a violation of public nudity laws, including mens nipples. In the early 1930s, however, a group of four men began initial protests for their right to wear shirtless swimming shorts. The men wandered around the hot beaches of Coney Island completely topless and were subsequently arrested. This action gave rise to later events in 1935, where 42 men publicly paraded with their chests bare on an Atlantic City beach and were again arrested. A year later in 1936, New York lifted the ban on male toplessness, defining men’s nipples “commonplace and natural.” This development paved the way for a 1986 boycott by seven topless women in Rochester, New York, whose case was taken to the Supreme Court and resulted in the 1992 ruling that all people, male or female, have the right to go topless in New York. However, despite this legalisation, women are continuously being arrested by NYPD for going topless.

Despite changes in statutes and regulations legalising toplessness for women in a number of states, women are still at risk for being charged with public indecency and disturbing the peace. For example, Phoenix Feeley was arrested and incarcerated for being topless in the state of New York in 2005. Because these charges were proven erroneous, she was released and later received $29,000 in damages.

Basically this example proves that it is all a massive fuss for nothing, it is time for change. If a sweaty bald middle aged man can get his nipples out on a family holiday whilst walking down the street, then why can’t we? It is ridiculous, outdated and quite frankly baffles me how there is still such a divide in gender rights today. It is 2015 for crying out loud, worse things are happening around the world compared to women getting their nipples out- not to be objectified/perved on or attention, just because WHY THE HELL NOT. 

The Free The Nipple movement is working to change these inequalities through film, social media, and a grassroots campaign. It has sparked a real life national dialogue. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Liv Tyler and Lena Dunham have all shown public supported which has alerted the press on a worldwide scale and created a viral #FreeTheNipple campaign, as well as famous graffiti artists and other groups of dedicated women.

The campaign is striving for equal rights for men and women, a more balanced system of censorship, and legal rights for all women to breastfeed in public.

Free The Nipple has also dominated the cinematic world. Directed by Lina Esco, Free The Nipple was initially released in December 2014. The film shows a group of women who parade the streets of New York proud and topless, in order to spark protest against archaic censorship laws in the USA today. The film explores the contradictions in our media-dominated society, where acts of violence and killing are glorified, while images of a woman’s body are censored by the FCC and the MPAA. What is more obscene: Violence or a Nipple?

The campaign is not a crusade that exclusively advocates for women to bare their chests at any and all given times. It seeks to strip society of its tendencies toward the sexualization and oppression of the female upper body, addressing hypocrisies and inconsistencies in todays culture and legal systems that enforce its taboos.


Ultimately, the campaign resolves to decriminalise female toplessness around the world and empower women in a greater effort toward global gender equality.



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