Because nipples are nipples are nipples are nipples are nipples are nipples, right?
Here’s a fun game. Zoom in a photo of a topless man (here, use this one of David Gandy). No, no, zoom further. Hone in on his chest. Now inch left a bit. A little bit more… yep, there, you’ve got it! Lovely, isn’t it?
Now, do the same thing on a picture of a woman (might be trickier, since you can’t actually find those on Instagram or Facebook, and hackers keep stealing the nude photos women take of themselves, but we reckon you can still find one). Again, zoom right in on that nipple.
And now, let’s play Spot The Difference.
We’re being silly, we know. After all, who plays Spot The Difference over the age of 12 anyway? And also, it would basically be impossible to win. Because – aesthetically – male and female nipples aren’t all that different. The disparity lies in the way we think of them.
To highlight this, and the subsequent inequality between how society treats male and female bodies, artist Micol Hebron posted an image online, asking women to cut out pictures of men’s nipples, and stick them over their own, ‘unacceptable’ nipples to ‘make the world a safer place’.
He actually created the image last June, but it’s only now that it’s gone viral (hey, that’s just the way the internet works, OK?). Because women across the world are taking Hebron’s satirical instructions literally, and photoshopping male nipples over their own ones, so that Instagram and Facebook can’t deem their bodies ‘inappropriate’ and delete their accounts.
And it gets better. Now Orange Is The New Black actor Matt McGrorry has taken to Facebook to join in – photoshopping nipples belonging to Miley Cyrus and Chrissy Teigen over his own.
‘Hi. This is a photo of me from my bodybuilding years, circa 2010,’ he wrote underneath the photo. ‘And these are the nipples of @mileycyrus and @chrissyteigen (I hope you don’t mind me borrowing them!) from their Instagram posts that were removed due to the dangerousness of their visible female nips. Can’t you tell by how perverse my photo has become without my asexual male nippies? Sarcasm.’
‘If you’re new to the #FreeTheNipple movement (like I am!) let me tell you what I think I understand about it. The banning of women’s nipples may sound normal or even inconsequential as you think, “well, women’s nipples are more sexual than men’s nipples”. But that’s not some scientific fact. It’s because of how our society so heavily sexualizes women. And it should be up to the individual woman to decide if she wants to show them, just like men have the choice.’
‘Part of the stand of #FreeTheNipple is about the right of women to claim what their breasts and nipples mean to THEM, and not have that be defined by how men and much of society decides what their boobies mean. At this point, if you’re still clinging to the notion of “well, that’s just the way it’s been,” then you might reconsider thinking of yourself as a rational and progressive person. If you have breasts, you might think, “I’m not interested in showing my niplets on social media or in public,” in which case you should feel free to keep ‘em swaddled! But shouldn’t you support the freedom of CHOICE of the INDIVIDUAL woman to do this even if YOU don’t want to? Like, even if you’d never be interested in joining a protest, wouldn’t you think it’s important to have the CHOICE to be able to legally protest, if one so chooses? The answer is yes.’
‘You might be thinking to yourself, there are way more important issues out there than women being able to expose their bumpy buttons whenever men can. But it’s not just about getting an even tan; it’s one piece of the puzzle of creating deep change in the way our society objectifies women and creates these different standards for men and women (and other genders). At the heart of it, it’s simply about gender equality and equal rights.’
Unfortunately, as it stands, the social media sites aren’t backing down. ‘Currently we don’t allow nudity on Instagram,’ Instagram’s statement reads, as we casually recall every image of a topless man we’ve ever double tapped. ‘This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed.’
But with support from the likes of the #FreeTheNipple campaign and Ukranian socio-political group Femen, it looks like this movement could really take off.