Why 'Free The Nipple' protestors are missing the key issues facing gender equality in 2015
In case you weren’t already aware, August 24th was Go Topless Day and thousands of men and women took to the streets of major US cities sans shirts.
According to group organisers Go Topless, the semi-naked protests were aiming to combat the gender inequality that plagues society by allowing men to walk around half naked while women and, specifically, women’s breasts are deemed obscene.
It is hard to know where to begin to explain just how redundant this ‘cause’ is but this picture is a good place to start:
The topless female protestor may be posing proudly for photographers as she fights for her cause but look behind her.
A swarm of men surround her and each of them has some kind of recording device – from sophisticated SLR cameras to the camera on their phones.
Wonder if they give a crap about gender equality or couldn’t believe their luck that a sea of bare breasts greeted them when they left the house that morning?
Fighting for gender equality never has and never should be about pleasing or disappointing men so whether or not some creepy guys use this as an excuse to snap some real life pics for their spank bank is merely an unfortunate side effect of this kind of protest.
In it’s purest form, gender equality it is the belief that men and women should be socially, politically and economically equal. When choosing a cause to fight for within this cultural landscape, ideally the aim should be a result that demonstrably improves the position and lives of the unequal citizens. In this case: women.
But in what way will women’s lives in the Western world be improved if tomorrow we were allowed to walk around topless in public?
This is a serious question for which I think the ‘Free The Nipple’ movement has yet to provide an adequate answer.
A common criticism of feminism today is how overwhelmingly white and privileged it is and looking at the poster girls for the ‘Free the Nipple’ movement will do little to change this belief.
Celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Scout Willis, daughter of Bruce and Demi Moore, have publicly called for Instagram to lift the ban on nipples, which is fair enough but let’s not pretend this is a cause akin to suffrage or abortion rights.
According to The Fawcett Society, women in the UK are being paid 19.1 per cent less than men. This is a cause worth protesting.
This month, it has emerged that Isis has made rape a key tenet of its mission and is using the promise of rape as a recruiting tool. This is a cause worth protesting.
According to a 2013 report by the Ministry of Justice, only 15 per cent of serious sexual assault victims reported the attack to the police thanks to a culture of slut-shaming that continues to put the onus of sexual morality upon women. This is a cause worth protesting.
Last week, Tamara Dominguez died after being run over repeatedly by an SUV making her the 17th transgender woman murdered in the US in 2015 alone. This is a cause worth protesting.
These are the great gender inequalities of our time that need addressing and eradicating. Being able to walk down the street with your bare breasts blowing in the breeze doesn’t even make in onto the radar of things that are holding women back today.
If your biggest problem as a woman in 2015 is that you feel society is restricting your gender by forcing you to wear clothes, it’s time to take a step back and think about the millions of women around the world who have actual problems that you can help alleviate.