So why are they considered lewd, and sometimes dirty, sex objects!? I'm part of an art website community and I noticed something the other day. While looking through an artist's portfolio of live-figure drawings I noticed that the topless men were unmarked while the topless women had to be marked with Mature Content: NUDITY. I'm sorry...but how in the hell is this fair!? You had to be 18 years or older to look at the pictures of the topless women and devil-may-care what age to see the topless men-because they're not considered nude. Their chests aren't idolized as sex objects and dirtied by those only willing to see them as sex objects.
I remember when I was younger I always wanted to go topless like my guy friends on a really hot summer day, but I was never allowed because I was a girl and it was 'indecent.' But what is so indecent?? It makes me so sad and so angry that my chest is nothing but sex appeal to most people and considered indecent. It makes me feel uncomfortable in my own skin just thinking about it.
We've all heard the phrase 'it doesn't count unless you see a nipple,' either from experiences or from the film Mean Girls. But honestly...what is so sexy about them? Their sole purpose is to feed our offspring. That's it. Breasts are just lumpy sacs filled with fat and milk glands so we can feed our future children and yet all most people see are 'bazookas' or 'bangers' or some other weird name.
My guy friend was once telling me how he saw our mutual friend's nipple once when she leaned over too far and he made a disgusted face and said 'they were too big.' So now there are specifics on how our nipples should look?? Did I miss this memo??? I have to worry about one more physical aspect to perfect? I'm so sick of things like this making me feel insecure about my own body, my own NIPPLES. I love my body and I love my nipples and I want to always remember that.
Yes, this turned into quite a rant, but I just wanted to get it out there because it has been really bugging me ever since I noticed the sexual inequality for what is considered nude on the art website. Because I love my body, and my breasts, and my nipples and I wish others could love it for more than just sex appeal. I'm done now. I hope all of you love your nipples too.
Posts: 112 | From: Upperstate NY | Registered: Jan 2011
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There is an incredible double standard in our society when it comes to visible chests.
But just so you know, noticing your location, the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in NY, ruled that women have the absolute right to go topless wherever (in NY) men are allowed to go topless. The ruling was back in the 1980s! It was after protests by an activist group (concerned about breastfeeding rights, but mostly focused on the discrimination).
Society as a whole hasn't caught up but at least some people in power were somewhat enlightened; perhaps it's a sign that it's possible to make progress.
Sorry to run off on a slight tangent, but practically nobody knows about the NY state court ruling, and I was always kind of proud of that court for that ruling.
Posts: 37 | From: USA | Registered: Nov 2004
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Fantastic post LifEnColour! I really know what you mean about feeling uncomfortable in your own skin because of the sexualisation of the female chest. I did for years. However, I really do admire your optimism - I couldn't learn to love, respect and accept the most sexualised-by-culture part of myself it without a lot of antropology study.
I hear you N about the court ruling, it was one small step for t-shirts, one giant leap for nipplekind! There is also Portland (but I think thats in NY, sorry my geography is awful) and parts of Canada where it's totally fine, I think. However, that's not to say people won't be awful about it. I'm a 'topfree' activist - http://www.tera.ca/ - and I go to private corners of parks - so people don't wrongly think I'm a 'exhibitionist' or something or I get arrested. I just enjoy my body against the sun - and the body acceptance that comes with no sexual context.
The last time I did in summer, some boys came out and sat near to me but I had my shirt on before they even sat down - not because it's my body's fault for their possible attitudes, just because in a country where Page 3 is in our best-selling newspaper, I'm pretty sure nobody will listen to me protseting that my chest is nothing sexual in this context or any others, and I'll end up in the slammer lol.
Then, to see if they'd leave, I put my hoodie on (I experiment with attitudes to see if they'd think they were intimidating me or something) but they just stayed. I kept on reading, thinking, if they saw, they'll say something. I thought, 'hey maybe I misjudged them'. (I really don't want to come across as sexist, and just because these particular people were boys doesn't mean it couldn't have happened with girls.) However, when they left I heard the yell 'tittiiiies!' and smiled to myself and thought, 'hey I was right.' And they are wrong. There're not 'titties' jus as much as they're lovely flat ones aren't biologically 'titties'. It's my CHEST. Really empowering feeling walking home. I'd prepared for what could happen, and I felt SO non-intimidated!
It's also so cool that this post is actually about nipples. I was playing this video game with my partner and there was a female character with her hands on her nipples (to show a wound in her chest revelvant to the story) and I was like, 'ugh why do they sexualise the chest like that?' and he said 'there's no way the censors would let them show nipples' but the male character only had tiny blobs of pinky brown for nipples anyway, so she easily could have had something like that - would that really have caused outrage in the non-sexual hospital setting of the game?
Amazingly, in the rest of the game, bikini clad females were everywhere, to enhance the game's sex appeal, and they showed almost the whole breast, but not the nipples.
The enlarged mammary glands and FAT for feeding babies are the DIFFERENT part, not the nipples. Women's tend to be a little bigger on average (nowhere near always) but men tend to have bigger hands, arms, shoulders, feet...
Where's the censorship on the smaller male nipple? Interestingly, it was only until the 1930's that male nipples were declared 'not to be sexualised'. Look at the 1920's swimming costumes for men.
I hate that the males in my family can have a competion to see who has the biggest genetic dip in the chest (near the heart) but when I join in (I have the biggest dip in my ribcage by far), even covering my nipples and most of my breast fat, I get looked at like I'm some kind of freak and pervert and the game ends with others claiming they have trama. The way to de-sexualise the nude female chest is to be de-sensitised to it. Breastfeed everywhere. Sunbath everywhere. Maybe one day we can all be strong together and go to an ice cream van together like our de-sexualised counterparts.
It doesn't matter if some women want to see their chest as something sexual either because it reminds them of sexual pleasure or something if that area specifically brings them physical and emotional pleasure during sex. But we shouldn't *all* have to see it like that 100% of the time, or even at ANY time at all, incuding during any kind of sex, if we don't want to.
Breasts in specific are absolutely, by far, the most sexualized part of any human body. I conquer with you on just how annoying this is, especially the fact that only's women's breasts tend to be sexualized. Where I live it is legal for both women and men to walk around completely topless (except where prohibited i.e. stores), but I have yet to see ANY woman walking around without something covering her breasts and nipples! I have only heard of one person seeing a female doing so and this was in a large city just weeks after the legislation was passed. Yet in other countries (such as much of the European ones) it is considered normal for women to go swimming topless.
As per breasts, speaking both as a female and as someone attracted to females, I find it absurd that even now it is regarded as something less than acceptable for a woman to breastfeed her baby in public. Breasts are first and foremost a means by which to feed one's offspring, and only secondarily, if at all, a object of sexuality. I had a debate with my boyfriend recently about this very subject. He maintained that it is "weird" (his words, not mine) for a woman to breastfeed in public, whereas I maintained that it was absolutely acceptable and something to be encouraged. I try to listen to and consider people's perspectives when they differ from my own, but my boyfriend, much like the rest of society, had no reason for feeling this way and had nothing to support his feelings.
It is this naiveté and lack of information that fuels issues like this and allows them to become problems. In order to combat them we simply need to stick to our convictions, discuss with others and in this case, go topless if we feel like it.
I am ME and that is the only label I need. Posts: 850 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Oct 2009
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I also hate how many jokes there are about breast fat. 'They wobble! Isn't that funny?!' So do some bellies, but it's not really empowering to go around making jokes about that either. Kids do it, but they also do it about any body fat. With adults and breasts it's like, if they're not sexualised, they're a joke, or both at the same time. To me, the joking thing lines up with the sexualisation. 'Melons','bazookas' etc. They're for amusement and entertainment, apparently. As if that's their purpose, to make people laugh.
There's also the idea that they are 'attractive' when bellies are not thought of in the same way - despite their fat and roundness and bounce, and muscles are not, as a rule. Some people like muscles, and some people like big beliies, but those things are not a cultural fact.
It's a fact with breasts, even if you personally don't find them interesting, according to culture, it's a fact.
I agree. I felt especially strongly about this when I was younger..and would rollerskate around my neighborhood completely topless until I was 13.
It's funny I found this topic now because just today someone commented on a facebook picture of me that my shirt was see-through. Yeah, it is a little bit, and since it's a tube top I don't wear a bra with it so you can kind vaguely see my nipples if you look hard enough. Oh no!! Not nipples!! It's not like all humans have them (and, well, most mammals in general for that matter)! Or even if a woman's not wearing a see-through shirt, if it's thin enough to see hard nipples without a bra - well then you must wear a bra!! Even if it's uncomfortable and there's no need to!
You have the wonderful Victorian era to thank for society's double standards of showing skin. Men were okay to do it if they got hot while working, but women were made to be objects and considered as nothing less.
Oddly enough during the Renaissance era in Italy there was absolutely no problem with women showing their breasts in public, it was even encouraged to wear few clothes because the weather was so hot. For some bizarre reason this has faded over time.
Now, female chests can only be shown at certain times in certain places, and it is very stupid. I don't get it myself, but there you go. We live in a male dominated world where everything is man's way or no way.
I know this is almost a completely unhelpful comment, but I thought it'd help =D
Posts: 52 | From: Ireland | Registered: Feb 2011
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This all actually WAY predates the Victorian era, and the way things were for some women during the Renaissance was a cultural moment more than the way things had been up until then and beyond.
-------------------- Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen About Me • Get our book! Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead Posts: 65678 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000
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I think its cool how many people got into this topic because it's become a really important thing to me.
Last night I was hanging out with my boyfriend and we were going to go back to his dorm (which has an oven I could make mozzarella sticks in) and I started getting dressed and didn't put a bra on. My nipples are large for my breast size and are always in a state of relative perkiness i.e. if I don't wear a bra, it's instantly noticeable. I've been working on getting over being embarrassed of my nipples by frequently going braless while in my dorm and walking to the bathroom without putting a bra on, and this has been kind of working. I'm still nervous about it because I go to a school where the population is 75% male and my dorm is about 90% male.
So my boyfriend and I were going to go back to his dorm and he was shocked when I put a button up shirt on without a bra. And pretty much demanded I put one on before leaving the room. I've known he doesn't like me going braless for a while and gets upset when I walk to the bathroom without one. I told him that I didn't feel like putting one on and asked what the big deal was. He said that all the guys would be staring and he was jealous and that whole thing. I didn't think my nipples were very noticeable and I told him I didn't care if they showed because they were just nipples. He continued to ask me to put on a bra because guys would stare and he didn't want that. I was really upset by this because he could only see my breasts and nipples as sex objects like mostly everyone else does and it hurt. He said that if I didn't want to wear a bra then I had to at least wear a hoodie and not take it off until we got back to my room.
I told him how I felt and he said he agreed it was unfair but still wanted me to put on a hoodie or bra. I was sick of arguing so I put on a tank top underneath my button up shirt and we went to his dorm. But I was still so angry and ashamed. I felt like I was a little kid that had been reprimanded for being silly. Has this ever happened to anyone else? How did it make you feel??
Posts: 112 | From: Upperstate NY | Registered: Jan 2011
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The closest I ever came to that was a couple times when sitting for two kids, a 9 year old girl and her 12 year old brother. The first time, a friend of the brother was over at the house, and we were all outside when a woman rode nearby on a bike in a sports bra. The two boys instantly decided that was nasty and she needed to put clothes on. I asked them if they'd ever seen a guy without his shirt on (like in most advertisements on tv and hanging up in schools) and they both said yes, and I asked if they'd noticed that the guys had nipples too, that theirs were just less noticeable. Surprise surprise...they hadn't. And when I asked why it was okay for a guy to walk around without anything on his top half, but a woman couldn't go around in what amounts to a belly-cut tank top, neither one could come up with an answer they were satisfied with. (Note-this wasn't just because she was female, a cooties argument, this was specifically them being bothered because all she had on was a sports bra.)
And then another day we were playing outside and a baby girl playing outside had managed to strip herself and was running around with blocks. The two I was sitting, plus a couple more kids hanging out, started literally going inside because, and I quote, "she doesn't even have a shirt on! And everybody can see her...you know...her top half, and she's just running around!", liberally laced with "ew". These schools need some kind of sex-ed that's more helpful than what they have. Because when kids are freaking out and going inside because a baby who's hardly old enough to walk and can't speak yet has managed to ditch her clothes (and I did go and let the mom know...she had had an older sibling watching the baby, but the sibling was so used to this that he didn't think to say anything)...something is wrong with this.
Posts: 177 | From: USA | Registered: Sep 2010
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@LifeEnColor I think you're boyfriend's reaction, while maybe typical, was totally uncool. How you choose to dress should be about what you want to wear and what you feel comfortable in, not what he thinks is appropriate or decent. A partner never has a right to demand or control what the other wears. I'm sorry that it went down so poorly.
But kudos for you not being embarrassed about your body! I totally agree that there's a very real double standard around nipples, and like all double standards its pretty unfair. I would say that I think nipples can be sexy though, but sexy in the same way any part of the human body can be sexy.
Posts: 237 | From: British Columbia, Canada | Registered: Mar 2010
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I hate the double standard too, women are expected to prepare for any eventuality in which their nipples could be indicated to exist (cold, getting soaked with water, someone grabbing hold of them...), whereas men's will generally be ignored. As others have noted, it's not just female/women's nipples that are sexualised in this way, but their whole breasts, as someone with very large breasts I've certainly felt a similar kind of self conciousness about their visibility as I have about that of my nipples. I am attracted to breasts and nipples, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I recognise that if I'm physically attracted to someone, that's not their responsibility/fault, and they don't have an obligation to cover them up so that nobody will harrass them (which I certainly wouldn't), or get distracted from what they're doing (sure I have ADHD and I probably couldn't multitask during sex like all you neurotypicals out there, but I don't see boobs as being like shiny things).
Also, LifeEnColor, I think your boyfriend was in the wrong, he shouldn't try to control how you dress.
-------------------- Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see. Posts: 840 | From: UK | Registered: Dec 2008
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I agree! How come in childrens things (well more teen things then) you so often see men topless eg; Glee, How i met your mother and I'm pretty shure I have never seen a picture of talor lauthner with a top on, yet the idea of a topless woman in a shol like one of theese is compleetly un heard of!!
Posts: 24 | From: uk | Registered: Feb 2011
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