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The Logical Argument Behind ‘Free the Nipple’

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Sonoma chapter.

“Free the Nipple” is a slogan we’ve all heard before, maybe even said once or twice. Maybe you have a shirt or a sign of it. It’s just another feminist rant right? Just another way the women are trying to be like the men… no, its way more than that.

It all started in the 16th century when having a thin waist came into fashion. Later on the corset came about, which held the skirt and top together, but it was still not a bra or have the distinct purpose of covering nipples. The first bra was made in 1914. In the early 1900’s it was actually indecent for men to show their nipples as well, but it wasn’t until men protested in the streets that the standard legally changed. By 1936, men were free walk around shirtless. They exercised their very American ideal of peaceful protest towards social and legal change, however it is traditionally American for that freedom only to extend to men.

In the U.S. only 29 states protect breastfeeding from public indecency. About 99% of people in society are breastfed as infants and it is the natural course of action for all mammals to breastfeed their young. Breastfeeding isn’t peeing or pooping or farting, and includes no ghastly fluids. With the pressing issue with pro life and pro choice sides, one would think people would be supportive of nurturing that child that a mother made the choice to have. No, that’s indecent. Women make up about 50% of the population, and I can’t imagine, women who almost all have breasts and the ability to have children, find breastfeeding “indecent”.

Not allowing women to show their nipples simply makes no SENSE. Sense as in logical sense. We, as in society, target boob; the side, the top, the under. We pick dresses and tops with the most cleavage for maximum sexual appeal. Poperazzi catches size boob peaking out of tank tops any chance they get. This year Bella Thorne damn near won an award for her glitter under-boob outfit. Girls wear tube tops, bralettes and pasties and they’re all passable! In conclusion, we’re used to seeing the breasty real estate around the nipple.

Nipples. The most offensive “slip” a woman’s body can make. That’s why women wear bras and bikini tops… when men’s swimwear only includes shorts. Meaning that we see men’s nipples. In fact we see them all the time. From swimming shirtless, to walking around half naked, to being topless in ads and movies, we see their nipples! Hard, big and brown to pink and tiny, society is used to seeing nipples and if they are attached to a man’s torso, then they aren’t offensive at all. We even accept them on heavy set men with lots of fat tissue around the nipple making it appear like they have breasts. Society even pokes fun at that but we still accept them. Nipples are hardly unseen or protected from the public eye.

Why are women not allowed to show their nipples then? The breast area, we love and are very accustomed to. Nipples are hardly a site for sore eyes as they walk around all the time on the chests of men. So why not together? If neither part are abnormal or rare, and both accepted commonly among society, why are they so censored together on the chests of women? It doesn’t make any sense. I’ll even express it in a conditional and deductive statement(a conditional statement is any “if, then” statement, and a deductive argument concludes in a true conclusion given true premises).

IF showing breast tissue is accepted as decent in society, and showing nipples are accepted as decent in society, THEN showing breasts with nipples are decent in society.

So why aren’t they? One word. Sexism. Let’s work on that.

This article isn’t meant to be political persuasion, but solely present a logical argument. Whether one has a bias about propriety or desire for more access to mothering rooms created for mothers to breastfeed in, the argument against women’s nipples in public just makes no sense. I myself am not necessarily trying to run around shirtless, but the reasoning to why I am LEGALLY NOT ALLOWED, is simply absurd.



I'm Rebecca DeMent(she/her/they/them), a Buddhist Catholic vegan ecofeminst, and I am a junior at Sonoma State University studying Philosophy in the Pre-Law concentration with a minor in Business. 
Contributor account for HC Sonoma