"Free The Nipple" started as a campaign to promote women's equal right to go topless in public -- a right that men have always had. Nothing anoints a social movement like a semi-fictional narrative, and this week, a trailer the feature film "Free The Nipple" was released online.
"Free The Nipple" tells the story of a group of women in New York City who go topless in public to fight the censorship of women's bodies and the fines levied against women who don't follow the rules. Directed by photographer Lina Esco, 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." As one character in the trailer asks, "Why is my nipple more obscene than a murder?
Women's freedom of bodily expression is limited by the FCC, MPAA, social media platforms and, ultimately, a culture that views nipple as inherently explicit. Of course, no body part is inherently anything, but society has this pesky habit of deciding for women how our bodies should be perceived.
The over-sexualization of women's bodies has resulted in a view of nipples as particularly salacious, whether women intend them to be seen that way or not. And beyond freedom of expression, the notion that women's breasts must be hidden has real consequences for women's wellbeing. For example, new mothers are inhibited from breastfeeding freely in public, lest they offend anybody. It is illegal for women to go topless in 35 states.
According to the Free The Nipple campaign, an exposed nipple in Louisiana can cost a woman $2,500 in fines. Imagine, for a moment, if the same applied for men.
"Free The Nipple" will be released to theaters, video on demand and iTunes on Dec. 12.