GOP Bill In New Hampshire Aims To Make Showing Women's Nipples Illegal, So Here Are 6 Reasons Why That's Absurd
Another day, another attempt to police female bodies. Today's edition features a New Hampshire GOP bill aiming to make female nipples illegal to show in public, because people just can't seem to let the subject go. Sponsored by Republican state Representatives Brian Gallagher, George Hurt, Josh Moore and Peter Spanos, the bill proposes strengthening current public indecency laws by making it a misdemeanor for someone expose their anus in public, or to purposefully show their nipple. The catch? The latter stipulation only applies to women, with the sole exception of breastfeeding.
When Rep. Amanda Bouldin spoke out against the bill's blatant double standard, her colleagues' reactions pretty much confirmed the sexist, Puritanical justification for such laws. According to Jezebel, Bouldin took to Facebook on Tuesday to criticize the bill, posting a link along with the pointed comment, "YES, all the sponsors are men. And Republicans. So much for 'smaller government.'"
Much like your older, argumentative relatives, it didn't take long for her Republican colleagues to comment on the post. However, unlike your cranky great-uncle, they didn't bother keeping things polite. Censuring Bouldin for supposedly spouting "liberal talking points," Rep. Moore reportedly wrote, "If it's a woman's natural inclination to pull her nipple out in public... you should have no problem with a mans inclantion [sic] to stare at it and grab it."
Rep. Al Baldasaro took a different approach. "No disrespect, but your nipple would be the last one I would want to see," he wrote in an illustration of pure irony.
The post has since been deleted, although Baldasaro told Mic that he stood by his comments. Bouldin can take care of herself, of course; as a woman in politics, she's no doubt used to coming under fire for any attempt to stand up for herself and other women. However, the fact remains that bills targeting female nudity are absurd at best, and manifestations of a culture of repression at worst. Let's take a look at six reasons why it's long past time to #FreeTheNipple:
1. Nipples Have No Gender
Men, women, and everyone along the gender spectrum have nipples, but somewhere along the way, we're indoctrinated into believing that women's nipples are inherently sexual. This, despite the fact that...
2. Women's Nipples Actually Serve A Purpose
Unlike male nipples, which are largely vestigial, female nipples actually have a purpose beyond sexual stimulation: Breastfeeding. (Duh.) However, cultural obsession with censoring female nudity has led to a society that oversexualizes women's breasts, then turns around and shames mothers for breastfeeding in public.
3. It's An Outdated Victorian Custom
Nipples weren't always sexualized; throughout history, the taboo of female toplessness has come and gone. According to the BBC, the 17th century saw necklines so low that nipples were a frequent sight in court, a fashion which died out in the Victorian era. Do we really want to share the same customs as a time when women weren't allowed to ride astride a horse because it was considered too sexual?
4. Gender Is Fluid
As trans and genderqueer identities become increasingly more visible, the absurdity of censoring female nipples becomes apparent. Where do you cross the line between male and female nipples? Who decides the point at which someone's breasts are sexual organs rather than decoration? Women skewered this double standard earlier in 2015 when they pasted a "male nipple template" over their topless photos on Instagram, supposedly rendering them socially acceptable.
5. Censorship Literally Criminalizes One Gender's Body
In many states, public female toplessness is considered a misdemeanor, and multiple offences can require registration as a sex offender. In fact, according to some organizations, police can still arrest topless women, even in states where it's legal, under the pretense of "disorderly conduct." No such laws are in place for men, of course, which begs the question: What makes female nipples a criminal offence, when male nipples are a common sight all over the country?
6. Censoring Women's Bodies Reinforces Objectification
It's no wonder that many people consider breasts sexual organs: The mere sight of them is considered public indecency, and as a result, they're often only seen in a sexual context, unless you possess your own. Until we start seeing them in other situations, breasts will continue to be oversexualized, and this merely contributes to the objectification of our body parts. In the words of social commentator Violet Rose, "You can sell breasts, but you cannot wear breasts in America."
Images: Giphy (7)