Which Is More Obscene: Violence or a Nipple?

by Catie Keck

Your nipple can land you up to three years in jail and an estimated $2,500 in fines in some states should you attempt to bare your breast in public, which is a laughable conviction when considering that manslaughter can run you a similar internment. Lina Esco’s new film Free the Nipple touches on the absurdity of female censorship, and the fact that American society uses female breasts as a ubiquitous tool of marketing and driver of commerce, yet its exposure outside a certain realm results in penalty and punishment (h/t to the patriarchy for that institutionalized paradox).

The film, a comedy based on the Free The Nipple movement’s beginnings, follows a group of women who took to the streets of New York City — which legalized female toplessness in 1992 — to bring attention to issues of gender inequality that are ingrained in American culture. It’s interesting to consider what we regard as “indecent exposure” in the United States. “If an average teenager in America sees thousands of humans killed on TV shows by the time they're 18 — not to mention video games where you can torture, defile and murder female characters who scream in horror as you dismember their bodies,” write Esco in a blog post for the Huffington Post, “I believe they can handle a nipple.”

A common misconception is that Free the Nipple is simply an attempt to allow women to bare their breasts in public, but as Esco herself mentioned when addressed by friend and supporter Michelle Rodriguez, toplessness is “merely a trojan horse for the real conversation which is about gender equality.” Free The Nipple moves beyond the obvious men-may-bare-all-why-can’t-we narrative, instead challenging our understanding of lewd or inappropriate imagery and asking the question, “Which is more obscene: violence or a nipple?”

Check out the trailer below. NSFW if your boss is a square.

Image: Playboy/Twitter