There is an insidious example of female oppression that curses our otherwise progressive, cohesive, and multi-cultural society. Due to what can only be assumed is an anomaly of stunted social progress amongst an element of our population we have a situation where many females are either forced, or feel obliged due to overwhelming pressure, to cover up their body from the view of anyone except their male partners who possessively claim exclusive rights to their partner’s body. It stands out as a stark reminder of blatant and undeniable sexism that is still protected under the banner of political correctness.
No matter how uncomfortable these poor women are under with these non-functional and restrictive garments tradition has deemed it incumbent on them to conceal their body lest men sexualise them. Instead of educating these men and expecting them to be mature about the female body they instead demand women hide under archaic cloth, removed from the sight of the public.
What is most horrifying about this state of affairs is that many of these women have actually been sufficiently indoctrinated into believing in the shame of their body that they actually cover themselves willingly. After a life time of social pressure they have for the most part willingly accepted the state of affairs with little protest. They have been beaten into moral submission.
I am of course talking about the bikini top.
The bikini top is an anachronism, and is different to a burqa, niqab, or hijab only in scale, not in concept. One can be opposed to all, or none. We have absolutely no grounds to criticise the inherent sexism of Islamic dress if Facebook and Instagram allow my male nipples to be published whilst those of my female friends are deemed obscene.
I have noticed a mindboggling tendency, when women are sunbaking topless ,to say things like “there are kids around”, as if children, who had only recently detached themselves from a functional relationship with their mother’s breasts, would somehow instinctively associate another woman’s breasts with immorality. In fact the only means by which children would have any consciousness of the sexuality of breasts is through the manner in which adults insist on sensationalising them.
We know as a fact that when breasts are exposed at all times they are completely normalised, we see this in Africa and to a lesser extent in the more liberated beaches of Europe. We need only look to our past to see that we have slowly but surely become less offended/aroused by the decreasing level of concealment we demand of females.
So how should we remedy this irrefutably unfair and unreasonable oppression of the female body? Ban bikini tops? Rip the bikini tops off of anyone who wears one? No?
If you baulked at the idea of having your mother’s, sister’s, girlfriend’s, daughter’s bikini top ripped off at the beach but weren’t as equally appalled when this was actually happening to Muslim women then you need to ask why.
You see I don’t like either, I think they are both the result of archaic social norms, and both are intrinsically sexist. However telling a woman what she can’t wear is not liberating her.
Some of the strongest and most intelligent women I know would never want their breasts exposed in public. They are not oppressed or backwards, that is simply what they have grown to be comfortable with. The underlying reason behind this might be flawed however their feelings are sincere.
I would love to live in a society where women never feel compelled to conceal their body for their own safety or simply to avoid harassment; however simply banning the practice will not achieve this, society must evolve first.
The first step in normalisation is addressing the so called “community standards” on TV and social media. Corporations need to be held to task as to why, in this age of gender progress, they feel compelled to perpetuate the notion that a woman’s body is sexualised when a man’s (all other things being equal) isn’t. My nipples mean nothing, whilst the nipples of a female (the only one of the two that actually have a non-sexual function) are associated with various immoralities.
It is important to stress, again, that the reason a woman’s breasts are associated with sex is not because the woman sexualises them, but because regardless of the context it is assumed men will. Instead of expecting men to recognise the difference between breastfeeding and sex we have instead demanded that our women must, as a default, assume that us men folks are incapable of observing a female nipple without being whipped into an insatiable sexual frenzy.
This in affect leads to a self-perpetuating state of affairs. The more a female’s nipples remain the exclusive domain of sexual activity the more they will bear the burden of that association. We must normalise the nipple.
Finally, I need to address the more cynical amongst you who may suspect this piece is an unashamed and thinly veiled opportunity to increase my chance of seeing breasts. Don’t get me wrong, I love breasts, can’t get enough of them. However, perhaps thanks in part to growing up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney where topless sunbaking is reasonably common, I do believe I have the capacity to view them in their correct context. Believe it or not, women enjoy seeing topless men too, have for a while now, they have just developed this remarkable capacity to not make things awkward about it or make us feel uncomfortable for the past few hundred years.
If you think this is an innate ability exclusive to the female, remember hard line Islamists suggest that a woman without a Burqa, Niqab, or Hijab is like “uncovered meat” to us men who remain slaves to our unquenchable sexual desires. Yet despite this wisdom, I can say with confidence that all my male friends have managed to maintain respectful relationships with their many non-burqa wearing female friends without succumbing to the overwhelming desire to rape them.
We have progressed so far from the mentality that a woman must be completely concealed to ensure she isn’t sexualised by men, is it really hard for us to remove the last few square centimetres that keep us from parity? Social change is slow, and I absolutely concede that the first women who might choose to post their topless Facebook profile pictures will experience unwanted sexualisation and stigma at least at first. However progress will be impossible until these trailblazers, whoever they may be, are at least permitted to do so.
So Facebook, Instagram, T.V. stations, and anyone else who refers to “community guidelines”, I call on you to elaborate, explain, and defend your reasoning in terms befitting of the current age, why do female nipples offend you?