On Sunday, Julia Rose and Lauren Summer—which are definitely their real names—made headlines when they flashed their breasts during the live broadcast of game 5 of the World Series.
While they didn't get quite as much attention as certain other attendees, they got enough to earn themselves lifetime bans from MLB events.
This guy is a big fan of breast cancer awarenessTwitter
As far as I'm concerned, that's all great. Nudity is wonderful, being proud of your body is wonderful, and being an agent of chaos on live TV is among the best uses of anyone's time. But as it turns out, these women had much higher ideals in mind when they showed the world their breasts. They were apparently raising awareness for breast cancer, which, in case you weren't aware, is a type of cancer that occurs in the breast tissue and predominantly affects women. You probably hadn't heard of it before, because this is pretty much the first attempt at getting the word out—and there is no reason to think that awareness campaigns are the wrong approach entirely—but now that these women pulled up their tops at the World Series, you're finally aware, and you have the tools to contribute to prevention and treatment.
Pictured: A total lack of awarenessMy Cancer Chic
Oh, and they were also protesting the double standard that treats women's chests as fundamentally sexual objects, that need to be censored, while men are free to have their torsos exposed to the world without shame or fanfare. It's a fair point and the focus of the Free the Nipple campaign, which Julia Rose connects to their efforts. You can tell that this issue is particularly dear to these women because of the consistent effort they put into desexualizing their breasts. Almost every picture on their respective social media accounts practically screams, "It's just a chest, people! Get over it!"
Oh, and I almost forgot that they are also promoting Rose's digital magazine, SHAGMAG, which promises "SEX, BOOBS, SPORTS, UPCOMING ARTISTS & ENTREPRENEURS and a bunch of other fun surprises" and which Rose promotes as "the Millennial Playboy." It certainly sounds like the sort of place where you would find thoughtful discussion of feminist theory and women's issues.
Rose's mission statement puts it succinctly: "I wanted to create a (?)place that was fun but one that still had meaning. There is nothing wrong with sex and nudity, and wanting more of it but I definitely think our generation needs more of a voice. There are all these beautiful instagram models but who are they really? Who are the upcoming innovators and creators, and what the actual f*ck is going on in the world? So many questions and now there is an answer: SHAGMAG."
So… seriously? Obviously sex sells, and it's a recognized feature of our society that attractive young women can make solid careers out of selling it. If that's what they want to do, there's nothing to stop them, and there are some serious feminist arguments to be made for finding empowerment in the embrace of sexuality. But what does this half-assed veneer of selfless motives do for anyone?
Is your audience drawn in by the promise that SHAGMAG will explain "what the actual f*ck is going on in the world?" Or do they just want to look at some naked women? The entire business model is based on teasing at the edges of Instagram's nudity policy, so they can offer "exclusive and uncensored content" behind a paywall. So why bother appropriating Free the Nipple as your purpose—or breast cancer, for that matter—unless your goal is specifically to undermine the people who take these causes seriously?
As usual, the answer is probably to get people like me to write about it, and people like you to read about it, and it's clearly working well. Rose claims that SHAGMAG has already received $10,000 in new subscriptions, and she's planning future topless stunts.
Somehow it seems doubtful that any of that money is going to breast cancer research, but wouldn't it at least be nice if the shame of exploiting a good cause outweighed the temptation to draw in that extra attention? With that said, if you really want to pay a monthly fee to see an Instagram model naked, please consider any of the thousands of others who won't pretend they're being activists.
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11 years ago, on July 10th, 2009, Colombian singer Shakira released the first single off her third studio album.
"She Wolf" is a synth-pop banger built on a B minor progression. It was, in many ways, an insane song, born out of the singer's own frustration and ennui.
Though the music was composed by John Hill and Sam Endicott, lead singer of post-punk band The Bravery, the lyrics were all Shakira's own. "[Shakira] contacted him (Hill), asking if he had any stuff," said Endicott. "We never had her in mind. We just made the thing independently of her, and then she liked it a lot, and she sang over it. She used some of the melodies we put in there and then wrote these crazy lyrics about being a werewolf. And that's how it happened."
Shakira - She Wolf www.youtube.com
The sexist history of censoring nipples is senseless and due to change with better understanding of gender and trans identity.
Look closely at Jason Momoa's nipple. Do you find it offensive? Amber Heard wants to know.
Recently, the Aquaman actress called out Instagram's sexist censorship policies. When promoting her recent feature in Interview Magazine, Heard posted to Instagram a shot from the black and white photo shoot in which she is bare chested underneath a black blazer. After the photo received nearly 750k likes, Instagram took it down as a violation of their "community guidelines." In response, Heard criticized the policy by posting a picture of costar Jason Momoa in an identical pose and semi-nude state.
"In honor of IG's rigorous and equitable Community Guidelines against showing the Female nipple," she captioned, "and since mine enjoyed the brief privilege that's afforded to my male counterparts.. I decided to pay homage by replacing it with a picture that DID meet IG's strict nudity guidelines and such careful gender policies." She also took to her Instagram stories to ask viewers to vote "on which edit you prefer the most." She thanked Instagram and said, "here's to 2019!"
For what it's worth, Instagram's policy acknowledges that nudity can be artistic rather than lewd or pornagraphic; they just don't care. Their policy reads: "We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don't allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too."
Really, Heard harnessed the elegance of Jason Momoa's right nipple to add to a conversation about double standards and the social shaming of the female body that dates back to the early 19th century. Before then, in the 17th and 18th centuries, toplessness wasn't even taboo. In France and Britain (influenced by French culture), "the latest fashions were cut so low that applying nipple make-up or nipple rouge became a part of some women's beauty routine at the vanity table."
Portrait of Princess of Lamballe by Duplessis, 18th century, ALAMY
Then came the Victorian era, during which Queen Victoria imposed rigid restrictions on how females should express their sexuality—or, more specifically, that they shouldn't. As writer Sara Sheridan recounted for the BBC, "Victoria's childhood had been scarred by her domineering mother, the Duchess of Kent, who left the Queen with a lifelong horror of sexual impropriety."
So, thanks to one queen's childhood trauma, Instagram (along with most media outlets) bans female nipples but condones graphic images of slain hunted animals, pus-filled pimple popping, and "stomach-churning" medical accounts. And, of course, men's nipples.
Portrait of Nell Gwyn, Simon VerelstALAMY
But Heard's sly salute to 2019 also highlights that time is running out for out-dated double standards. Namely, with trans and non-binary individuals expressing themselves more freely and finally being represented in the media, society is becoming more aware that gender is a social construct, and gender identity exists on a spectrum. When Robyn Kanner writes about being a trans woman in media, she admits that, to a degree, she understands Instagram's problem and attempt at a solution: "Its algorithm attempts to track and delete nudity. If that doesn't work, it's up to an Instagram user to see and report it. That's when a 'global team' at Instagram decides if it should stay or go." But, she wrote, "In 2013, when I had just started estrogen, there was a strong possibility that Instagram would have let me upload a picture of my breasts…It's 2018, and my C-cup breasts are too scandalous for Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom's photo-sharing platform." She concludes, "Instagram has successfully shamed women into believing our nipples and breasts are cursed images. It should reconsider its policy. Pretending nipples aren't family-friendly in 2018 is a massively silly endeavor." In 2019, Instagram is now, more than ever, "failing its community" by shaming female nipples.
Twitter / @Robynkanner
But, with censorship and shame around the human nipple based solely on gender, what could more inclusive gender expression mean for the nipple?
Freedom, according to the Instagram account @genderless_nipples. Since 2016, the account has been publishing user-submitted close-ups of nipples, both male and female, with no indication of what gender (or agender) the body is. Instagram doesn't ban the images, because A) there's no way to tell which one is a female nipple and so a violation of their policy, B) there's nothing innately shameful or lewd about the body part, in the first place, and C) anyone who reports the account in attempt to have the pictures banned is close-minded and trapped in a Puritan mindset that clearly needs to be expanded by watching Fleabag or anything on HBO or any of Laura Dodsworth's celebrated photography projects of 100 penises and vaginas.
So while you freely gaze at the beauty of Jason Momoa's nipple, remember the long history of nipples that came before his and the arbitrary reason you're not allowed to gaze at so many more.
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