Series, The Apprentice

The Apprentice: #FreeTheNipple

By Kizzy Katawonga, Uganda:

I know what you're thinking and you've got it all wrong. Well maybe but this article isn't about breasts. It's really about a woman's right to bear her breasts in public. Confused yet? Let me elaborate. A few days ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across an interesting link titled “Women protest bare breasted in New York Times Square”.

As any good man, seeing a link about breasts, I automatically clicked the link, quite by reflex. Of course, it was purely to read the article. What do you take me for? Get your mind out of the gutter! Anyways, I digress.

Apparently a bunch of women gathered in New York Times Square; which is a very busy and public place mind you, to have a protest march. Nothing unusual about that except for the bare breasted part – Over 50 women completely topless, marching through one of the busiest places in the world!

These women are part of a global women's movement called #FreeTheNipple. Their agenda is to get women the right, like men, to bare their breasts freely in public. They argue that it's against their rights as women to be refused to walk around topless especially since men are allowed to do so in most places in the world.

They want to be able to go topless at the gym, the beach, on the trail run – basically anywhere that men are allowed to go topless. Wow, imagine that? I'm sure most of the men have no problem imagining it. They are probably welcoming the idea.

I watched a short documentary where one of the chief advocates for #FreeTheNipple went around interviewing men to get their opinions on the matter. Most men were united in their position that it's very different when a woman bears her breasts as compared to men. When she asked why, the common response was that women's breasts are sexual so they can't just expose them in public. Everyone knows that. She then asked these men that given a chance to look at these breasts constantly for 5 hours, if they would they still be sexual. Interesting question indeed!

A woman's breasts are and always will be sexually attractive to men. I'm convinced that men's breasts don't elicit any thought of sex in the average woman. This poses an inherent challenge in accepting such a right. It's easy to think that with continued exposure to a woman's body men's natural sexual sensitivity would dull. I dare say the booming porn industry has proved that is far from the truth.

But whatever her assertions, I think the greater majority of women in this world aren't as keen as her to go topless in public. Possibly because of the extreme unwanted attention the average woman gets because of her covered breasts to begin with, I don't see many wanting to have them out in the open.

On the one hand, you have all these women fighting for the right to be respected, valued and treated as human beings instead of sex objects and on the other, another group fighting for women to bare their breasts openly and use their bodies for socio-economic gain.

As a man, I cannot tell you how confusing these mixed messages are to me and I'm sure the greater body of men is just as confused. The #FreeTheNipple campaign undermines the hard fought efforts of so many to ensure women the world over are treated with dignity, honor and value.

I for one wouldn't welcome the move. I don't appreciate men walking around bare chested, why would I do so for women? I certainly can't begin to entertain the idea of my lovely wife and daughters freeing the nipple. No sir!

I believe a woman's breasts are a gift from God, an inherent part of her loveliness and nature. They should be protected and respected with the highest regard. Breasts are too precious to be flaunted about for all to see, touch and harm. Nay, I say no to #FreeTheNipple.

I am old school, patriarchal even – and I am sure there are more women than men who would side with me on this one.

So I say, #HideTheNipple

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  • Stephen S. Musoke

    Actually the challenge is not the sexual feelings that the breasts, but rather the nurturing aspect that makes them sacred.

    If you look deeper, you will find alot of the “freedom” restrictions around women, are to protect the nurturing & motherly pedestal on which they are placed.

    • Yes, I agree. I merely didn’t mention the nurturing aspect because the western world seems to frown very heavily on women breastfeeding as opposed to women bearing their breasts casually or sexually. A twisted logic I’ve failed to comprehend.

  • Siphesihle Ndaba

    I know we’re trying to encourage/ promote feminism and gender equality but I’m not too keen on the idea of phallic displays. On the contrary, if you look at it at a cultural perspective; the Zulu traditional attire sort-of supports the idea of #FreeTheNipple (but I don’t think the Zulu’s are doing it for equality) so… it could go either way really…

    • Cynthia

      True…before so much clothing came to us, many African culture let their breasts “hang”. Culture is changing globally…what we find unacceptable now was acceptable at some point. Either way, I do not want to “Free” my nipple…maybe from a bra but certainly not from clothing in general 🙂