Free The Nipple is a gender equality movement that has recently become a popular topic of discussion throughout the country, the internet, and even at Milken. It is based on the double standard that exists between men and women in society. This campaign does not only exist to advocate for women to live with the same freedoms men are given, but to try to help society move away from sexualizing women’s bodies.
In New York, Hawaii, Maine, Ohio, and Texas, there are nudity and public decency laws that have legalized for both men and women to be publicly topless. However, most states in the US state that if a woman’s entire breast is visible, it is indecent exposure. The people who stand behind Free the Nipple find this to be unfair, and do not understand why a woman’s nipple has a such a different connotation than a man’s nipple. Throughout America, there is much dispute to whether this should be legalized or not, and there are individuals who stand strongly behind both sides of the campaign.
Not only is women being topless in public considered an indecent act in the majority of the country, but social media also targets bare-breasted women. Photos featuring a female nipple are immediately removed, while photos with male nipples are untouched. This all leads to the common question: Why does a woman’s nipple qualify as nudity, while a man’s nipple does not qualify as nudity?
There are many students within the Milken community who have strong views about this movement Emma Lipovetsky ‘17 explains that, “Many people have an issue with the Free the Nipple campaign because they believe that woman’s breasts are purely sexual. What those people don’t stop to think about is that the only reason they are sexualized is due to media and daily interactions. It is not fair that men have the right to walk around topless when women don’t just because of how society has sexualized our bodies. This organization is not about girls wanting to be naked and sexualized even further; it is about equality.”
On top of this campaign being a big topic of discussion overall in society, it also has an element of Judaism. Judaism is big on reserving your body. Tz’ni’ut means modesty, and our religion believes that both women and men should have a sense of privacy when it comes to their bodies. The principle of Tz’ni’ut rejects nudity not only in public, but around your house. However, shown by Milken’s own Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer, it is evident that Jewish values don’t have to go against the Free the Nipple campaign. She states that, “As Americans, we honor feminism, equal rights, freedom of expression and other extraordinary American values; we participate actively in the life of our country; we contribute to all aspects of life in this nation. And participating in American life does not need to contradict our belief in modesty, holiness and respect. Jewish tradition has always promoted modesty for all people. Our texts teach us clearly to respect the bodies and privacy of others and ourselves. The way we communicate, and carry ourselves, and dress, should all promote appropriate respect and decency — for men and women, boys and girls…”
There are organizations and individuals throughout the country who stand behind and support this movement, as well as students, teachers, and families within our own Milken community.