Facebook Wages War on the Nipple
Facebook Wages War on the Nipple
By Lina Esco / huffingtonpost.com

In what year did it become legal in the United States for men to go topless on a public beach without being arrested and/or fined by the police?

A) 1889
B) 1936
C) 1941
D) It's always been legal

In a bizarre twist of American history, preachers and clergy in the 1900's vilified not just women's, but men's nipples -- branding them "immoral" and "evil" to the unsuspecting eyes of children and impressionable women. Legislation was passed and all human areola were banned in public places.

Free The Nipple

Thousands of men protested for their right to shed their oppressive wool tank tops at the beach and free their "man nipples" forever. The revolution ignited in 1930 when four guys were arrested in Coney Island for going shirtless on a hot beach. Then icon Clark Gable stripped off his shirt in It Happened One Night, marking the scandalous debut of a male's uncensored nipples in American cinema. In 1935 New Jersey hit back with a mass arrest of 42 topless men in Atlantic City. After years of protest and outrage New York lifted the male topless ban in 1936, and suddenly a man's nipples were no longer "obscene" in society, but rather commonplace and natural.

Cut to January 7th, 2014, one month after Facebook and a gang of social media platforms deleted my profiles for posting the teaser of my film Free The Nipple and/or for photos exposing the most controversial area of a woman's breast -- the nipple. My last post on Huffington chronicled the censorship challenges we endured while filming in N.Y.C with armies of topless women to challenge the backwards "obscenity" laws firsthand. This is an account of the corporate censorship I have endured in last three weeks.

In one sentence, Free The Nipple is based on the true events of women on the front lines fighting the archaic topless laws in America. Even after the "female nipple" was decriminalized in New York's supreme court in 1992, the NYPD continued to arrest women regardless. Today in the USA -- "land of the free" -- it's only legal in 13 states for women to be topless in public or on a beach. In less tolerant places like Louisiana, a woman exposing her nipples can carry a sentence of up to three years in jail and a $2,500 fine.

2014-01-06-FBcapture.png

One fact that's absolutely certain, it's not the boob, but rather the nipple that really freaks out Facebook, Instagram and the other platforms that banned our film. There's actually a FB page called "Free The Boobs" which is 100% acceptable for their "community standards" as long as not one millimeter of areola is visible. This policy seems odd, as images on "Free The Boobs" are hyper-sexualized, and the topless images on our banned profile "Free The Nipple" were of protest -- baring no sexual context.

2014-01-06-FTNFB.png

After examining Facebook and Instagram's "community standards" to make some sense of my cyber exile, I discovered you can post videos of people being tortured and killed, but a woman's nipple is too obscene for their standards. You can buy guns on Instagram and show a mutilated body, but a female areola in a non-sexual context is a "violation of their terms" (FYI Facebook bought Instagram for a billion in stock and cash back in 2012).

2014-01-06-FBadmin.png

The question is, what do you do when the "gatekeepers" of social media pull the plug on a film that you put years of life force into? I panicked and started calling, texting and emailing every connection I'd ever made from Hollywood to DC. After strip mining years of my contacts, by some sudden grace my blog landed on the front page of Huffington Post. Then "with a little help from my friends" and a few epic tweets, life got interesting.

2014-01-06-Miley.png

Rolling Stone, Hollywood Reporter, MTV, Salon, Perez Hilton and Cosmopolitan picked up the story. The press started calling, and our website crashed from an onslaught of traffic. By some dream-like twist of fate, Free The Nipple was defibrillated by the hands of the HuffPost and Twitter Gods.

2014-01-06-LenaD.jpg

Suddenly I had a tiny voice to challenge these Goliath social media platforms, who I believe have some very troubling ideas about what is and isn't "obscene" for community standards in America -- and I'm not alone. Literally mobs of fired up journalists condemned Facebook's decisions to ban the nipple, while permitting ultra-violent content like beheadings. Maybe I'm soft or have a hypersensitivity to what are basically snuff films, but this decision by Facebook seems counterintuitive to me on a core DNA level.

Even David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, jumped on Twitter and wrote: "It's irresponsible of Facebook to post beheading videos, especially without warning. They must explain their actions to worried parents." The same day of Cameron's tweet, Facebook shot back this comment:

2014-01-06-FBquote.png

If Facebook can give the British Prime minister and the international press the big corporate finger, continuing to allow anyone to publish the most gruesome acts to humanity, then I'd like to make a small request. I would like to cordially and officially invite Facebook to offer the same guidelines for posting a woman's nipple... as it does for sawing off a woman's head.

That being said, in concert with the film we are launching a national campaign aimed at decriminalizing the "female nipple" in all 50 states, on Facebook, Instagram and in a perfect world even Network TV, but you know, after 10 pm. 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 -- I believe they can handle a nipple.

In the UK and Europe, women's nipples on magazine covers and TV commercials are as normal as cleavage in America, and their cultures don't seem to be imploding at the seams. European film and TV ratings in general have almost diametrically opposite views on "obscenity" as the MPAA and the FCC. Overall their ratings are tougher on violence and far more chill on nudity. I really believe America, as young as it is on the scale of these other countries, is finally mature enough "culturally" to handle the female areola.

Since I began this film, both men and women ask me: with all the serious problems in the world today, is freeing women's nipples really that important of an issue? In response I sometimes quote California Attorney Carol Agate who stated, "The issue is not trivial. The imposition on women is great, the inconvenience real, the stigma pernicious."

It's been over 75 years since the men in this country fought for their basic human right to be topless in public. It wasn't easy. They were battling the church, the government, the status quo -- but they would not back down. In a few short years men recaptured their freedom -- a freedom every man in this country now enjoys. But today there are states in America that are arresting and harassing women for breastfeeding in public. I believe these laws do not reflect the dream on which the United States was founded, and I believe the time is now for the American people to step up and Free The Nipple.

2014-01-06-comp.jpg

Click here for more information and to support Free the Nipple.

4.5 ·
3
What's Next
Trending Today
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 21,521 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 6,494 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure
Daniel Quinn · 2,377 views today · PART ONE A fable to start with Once upon a time life evolved on a certain planet, bringing forth many different social organizations—packs, pods, flocks, troops, herds, and...
You Should Get Naked More Often. It's Good for You.
Joni Sweet · 1,063 views today · When Nelly encouraged overheated people worldwide to get naked in 2002, he was unknowingly advocating much more than just a sexy, sweaty dance party. Sunbathing, sleeping...
Lawns Are for Suckers. Plant a Garden - for the Climate!
Nathanael Johnson · 990 views today · Ripping out your lawn and planting kale and peppers won’t just lead to great stir-fry — a new study finds it could make major contributions to fighting climate change...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 984 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 747 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 686 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
Gabor Maté: Why Our Culture Makes So Many Of Us Unhappy
3 min · 686 views today · Dr. Gabor Maté explains why it is that our culture makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to one another, miserable, alienated from ourselves, etc. Watch the full interview in Part 2.
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 653 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 635 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
How Native Americans Managed "Wild" Land Long Before Settlers
Sami Grover · 627 views today · When European settlers first came to North America, they assumed they were looking at "untouched" nature. Sure, there were native peoples, but history tells us they didn't...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 614 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Solidarity Is About What You Do - Not Who You Are.
R.L. Stephens · 553 views today · I am Black. I capitalize Black and leave white lowercased. Sure, it’s the accepted spelling, but really I do it because it feels good. My family lived in Missouri, but my...
A New Story for Humanity (2016)
102 min · 519 views today · Inspired by the New Story Summit at the Findhorn Foundation: a sold-out multicultural, multigenerational inquiry into a new story for humanity, attended by change makers and...
Masculinity Is Killing Men: The Roots of Men and Trauma
Kali Holloway · 449 views today · We begin the damaging process of turning boys into men long before boyhood ends.
Bitter Lake (2015)
136 min · 431 views today · Adam Curtis: Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events. But now there are no big stories and politicians react...
Bioregional Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Place in Which You Live?
Rua Lupa · 416 views today · In the vast emptiness of space there are an unimaginable number of galaxies, each galaxy containing billions upon billions of stars. Looking at one galaxy we find an average...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 415 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Why You Should Take Your Kids Out of School
Ben Hewitt · 412 views today · We don't need no education. At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Facebook Wages War on the Nipple