By Sylvia Lee
Every summer there are topless women (and men) tanning on Bondi Beach. But when a woman posts a topless photo of herself or other women online, regardless of whether it be sexual or not, it will get removed from social media sites for violating community guidelines…
As an Australian woman, I find it hypocritical that most social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram remove images featuring women’s nipples, including women breast-feeding, whilst allowing topless men bare their chests.
All of this takes place in an increasingly sexualised culture where more and more suggestive images are within the public arena, whether on huge billboards or in the media, and porn can be accessed so easily.
But nipples on social media? How terrifying. It just doesn’t make sense.
What exactly is the difference between a male and female nipple? Who gets to decide when to sexualise content that is clearly not intended for that purpose?
When will we stop policing women’s bodies?
Enough is enough when content teaching women how to conduct breast self-examinations have to use ‘moobs,’ or a man’s breasts, to bypass online censorship of female nipples. Enough is enough when women are resorting to posting images where they’ve photoshopped male nipples over their own bare chests to make a statement online, because the same image of their female nipples would mean violating community guidelines. Enough is enough when powerful corporations get to decide that an iconic, history-changing photograph of a terrified Vietnamese girl fleeing napalm bombs should be banned due to nudity.
To say that there are double standards in the online censorship of nudity and within our society would be a gross understatement.
Whether we like it or not, women’s breasts have been unnecessarily and hyper sexualised to the point where even innocent images of a mother breastfeeding her child or artistic images of braless women can be seen as ‘inappropriate’ and subsequently banned online. Yet somehow, male nipples and content involving simulated sex aren’t subject to the same level of censorship.
We may have come a long way equality wise, but we still have a long way to go.
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