Head to Head: Nipples should be as free as women

Katrina Leibee

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

This is a head to head column. Read the opposing view here.

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Since the 19th amendment finally gave suffrage to women, females have been pushing the boundaries of what gender equality looks like. A bill recently passed in Fort Collins that allows women to go topless in the city is another positive step towards equality that woman have fought tooth and nail for.

It was argued in court that allowing men to walk topless in public but prohibiting women from doing the same is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution. Looking at just legality, this is absolutely true. Allowing men to do something but not women is unconstitutional.

That being said, it is understandable where the backlash and controversy surrounding this bill is coming from. My colleague Abby Vander Graaff and I agree that this bill is ultimately not a very urgent topic right now. Even with the bill passed, the likelihood that women will begin going topless in public is slim.

That does not matter, though. Many women may choose not to vote, but what is important is that they have the option if they so desire because their male counterparts do.

Vander Graaff argued that Americans view female breasts as sexual, private body parts, and we should treat them like that. However, it is fair to say that women were never given the opportunity to decide if they wanted their breasts to be sexualized. They were merely told to cover up.

“As humans, we are sexual beings, and the time has come for that fact to no longer be whispered, but proudly stated.”

In an article in the Springer Journal of Research titled, Breasts Are for Men: Media, Masculinity Ideologies, and Men’s Beliefs About Women’s Bodies,” the authors wrote that “It is argued that one reason women have difficulty choosing to breastfeed is their discomfort with the culture’s sexualization of the breast.” Women have become uncomfortable doing something completely natural merely because of our culture’s hyper-sexualization of female breasts.

Even if we have chosen to view female breasts as provocative, that is okay. As humans, we are sexual beings, and the time has come for that fact to no longer be whispered, but proudly stated.

Additionally, there is a loophole that was overlooked when the city of Fort Collins first prohibited women from going topless but not men. The government failed to recognize those outside of the gender binary. Anyone who identifies as other than male or female were ultimately excluded and are still excluded from this discussion. Technically, anyone who does not identify as a woman has always been free to go topless.

Now, any law or bill that mentions men or women is excluding a lot of people. Allowing women to go topless is a step in the right direction towards equality for all genders and possibly passing the Equal Rights Amendment nationally, which would end all gender-based discrimination.

My colleague argues that allowing women to go topless is taking steps backwards for feminism as it sends the message that female breasts should be viewed as something more than just body parts. It is actually quite the opposite. Female breasts can be viewed as sexual body parts, but feminism asks for us all to become comfortable with sexuality regardless of gender.

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This bill is asking nothing more from society than to extend the same privileges to all genders, something that we shouldn’t have to ask for anymore. Free women from limitations; free the nipple.

Katrina Leibee can be reached at letters@collegian.com or Twitter @KatrinaLeibee.