The wind hung limply in the air as crowds gathered around the ocular spectacle that stood around the horror that is the west pier; confidently portraying their natural attributes that hold point, purpose and form in a multitude of varieties, also milk; for babies. Human babies.
Although relatively small in number for a sunny protest day in Brighton, the Free the Nipple movement drew peoples gaze away from their ice creams and selfies for there was something greater on display; the female bosom.
With the intent of bringing about equality for all genders and abolishing the age old idiocy of hiding women’s nipples because of some social stigmata of sexualisation, Free the Nipple plan on normalizing nudity for women by bringing the offending protuberance to the fore front of their cause; much to the joy of many young boys and leering old men it seemed.
As a white male, I have an endless barrage of privilege, even if I grew up lower class on benefits in violent neighbourhoods of London. My social standing allows me freedoms that many of different cultures and genders have died fighting for, yet I was born with it and will enjoy it into old age.
The first thing I noticed at this march for equality, which instantly set my blood boiling, was the sheer amount of unabated, unashamed ogling that was occurring from the passing male contingent. The two knuckle draggers that first caught my eye stood leeringly postured, swaying ever so lightly from the three or four pints of Carling in the Harvester before hand, phones raised and drool hanging from the corner of their collective mouth. Their faces gave away their emotions; they barely seemed to contain their sheer disbelief and joy at the sight of a horde of swaying mammary glands. After a few minutes a member of the march wandered over and asked them to delete the photos they had been taking, which they very clearly did not, but in exchange, the pair parted with about a fivers worth of coins for their troubles into the collection bucket and strolled off, and if I were to make a judgment, they were both heading home to masturbate furiously to the bootlegged sound of football chants whilst occasionally glancing at their phones.
This theme carried on for the duration that I stood there; groups of young boys congregated on the scene, even more gobsmacked than the middle aged drunks, though they may have been shocked at the sight of female anatomy that did not resemble a scene from a pornographic video cassette – one that features a heavily moustached man pounding a big breasted girl from behind on a tiger rug in…oh wait, that’s probably quite tame in comparison to what the youth are used to nowadays. I digress; once again, the phones were out and many sniggers were shared, and each time the same girl who appeared to be running the event would ask very nicely if they would refrain from taking pictures and delete whatever material they had already taken.
Where were my feelings of anger towards these interactions coming from? Was it the absurdity of their reactions to something that I personally support and feel at ease with, making my open minded liberal approach superior or was it my despair at the uneducated yokels that litter our towns and cities for being so boorish? Maybe it was a subconscious feeling of protectiveness that is ingrained in the male psyche towards women who “aren’t as capable of looking after themselves” (or so some would have us believe)? So many possibilities, it’s probably best not to think about them and carry on with life.
As a man there are so many interactions in life that I will never experience or even have the capacity to truly understand that at times it shakes me to the core. How can we be so far removed from our sisters whilst being aware of the daily grind that many of them face? Even without constant sexual harassment or ridiculous pay gaps, the small aggression’s they come up against day in and day out are so out of reach of our understanding that it’s no wonder we aren’t progressing out of this continuing age of sexism faster.
The complexities of something as simple as the nipple are absurd to say the least, but for those of us that do not come up against that and other patriarchal idiocies it can be a minefield of good intention, mansplaining and confusion. It is where even the better educated of us that are concerned about equal rights for women and other genders need to not charge into the furor, all guns blazing with opinions and answers on how to change the world, but sit back and listen to how women think it should work.
It does not directly affect us and I don’t think that we should form our own strong opinions on the matter. In an ideal world you would not want someone from the elites of Eton lecturing others on the struggle and strife of council estate living, even if their intentions were honest and true. By the same merit, we as men do not need to bring our own good intentions to the table by trying to form solutions when there are plenty of strong and capable women that can do it for themselves. Our job is to support these ideas and spread the word of equality, positivity and unity from those that live and understand these struggles, by actions within our privileged spheres we can exhibit change from within.
To return to the boys that were so overwhelmed by the sight of many pairs of breasts, after some careful thought I have come to the conclusion that although their actions were not very courteous or acceptable socially, their exposure to flat chested women and drooping breasted girls can only be a positive. By normalising the female areola you allow change to occur, the mystery and desexualisation becomes defunct and young boys who have grown into adult men hold beliefs that their fathers and peers did not hold before them.
Rather than chastise our youth for their sometimes derogatory opinions and ways of thinking, we should maintain forever and always that every single human is a product of their environment and that with nurture and education, we can shape our world into a better form of equality than we have now. We will never find universal peace and there will always be a downtrodden, but if we can find unity within our sexes then we may be one step closer to creating a better world for our children to live in.