Undressing a double standard: The male monopoly on the naked nipple

Undressing+a+double+standard%3A+The+male+monopoly+on+the+naked+nipple

Craig Gettman, Senior Staff Writer

I’m a big guy. It’s OK, I can admit it. I’m overweight. Some would even say fat. That’s not really what’s important here. The important part is: I’m male.

As someone who identifies as such and is biologically male, I’m afforded many opportunities in this country that my female counterparts are unable to enjoy. One of the most basic of these privileges is being able to take off my shirt and expose my upper chest area, without having to wear a bra to cover up my man-boobs.

Were I genetically or otherwise female, I would not be able to do this without risking an indecent exposure charge. Or, at the very least, people leering at me because I happened to be female.

Does this strike anyone else as odd, or is it just me? I could walk around with my flabby upper chest hanging out for all the world to see. If I were a woman, I’d likely get catcalls, obscene comments and/or old-fashioned leering. There’s also the possibility that authorities would charge me with indecent exposure.

Why is this?

As a man, I’m only asking because it doesn’t seem fair that flabby old me can walk around without a shirt on and face little to no repercussions; meanwhile, a young, fit and attractive female couldn’t do the same thing. Otherwise, she’d risk getting in all sorts of trouble.

Technically, there is no California state law banning female toplessness. In fact, breast baring is only banned statewide in Utah, Tennessee and Indiana. Regardless, certain city ordinances exist, such as in Los Angeles County, where nudity is banned on beaches. San Francisco also forbids nudity.

In many places, female nipples are the issue. So men can parade around showing theirs, while women have to cover them up with at least pasties. It’s as though women are being singled out for the simple fact of being female.

Historically, this makes sense due to the overwhelmingly patriarchal nature of this country. Men like to have control, and they’ve exercised this control since before the U.S. was an independent nation.

Even to this day, the attitude persists that women are little more than property. Men treat them like objects, things to be possessed and used. Some men want to control how women act, think, feel, dress and express themselves. Thus, the female breast, as part of these objects, must remain under strict control.

Interestingly enough, the U.S. isn’t the only country where nudity is frowned upon or outright illegal. In the UK, for example, public nudity can earn you jail time.

Overall, however, the attitude is different. Most anywhere in Europe, it’s not uncommon to see both men and women nude in public. In Paris, this mostly involves sunbathers along the Seine. If you go anywhere in the French Riviera, nudity is quite common. In Spain, people can stroll through the city of Barcelona nude with nary a care.

So why is it different here?

The answer is: the patriarchy. This country was founded by men, for men. It has remained this way from the moment the founding fathers penned the Declaration of Independence. Men have made the laws and enforced them, despite the fact that women have arguably contributed as much or even more than men to the welfare of this nation.

Regardless of how useful women have been, they’ve never really been treated equally. It took until 1920 — nearly 150 years from the signing of the Declaration of Independence — for women to gain the right to vote.

Though women have made strides in recent years in gaining certain civil rights, the fact remains that being female, especially in this country, equals being below men in many aspects.

This is ridiculous. People’s genitalia should not dictate whether they recieve equal treatment as human beings. Instead, women are sexualized and objectified, while at the same time being controlled much like slaves in the antebellum South.

It’s time for this to stop. Women are just as capable, if not more so in some aspects, as men in making major contributions to society. It’s unfair and despicable that women are treated as “things,” simply existing to be sex objects for men to own, much like a literal trophy.

Guys, seriously. Let’s grow up. There’s a lot to be said about the term “gentleman.” You can act respectfully towards women; you don’t even have to give up your confidence. Allowing a woman to be free and express herself shouldn’t threaten your masculinity. A woman should be in control of her own body, just as a man is in control of his.

So, ladies, let your breasts go free. I promise I won’t ogle. I might give you a thumbs-up, but I would never disrespect you.