Advocacy

It’s time to free the nipple.

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FREE THE NIPPLE CARA DELVIGNE INSTAGRam
Model and actress Cara Delevigne posted this image on Instagram in support of #FreetheNipple. Image via Instagram.

Warning: this post contains nipples.

It all started with a simple Facebook post.

Renee Gerber is a 21-year-old Queenslander—and she’s the latest person to get on board with the #FreeTheNipple campaign—in particular, a social media campaign promoting—you guessed it—nipples.

The campaign—set to launch later today—plays a game of “Guess Who?” by editing female and male (as well as transgender) nipples onto male bodies in order to protest the irrational and unequal status of women created by the sexualisation of the female nipple and breast. The goal of the campaign is to grant women the right to legally expose their breasts, as well as to destigmatise breastfeeding in public. In order to promote inclusiveness, the 20 images (with various quotes and captions) will include nipples of all genders, sexualities, races and body types.

“It’s important to understand that they’re simply body parts, and if you constantly sexualise them, that’s your own inappropriate interpretation.” Ms Gerber said.

After viewing an Instagram post last Sunday night about Orange is the New Black star Matthew McGorry doing something similar, Ms Gerber decided to upscale it into a campaign for equality. A simple Facebook post about her frustrations brought the campaign to life—and 29-year-old Clinton Ulfhedinn-Visi into the picture, who too believes it’s an important issue, and that women shouldn’t  be shamed for their natural bodies.

MATTHEW MCGORRY
Matthew McGorry photoshopped Miley Cyrus and Chrissy Teigan’s nipples in support of the #FreetheNipple campaign. Image via Instagram.

“It’s about mother’s breastfeeding, [women] swimming in uncomfortable tops, having to constantly think about what you’re wearing, and if you’re covered up correctly,” he said.

“It’s about the fact I don’t even think about putting a shirt on when it’s hot around the house. It’s the fact that it’s just simply not fair and equal.”

The pair hope the campaign will raise awareness, encourage conversation and eventually lead to parliamentary change with enough support.

“We want it to go viral,” Ms Gerber said.

While some may believe campaigns like this are immoral and useless, they may not realise that in Australia, women can be imprisoned for showing their nipples. According to section 393 of the Crimes Act 1900 ACT, indecent exposure, which is defined as “a person who offends against decency by the exposure of his or her person in a public place”, carries a penalty of up to 12 months imprisonment. The legislation is similar in all other Australian states, with varied terms of imprisonment and in some cases, hefty fines

CLINT NIPPLE
“Who’s nipples are those? They certainly aren’t mine, but this picture is okay because i’m a male. I even stuck my chest out for you, why should the fatty lumps on my chest be okay when others are not? If those same nipples were on a different chest, this picture would violate T&C’s, be deleted, and I might even get a ban on my account. Sounds a bit ridiculous? That’s because it is.” Image via Facbook.

But really, why do we consider it “indecent”? The primary function of the female breast is to breastfeed—it’s only become sexualised because we as a society believe it to be. And let’s not forget that it was only a few decades ago that it was illegal for men to expose their nipples in public.

In the United States, it’s illegal for women to be topless—even when breastfeeding—in 35 states, with threats of up to 3 years imprisonment, and $2500 in fines. It was only 75 years ago that it was illegal for men—in all states—to be shirtless.

This is why the Free the Nipple campaign—which originated in the US—is so important. It even has a film dedicated towards the movement, which proclaims itself to be a “mission to empower women across the world” by standing against female oppression and censorship.

Ms Gerber said it’s just another form of female oppression—and also points out that women in other countries aren’t even allowed to show their ankles. While this may seem absurd to us, to them, it is normal—it serves as proof that our expectation on what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable for a woman’s body is purely social conditioning.

FREE THE NIPPLE 2
Are they female nipples? Who knows. Image supplied.

“Cultures have long controlled women’s bodies, and unfortunately ours is one of them,” Mr Ulfhedinn-Visi said.

Even Facebook and Instagram follows the same logic—a person may post a picture of a woman’s entire breast, so long as it doesn’t reveal the nipple, as that would violate its “community standards”.

Ms Gerber believes Facebook further perpetuates the sexualisation of the female nipple, and that it is important to challenge that.

“With our photos, we’re refusing to reveal if the nipples used are male or female. It’s almost impossible to visually tell the difference,” she said.

FREE THE NIPPLE 3
IT’S OKAY, it’s a man. No violation to community standards here. Image supplied.

“The nipple is a way to feed children. We all start as female in the womb, that’s why men have nipples in the first place,” Mr Ulfhedinn-Visi said.

“This view we as a society have of women’s bodies is really toxic and harmful,”

“We deserve the right to our own bodies—we’re born with them. When that right is taken away, it becomes oppressive,” Ms Gerber said.

“It’s an example of pure female objectification.”

Support for the campaign—even before it’s official release—has been astounding, with many volunteering their nipples as tribute. Australian model JD Gower, as well as model and musician Barnaby Oakley, are involved as well as a few others yet to be confirmed. Ms Gerber hopes to collaborate with the Veronicas, as she’s collaborated with them on similar issues in the past. Miley Cyrus and Cara Delevigne are also strong supporters of the American Free the Nipple campaign.

MILEY CYRUS FREE THE NIPPLE INSTAGRAM
Miley Cyrus posted an image in support of the #FreetheNipple campaign, which was shortly removed for violation to community standards. Image via Instagram.

“People are waking up to the sexist and slut shaming ideologies we’ve been taught, and they’re not happy,” Ms Gerber said.

“It’s time for change.”

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Do the choices you make support animal abuse?

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Six million animals will be tested on each year in Australia and New Zealand alone. In many cases, these animals are subject to a degree of pain and/or stress. Of these 6 million, nearly 26,000 will die, and a further 124,000 will experience major trauma—this includes being artificially induced with cancer, made to experience major infections, isolation as well as deprivation. More than a million will also experience a degree of stress and discomfort.

And the animals used would surprise you—of course, over a million of these are mice, but a whopping 765,000 are native mammals, including koalas, wallabies, possums and wombats. Cats and dogs are also commonly used.

But the problem is that most of us don’t even know we’re supporting animal cruelty. By purchasing and using these products, we are unknowingly supporting a culture that believes animal lives are less important than human lives—it’s supporting a culture that claims to love animals, yet has no problem with subjecting them to harm and abuse.

We know this is so utterly wrong—so what can we do about it?

As with any kind of advocacy, education is key. Educate yourselves on the products you’re using—and what products test on animals. Cleaning products that test on animals include Ajax, Glen 20, Finish, Windex, Raid, Duck, Dettol, Oral B, Gillette and impulse.  Cosmetic offenders include Max Factor, Maybeline, MAC, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Cover Girl, Clinique, Mary Kay, Avon, Clearasil, Napoleon and Elizabeth Arden.

Most of these things live either under my sink or in my make-up bag. But since becoming aware of the issue, I’ve sought out cruelty-free alternatives that are AWESOME. The Choose Cruelty Free app is a great place to start, as is good old Google. Fear not about compromising on quality; I’ve made myself a Guinea pig so you don’t have to.

Here are my top cruelty-free cosmetics you should DEFINITELY try:

Lush:

Lush are an Australian company which makes hand-made cosmetics and body care products—and they are ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I’m currently using their skin care products, soaps, bath bombs and some cosmetics. Everything leaves me feeling clean, relaxed, soft and fragrant. Their facial cleanser, spot treatment and moisturiser has done amazing things for my oily, acne-prone skin; and I especially love their bottled lip colours. Surprisingly, they do have a fair bit of staying power—though beware: they tend to smudge easy!

Kat Von D:

I cannot rave about these products enough! Her studded kiss lipsticks and everlasting liquid lipsticks last all day, with oodles of awesome colours–including one rather lovely light purple. The foundation is absolutely mind-blowing. It will stay on all day, and it won’t leave those awful marks on your face when you wear sunglasses with your make up! The eye shadow colours are phenomenal, and the liquid eye liner pens come in all sorts of colours, and are delicate enough to make wings sharp enough to cut the haters.  Most of her products are vegan, too! Kat Von D products make up most of my makeup bag. You can buy them online or instore at Sephora.

Australis:

One of the cheaper brands out there, Australis may pleasantly surprise you. In fact, I think their eye shadows and pressed powders are on par with products you may end up spending hundreds on. If you can find it, try it—products are normally around $10: fantastic value for money.

Nude by Nature:

I’ve used their CC cream and liquid foundation—both of which are available in a variety of shades, and are quite nice and light on your skin (sometimes the liquid foundation can flake if it’s caked on—but lasts super well in our hot Australian weather). My favourite product is a liquid illuminator, which somehow seems to perfect your face and minimise your pores. I’ve also heard good things about their mineral powder. These products are roughly around $20-40, but I think it’s worth it.

Arbornne:

I love these products. While they are a bit pricey, I think quality is worth it. Their primer is brilliant! And it’s great they have so many different foundation colours—score for us super pale ladies! I am eager to try more of their products, though—as a poor uni student—I definitely can’t afford to any time soon. Sigh—the woes of cosmetics!

Young Blood:

These products are the most expensive on the list, but they are quite lovely. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of mineral cosmetics. I’d prefer products with a bit more coverage—but if minerals are your thing, give them a try.

Natio:

Natio’s eyeshadows are pretty great—though I wish they had a bigger range! I have tried their mineral foundation and primer, but wasn’t too pleased: there wasn’t enough coverage for me. On the plus side, Natio are pretty cheap, and have colours for us pale ladies! And aside from lip products, Natio is vegan!

Other products I’ve heard good things about are Ere Perez and Inika—but I’m yet to try them.

You make the choice dear readers. Because whether you like it or not, if you purchase products which test on animals, you’re promoting animal abuse, and prolonging the outdated idea that animals are ours to do with as we wish. Don’t be silent! Sign the RSPCA campaign against animal testing here.

Have you tried any great vegan/cruelty-free products? Let me know in the comments

Petition against Indian sister’s rape punishment exceeds 220,000 signatures

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Two Indian women face rape threats after brother’s elopement with a married woman. Source: Faisil Magray, Cover Asia Press

It’s been two days since Amnesty International launched its petition to save two young Indian women from the punishment of rape for their brother’s alleged “crimes”, and already, it has received over 220,000 signatures.

On July 30, 23-year-olrd Meenakshi Kumari and her 15-year-old sister were given the sentence by an unelected, all-male local council in Baghpat, India, which included being paraded with blackened faces through their village for their brother’s “crime”—he eloped with a married woman of a higher caste.

Since then, the Kumari sisters—of the underprivileged Dalit caste, have fled with their family to a secret location in New Delhi. They are in the process of appealing their case to India’s Supreme Court.

According to Amnesty International:

“Nothing could justify this abhorrent punishment. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s against the law.”

These women now live in constant fear for their safety.

Meenakshi–the eldest of the pair facing rape punishment. Source: Faisil Magray, Cover Asia Press

“How will we ever return home or to our village? If we ever return, they will harm us or rape us. If not today, then in the future,” one of the sister’s told reporters.

The petition has been circulated widely on social media, and is only 30,000 signatures away from its 250,000 goal.