Feeling free makes me happy… deep down in my soul content and strong and happy.
I have been pondering the power of condescension and minimizing when it comes to the topfreedom movement. Critics sometimes call the effort to normalize female bare-chestedness boring, a “non-issue”, a waste of time, etc.
They ask why we are debating nipples when there are so many more important things to worry about. Members of the Springfield, Missouri City Council just used such dismissive language while passing an ordinance banning female bare-chestedness.
What I also notice though is that these comments arrive when there remains no other argument with which to rebut the fact that equality means equality.
“But men’s and women’s bodies are different.”
Not under the law.
“Equality doesn’t mean equal equal.”
Yes, it does.
“It will hurt children.”
No, it won’t.
“This is boring. Why are we even talking about this?”
First of all, asserting equality of any kind is never boring or wasting time. That’s kind of a given. But if we listen closer, what is a person really saying when he or she describes something as boring or a non-issue?
The word “boring” means uninteresting, tedious or monotonous.
Well…if bare female breasts are really uninteresting to you, why are you passing an ordinance against it??
Whenever emotions, actions and words misalign, I search for a source of fear. People who declare the topfreedom movement trivial but then fight it betray a deep fear of empowered women. They pronounce the fight for equality to be a waste of time in an effort to make its proponents doubt its value, experience shame and retreat.
Shame is an age-old tactic when trying to defeat women, both in public discourse or coming from of the mouth of a parent, police officer or spouse. It is a tactic that is losing its effectiveness quickly.
We learned this in middle school. Labeling a thing “boring” is one of the most dismissive and disarming things you can say.
But what was true then is true now. When someone announces another person’s passion to be boring or trivial, it’s a safe bet it’s neither. It’s a safe bet that it is powerful to the point of causing disruption to the critic’s perceived security.
And worth pursuing.
People who truly find an issue unimportant don’t weigh in at all. They have better things to do. And in a way, that’s great. It should be a non-issue, as men’s breasts are.
Felicity Jones wrote an efficient, beautiful article on the this topic. She is an eloquent and clear writer.
“To give women the right to go topfree in public is a powerful statement. It means desexualizing the female body and viewing women as human beings rather than sex objects. It means giving women autonomy over their own bodies as well as their sexuality and how they choose to express it. It means deconstructing traditional patriarchal gender roles that say women must be modest and chaste. Topfree equality means challenging the idea that a woman’s state of dress or undress determines her consent, sexuality or even her value as a person.” ~ Felicity Jones