I play frisbee on a regular basis with my older brother and some of his friends. I’m usually one of two or three girls out of approximately 14 people who show up to play. It’s summer. It’s hot. I understand that a few of the guys want to take off their shirts. It’s a different story when they joke about one team being ‘skins’ because then automatically myself and whoever else happens to have been born with female anatomy are excluded from said team. Our ability to play is no longer a factor.
Which leads me to question why do nipples exude sexuality? A woman could walk around in pasties and although she wouldn’t be considered ‘decent’, it’s a whole different story when her bare breast is entirely exposed. It’s one inch of a person’s body that is only sexy because it on the end of a woman’s breast.
If nipples are only around to serve as a feminine attribute that justifies the notion of the nurturing mother breast feeding her child, then the cartoons have it right. Cartoon men do not have nipples.
But I didn’t know that when I was a child. I would draw women with no eyebrows and men with no eyelashes.
As a child what did I know of nipples? But I knew (though I couldn’t tell you where I learned it) that certain features were masculine and certain features were feminine. If you messed that up your drawing was worthless because who would be able to tell if you had drawn a lovely woman or a handsome man?
Based on this cartooning logic there is only one solution to the nipple problem: nipples should be exclusive to the female just like eyelashes so no one can ever be confused again.
But in all seriousness, it’s one thing to pick me last when playing frisbee because, as a woman, I’m not as strong or fast a a man. It’s something else entirely when the sexism goes from being unintentional unconscious perceptions to blatant ostracism based on anatomy men and women both share. I’m not asking women to run around topless to prove a point, but I am asking men and women to question why it is acceptable for a man to bare his nipples to the world and for a woman to need to cover up.