free the nipple

Why I Believe in Freeing the Nipple

Breasts are beautiful, but nipples are commonplace. So why are these little nuggets causing such an uproar? Here’s why I believe in freeing the nipple.

45 comments

When I found out that I was going to be a mother, my whole world was shaken. My body was shaken. I felt my stomach spasm. I felt my soul shudder. I was terrified. I’m not ashamed to say it. Why should I be? It was an event that I felt totally unprepared and unqualified for. It was something that I still hadn’t decided I wanted. It was something that would change the entire course of my life. Why the hell is it not okay for a woman or man to freak the hell out and maybe spend some days crying about?

I know that there are many people out there who are fighting and longing to have children. I think that having that kind of love in your heart for a person that doesn’t exist yet is an incredibly beautiful thing. I didn’t have that sort of feeling about being a mother. And some dads don’t have that feeling either. The children come and you love them. You are willing to lay your life down for them. Show me the train speeding toward my child and I will gladly hurl them to safety and embrace my worthy demise.

But that doesn’t mean that parenting isn’t hard sometimes grinding experience. This was how I felt most often when my son was a baby. I didn’t feel like some women felt. There were mothers whoย  fawned over their babies and hoped they’d wake up from their nap just so that she could see her baby’s beautiful eyes. I loved my baby’s eyes. But I loved his eyelids more.

As a naturally slow moving person, every nerve in my body fired electric when my son woke up screaming for food, not in 5 minutes, but right now. As a disorganized and spontaneous person, I’d curse myself every time I forgot to pack fresh washcloths or a bib.

But there were some things that I was proud of. In the hospital, after my son was born, the nurses came around and told me that my son was nursing perfectly. He needed no instruction. He was a born professional. Wow, this was easier than I had hoped I thought.

Then the pain started. Then the pain became excruciating. You see, the nurses had glanced down at my nursing son, saw him sucking away, and determined that all was well. But actually, he had developed a habit of latching on improperly. He was sucking on my nipple and not the entire areola.

I know that I have male readers as well and I don’t want for you to feel like you’re intruding on a private conversation among women. You’re not. I want you here. You are fathers and husbands and boyfriends. More importantly, you’re human beings. As human beings we should be open to understanding each other despite differences. the more we can know and understand, the more love and appreciation grows. Not to mention you may have a woman friend one day who has a baby and maybe you can say, “Hey, watch out for this issue. I read about this problem you might encounter as a new mom.” That’s called showing someone love, and that is not regulated by gender.

Anyhow, I found myself crying desperately as pain shot through my breasts. I could barely think. Time that should’ve been spent bonding with my beautiful baby who already loved me too was spent cringing in pain. I no longer looked forward to feeding, which I had at the start. I dreaded it.

Thankfully, on my last day in the hospital one of the women who works in the hospitals Lactation Center came around to my room to check on me. I told her what I was going through, that the nurse said he was doing well, and she set me straight. She showed me the proper way. It took time for my nipples to heal and to retrain my son to properly nurse. But once those things happened, I was the biggest advocate for breastfeeding.

The fact that he refused to accept a bottle of any kind made my breastfeeding efforts even more important. I tried every type of bottle that was supposed to feel real and he rejected every one of them. Thank goodness that I was able to produce milk and have time with my son to regularly nurse. Everything was all good.

And then. Then I was out of the hospital and back to life. I remember one day my now ex-husband and myself decided to just go cruise around the mall because I was feeling trapped in the very small world of our condo.

Inevitably the kid got hungry and started screaming his dear little guts out. To see the kid, you’d think I had just been pulling out his nose hairs one by one with tweezers. We found a bench in the emptiest corner of the mall and I pulled out his blanket, whipped out my boob under it and tried to nurse him. He didn’t want to be covered up. He was interested in the sights around him and probably hot from all that crying.

I covered my breast and his face with the blanket; he pulled it off. Again and again this repeat. Remember, I’m a struggling mom. This is one of my few times out with him. (I was really terrified as a new mom and hardly left the house with him alone but that’s for another post).

So what was there left to do? I was perfectly fine with saying screw the world, my breasts are designed for this. Fuck you if you’re offended seeing a breast with a child attached. But that’s not what happened. I took my husband’s and societies definitions of acceptable and walked my baby into a mall bathroom to feed him freely.

Excuse me, but what the fuck. How many of you take your lunch into a bathroom to eat?

So not only was I relegated to feeding my son in a bathroom to the sound track of people flushing all manners of body trash, I had to stand up to do it. Outside was a bench and clean air, but as a breastfeeding mom, society told me to take standing in a bathroom. That was my place.

I cried. I was a new mom. I was standing in the bathroom. We had been walking a lot and my back was hurting. Breastfeeding makes a woman’s core temperature rise, so I was hot. And I started crying. You see, I realized when I got pregnant that I’d face some miserable moments, and I did. During the pregnancy and afterwards, often in the middle of the night or day or morning. Whatever, it popped up all the time.

But those times of misery were in service to my baby. This misery was in service to people I didn’t even know and who didn’t give a damn about me.

I felt like an outcast. I felt like I had sacrificed my freedom and my place in the world. I felt like a bad mom for putting my child to nurse in this crappy environment. Back at home, his dad insisted that everyone wash their hands before touching our new baby, but here I was in a public restroom. I felt like I was allowing an injustice and going along with it.

And guess what folks? I was.

My daughter was born prematurely. When I went home from the hospital, she had to stay behind. That was tough. And that is an understatement. The staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit told me that they best thing that I could do for her is give her breast milk.

Okay. Of course. So I pumped milk every 2 hours, even when only 4 dropsย  was all I could produce at firstย (no exaggeration). And everyday I drove down to the hospital so that I could hand over the precious liquid. As the days passed, I produced more milk and she soon was able to use a bottle.

I was missing the connection of breastfeeding so much, so imagine how happy I was when I was told by staff that she had gotten big enough and strong to nurse. Till this day, it’s one of the happiest moments of my life.

But when I took her out in public, I had two choices. Option 1 was to nurse in public and put a blanket over her sweet face while she looked up at me in careful study and satisfaction. Babies and moms get a great rush of happy hormones when they nurse. Eye contact during any type of feeding is very bonding. (This is way it’s great for dad’s to take part in feedings as well). But who cares about that. Put your boob away! Option 2 was to forget about the blanket and find a freaking bathroom to stand in. Either option is a buzzkill of a beautiful experience, and for what? Because society has an issue with women nursing in public.

A lot of the same people who have no problem ogling breasts in tv and movies find a problem with women nursing in public. Who owns breasts anyway?

breastfeeding at the mall
source: doublethink.us.com

There’s a movement going on: Free the Nipple. I’ve been hearing about it here and there, and honestly I hadn’t much looked into it until recently. I heard that women walked the streets of New York and other cities topless. I wasn’t sure what kind of message that was sending.

I do know that wearing bras has an adverse effect on women’s health. I do know that the male dominated film industry has been capitalizing on women’s breasts for fucking ever. I do know that I want to feed my baby in the least stressed condition possible. I know that hormones good and bad are passed to our children while they nurse.

As for me, I barely wear a bra anymore. That’s also for another post. I’ll try to make it soon! My male readers have certainly perked up I’m sure.

Anyhow, I was listening to a Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast (which I highly recommend) and the episode entitled “Nipple Nonsense” introduced me to the reasons, the logic, behind the Free the Nipple movement. Wow was I enlightened.

Turns out that women are getting arrested in various parts of the country for the crime of breastfeeding in public, also known as public lewdness, or indecent exposure. What?

I suppose that it’s indecent because men have relegated the breasts as sexual objects superior to their purpose as functional objects. They are made for nursing! How can that be lewd? How are people not seeing a difference between a nursing breast and any old tit? And I won’t just blame men. There are many women who find breastfeeding in public, or in front of anyone for that matter, lewd.

Back in the day, the men of New York decided to throw a fit and demand that their nipples be freed. Male nipples were considered inappropriate for public consumption, even at the beach.

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They protested. They were arrested. Eventually, in 1936, they won. They freed their nipples. When men go to the beach, they take their shirt off and get a goodly tan. Women get sent to prison.

Part of what Free the Nipple is advocating is freedom to rule over our bodies in the same way that men can in the same situations. Women can walk down the beach with a thread up their ass (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and a sliver of thread on their boob, or X marks the spot tape, but as soon as that areola is showing, here come the law books.

What that says to me is that the problem isn’t truly about breasts. It’s just about the nipple. Women’s nipples are more powerful than men’s nipples, I suppose. And bare-chested men, apparently, are not at all titillating. Right ladies?

Of course you don’t find this any more attractive than if he were wearing a shirt.

men in full bathing suits 5
Of course, ladies, you find this no more attractive than if he were wearing a shirt, right?

 

Not! The idea here is that women have no sexual desire, so we can control ourselves around shirtless men. So the reverse implication seems to be that men, on the other hand, cannot control themselves. Women breastfeeding in public?

Society can’t allow such lewd and titillating behavior?

bohemian breastfeeding
source: bohemiandiesel.com

I feel that society will never get used to breasts, and that women will never be able to reclaim their breasts, if we continue to feed the idea that the female nipple is shameful. How many of you women have been totally embarrassed because you were cold and your nipples were showing? How many of you feel that despite the health benefits of going braless, you’d rather not because it will be perceived as slutty?

We women are always demanding that we be seen as valuable, and we want women’s contributions to society to be viewed as valuable, as they should be. I personally cannot think of many things more valuable than a mother having the gift of being able to nurture her child. I say gift because, sadly, some women don’t get the privilege. But here we are criminalizing it. Of course, the generations will keep being shocked if we aren’t striving to do our part to normalize it.

It’s my view that future generations will laugh at our prudeness. Some will say it’s because the world is deteriorating into a hotbed of moral corruption, and in many ways that’s true, but in many ways we are coming to realize that Nature had things right in the first place. It’s us that screwed things up.

I’d rather my son see a nursing mother in the mall and I say, “Isn’t it so cool, son, how women can produce their own milk source for their babies?” than to have to walk past an 8 foot poster of a Victoria Secret model’s boobs being held and squeezed together in our faces. Breastfeeding creates a natural and positive appreciation for women. The bra boobs creates a natural and (sometimes) positive appreciation of breasts, in a sexual way. Let’s be honest, both feelings are natural.

Think about this, please. If we as a society allow breasts to be broadcasted in every sexual way, yet deny their appearance as real objects of value, what message does that send? And what a missed opportunity to educate children (and some grown ups) on the value of women’s bodies. There was a time when pregnant women were kept hidden away so that children wouldn’t be corrupted. The kids got used to it.

What do you think readers? Is a woman’s breast something to be kept always under wraps? Do you think that there should be exceptions to our current cage the nipple laws? Do you, or have you, freed the nipple? Do you feel like the breast being involved changes the nipple dynamic between men and women?

What about little girls and boys who are equally flat-chested? Should little boys have the freedom and comfort of toplessness while flat-chested, prepubescent girls cover up?

Tell me what you think about our nipples and breastfeeding and equal toplessness at the beach. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts, and thanks for listening to mine. Men, I’d like to hear from you too. Thank you kindly.

 

 

 

 

 

45 comments on “Why I Believe in Freeing the Nipple”

  1. In the U.K. we have laws to protect breastfeeding women. Which is a good thing too as my baby also didn’t like being covered. Though even if she hadn’t minded I don’t think I should have had to cover up. After all, when breastfeeding your breast is only visible for a few moments and then mostly what you can see is baby’s head. There is nothing shameful or wrong about feeding a baby with the milk we were lucky enough to have been given by nature.
    I was taught an excellent phrase when I was little- gentlemen don’t look and the rest don’t matter. Good motto for new mothers I think!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your comment. It’s funny to think how we in the U.S. consider ourselves very progressive in the world, but we have such a long way to go still when it comes to women and family. I love that saying “Gentlemen don’t look and the rest doesn’t matter” because it gives men some burden of responsibility as well. It takes everyone to make society work. I felt really alone in the bathroom and it shouldn’t be that way. I’ll have to pass that saying on!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was little, I remember asking my mom why fat men with large ‘man boobs’ didn’t have to wear bras. If women had to wear them, than it’s only fair that men had to wear them too. And to a certain extent, I feel the same way. But I support the Free the Nipple movement. Let mommas breastfeed when and how they want. Let women dress (or not) how they want. If people are worried about the message it might be sending their children, then obviously they aren’t parenting their children properly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know that there’s some content that’s inappropriate for children, but I definitely think that as a society and world, we need to reevaluate where we draw lines and reconsider what we deem unacceptable. Why should women have tan lines on their boobs (though I kind of like them) when everyone knows what nipples look like and we all have them? Thanks for adding your thought darling ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

          1. Nope. Even stupider… I went sunbathing completely nude and figured since I would only be out for 20 minutes tops, I didn’t need any sunscreen… I’m a redhead. Not a proud moment. About 10 minutes on each side and I turned into a lobster.

            I did fall asleep outside one time in high school and had to miss school due to 1st degree burns on the back of my legs. I’ve learned my lesson about my poor skin and the sun. It’s 70spf or more from here on out!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely agree with you, what a well-written and thought-out post! Breastfeeding is beautiful and should never be perceived in a sexual way. But do you think it’s possible to “free the nipple” without the predominant conception of breasts being sexual objects?
    By the way, I would love to read about your decision to go bra-less. I switched to triangle bras recently, they’re at least more comfortable than underwire bras…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, thank you so much. I don’t know that seeing breasts as predominantly sexual will ever be, in our culture of hypersexuality, a norm. But I think that we can get used to it outside of a sexual context. I’m glad that breasts are seen as predominantly sexual because we only nurse for a few short years ๐Ÿ˜„ But men in Europe don’t collapse when the see a topless woman on the beach

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha yes, you’re absolutely right! Let’s think from a to b next time before commenting ;D
        And yes, it’s pretty common for women to go topless on the beach in Europe. I also don’t think that breastfeeding in public is such a big deal here…at least as far as I know!

        Liked by 2 people

    2. It hit send by accident. So I think we can all get used to a more natural way of being. It’s cool to hear that you’re into braless as well. I wanted to gather some science to help the post so I’ll write it as soon as I do a bit of research. I only wear underwire on very rare occasions now. I have a few beautiful ones that just sit in my drawer now. Gotta let them play sometimes.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I honestly don’t know if there’s any laws or what not about breastfeeding in public here. I have seen it very rarely, and everyone tends to just ignore it pretty much. We’re an apathetic bunch. But I do know that there are lots of specific baby cafes around. Basically, it’s a cafe that caters to mums with lots of bubs and toddlers. It’s safe, theres lots of meetings and groups that meet up there, and the babies can wander around as mum has a coffee. Breastfeeding also obviously goes on. A lot of the mums in the centre also breastfeed their babies. They come in on their lunch break. It’s totally normal. Its just boobs people. We all have them. Even dudes ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, even dudes ๐Ÿ˜… those cafes are a really cool concept. We may have a couple of them scattered about but it isn’t very common or even very heard of. I have heard of those cat cafes that are all the craze now LOL. I guess being apathetic is sometimes a good thing, you let people live there freaking life!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I wear a bra only in public if the top I’m wearing dictates that I should, I do have some decency. ๐Ÿ™‚ The rest of the time I go bra-less. I refuse to be trussed up like a chicken for the sake of vanity and society’s perceptions of what is and is not acceptable. I’ll decide what is and is not acceptable as far as wearing a bra or not is concerned. My boobs don’t hang down to my ankles (as my mother told me they would if I didn’t wear a bra 24/7), and I have no problem with radio dials poking out of my t-shirts. I can’t help my nipples hardening when it’s a bit chilly out, so I’m not going to worry about it. And those women who get mad at me because their partners can’t keep their eyes to themselves, need to seriously consider the kind of man they’re with, or lighten up.! Men like boobs, nipples will be noticed. Get over it.!
    I unfortunately had all kinds of issues breastfeeding my sons, and had to bottle feed them both before they were a month old. Had I been in a position to have to feed them in public, I would have. I’m not a brazen hussy, I’m a rebellious, defiant woman who hates being told what I can and cannot do by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. Don’t just free the nipple, flaunt it… the more they’re seen and accepted, the quicker we as a society will stop considering them sexual objects and stop being pathetically, pretend-y shocked, and accept them as the natural, nutrient-rich food sources they were designed to be.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’ve said everything so perfectly! You should’ve written this post ๐Ÿ˜„ Goodness, where to start. The whole braless issue, Yes! I was brought up to wear them 24/7 as well. I was terrified of sagging and slept with it in like it was law. Now I rarely ever. I have gotten looks, but I’m mentally trying to overcome the awkwardness of some men not having the willpower or decency to stop staring like a creeper. The more we step out, the more people will get over it.

      I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t able to nurse. It’s awesome that you continue to speak out for other women who are facing the struggle. I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. Thank you so much.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. To be totally forthright, I was unusually excited (if that describes “all” my emotions) when I read the title of this post! Thank you Lyz for helping me check them, regain some sense of sanity on this subject, and make a sensible comment!

    Bear with me a minute while I share an analogy — which is NOT fully representative of my personal views — that certainly touches nerves of feminist anger. And I don’t blame them. This debate or social issue, or more accurately in the U.S. a FEAR of our/their bodies, reminds me of a book by Egyptian author Alaa Al Aswany, a devout Muslim himself, who does not mince any words regarding Islamic extremists treatment of women. I wrote a post about this subject (Hyper-Anxiety Over Sex), but Steven Levingston of The Washington Post writes:

    In an essay titled, โ€œWhy Are Religious Fanatics Obsessed with Womenโ€™s Bodies?โ€ Aswany decries an incident in Somalia in which extremists arrested a woman and whipped her in public for wearing a bra. To the fanatics, wearing a bra is un-Islamic and a form of fraud and deception. Why? Because wearing a bra presents a false image of a womanโ€™s breasts. […]

    โ€œThe idea here,โ€ Aswany writes, โ€œis that a woman who accentuates her breasts by using a bra gives a false impression of the goods (her body), which is seen as fraud and deception by the buyer (the man) who might buy (marry) her for her ample breasts and later discover that they were ample because of the bra and not by nature.โ€ Not the least of the disconcerting aspects of this case, Aswany says, is how the extremists found the grounds to arrest the woman when she was fully covered.

    The rest of the article is superb and deserving of undivided attention and comprehension. I share this analogy because it reflects how an ideaology (questionable beliefs) can actually cause natural human nature serious harm and conflict. Here, there’s a volume of truth in the adage: A sure way to motivate someone to do something is to tell them they canโ€™t do it. These are obviously varying degrees of the same cultural issues; at the core location does not matter. The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus sums up the heart of the actual problem:

    Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.

    Breast-feeding banned (or severely frowned upon) in public is a reflection not of the mother, much less the infant, both of supreme societal, equal value (if not more!), but rather exclusively upon the laws/norms of the ciilization(?) in question and their law-makers. Period. Many can argue its simply pure control for the sake of men’s egos. I’d agree with them too.

    So, YES… free all of them! While living down in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, topless “mulheres deslumbrantes” (Lookers) were common place on the Copacabana and Ipenema beaches. At those beaches, if it became obvious us young American futebollers/footballers would require appropriate counter-measures, we’d simply go run into the ocean AT LEAST waist high. Easy. Effective. Then it would all pass…

    …for maybe 5-10 minutes.

    We spent a LOT of time in the water! o_O In hindsight, we probably should’ve spent more time on the futebol fields!

    Like

    1. Grrrrrr… check that, it should correctly read: …can actually cause genetic human nature not natural human nature. Ugh! If you’d like to correct that Lyz then delete this comment, that’s fine with me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow, the analogy you shared about women not being allowed to wear bras really illustrates the negative results of other people having a say over our bodies. In one place it’s a sign or morality, in another it’s a sign of falsehood. So much strife over something so natural. We’ve worked ourselves into various corners of confinement because of our need to control people. I’m all for morality and decorum, but I haven’t the right to punish someone for not meeting my standards, esp. when those standards are always changing. Men and women can control themselves when it comes to sexual urges. Even animals don’t choose whatever is available. They make choices. We can choose to respect people and nature as well. That article sounds very interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hah! You’ve shed poignant light on this aspect Lyz. Well done!

        Even animals donโ€™t choose whatever is available. They make choices. We can choose to respect people and nature as well.

        BAAM! (mic drop)

        I’d like to add a twist to that if I may Lyz. Since there is only around 1% difference in our genome compared to many primates, it’s debateable to exhaustively separate us from the animal kingdom. For example, on this planet called Earth are females fought over by males? To which “animal” kingdom are you referring? ๐Ÿ˜‰

        At the places I love to go dancing, I’ve witnessed COUNTLESS (abusive) arguments, brawls, and utter inmaturity/genetics over a female/females in full-blown majesty! Hahaha! As one member of the heterosexual male community, it has taken me (with time) much work, successes and failures, to refine and manage my testosterone. For some/most constant practice makes perfect! Nevertheless, as a boy then teenager, I was so very very fortunate to have the BEST father-role-model teach me — no, engrain into me! — what is fully meant by safe, responsible, and totally consensual. Sadly, not all boys/teenagers are taught the same. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

        In the end, it is completely what Epictetus reveals: the men and their minds/ideologies are the problem, not the women.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This shouldn’t even be a discussion. Men are such hypocrites when they complain about breastfeeding moms. They’re always looking for boobs and starring at them and are offended buy a mother feeding her baby. They should be ashamed. And women are fucking worse. Tell mothers to cover up and then go to the beach topless, shoving them in your face. I’m all about people doing whatever they want as long as they’re not harming anyone. I’m all about freeing the nipple. Mother’s have to deal with so much, why would we add shame and humiliation to the mix? No way. I’ll be the type of mom that feeds my child any and everywhere and not bother much about covering. The only situations where I would be uncomfortable or ashamed to breastfeed was if I was with a woman who was unable to feed her child because of lack of milk. Then I would avoid doing it in front of her. I could be painful. I will be heartbroken if I can’t breastfeed. And about bras? I repeat. Do whatever as long as you’re not harming anyone!! Wear a bra, don’t wear a bra, your boobs, your choice. I need a bra, unfortunately, because I’m a D cup and they’re quite heavy and not perky at all. This is an amazing article my friend. I hope there’s more people like you in this world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly. Let’s not complain about books being plastered on everything but then complain about women on a beach. This is very American. Everyone knows what they look like, just like we know what a man’s chest looks like. We got used to it. A hot guy taking off his shirt is still hot, we just control ourselves and men can do the same. And as you say, moms are swamped already. They shouldn’t be giving two damn about anyone but caring for their child. I fail to see the lewdness in that. I think it comes down to rudeness really. Some people are uncomfortable with nudity and insist that everyone else adjusts to their feelings. To me freedom is tops. Looking away is easy. Taking away people’s rights is a slippery slope. Thanks for your passionate respond, Cheila.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. When I was breastfeeding my son my husband wanted me to cover up when people were around. He didn’t want anyone ogling his wife. I went along with it because I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable but I was making my son and myself even more uncomfortable. Then one day at a high school graduation my son was not having the cover up and I did not move or go the restroom I just had my breast out and there was a flash of second of my nipple.

    Some of my male family members told me “that is not right.” Or said stuff like” I am scarred for life now.” I used the classic breastfeeding mom line, “then don’t look.”

    Everyone lived to tell the tale.

    Liked by 1 person

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