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I know I’ve blogged related to this before, but I’m still angry, and I want to talk about it again.

It’s the double standard that surrounds topless men and topless women. A topless man is just a normal guy whose shirt was too warm for the weather, a topless woman is an attention-seeker, a slut, and now a necessarily politicised object, making a statement about feminism, freedom and body image. The female body is never neutral, and that’s pissing me off.

Even look at this! This is a screen grab from Huffington Post, where I went for a bit of blog research on ‘Free the Nipple’. While reporting on it, they show the double standards by blacking out the female nipple, and calling their story about a naked performance artist ‘NSFW’. Would they censor a statue or a painting of a naked woman?

freenipple

Do you know what is considered suitable for work? The Sun newspaper. Do you know what the Sun has on the 3rd of its pages? A bare-breasted woman. You can bring your newspaper to work, and perv on a lady’s bare breasts, but you can’t take your shirt off if you’re too hot and you’re a lady.

Women in France, that famous bastion of topless sunbathing, are no longer going topless so often because it has changed register culturally from something you do to get an all-over tan to something sexualised, or even politicised.

The message is that female nudity is something inherently sexualised. Something ‘NSFW’ because it is always caused by or causing sexual feelings. It is something that money can be made out of, in the form of page 3, or those awful ‘lads mags’ that are just as patronising to men as they are demeaning to women.

My own novel has had a ‘modesty panel’ added to it in order to get it out of the ‘adult’ section on Amazon.com :
book one copy H

I’m happy with how it looks, I’m just amazed that Amazon wasn’t able to cope with a little bit of sideboob, in a picture that is not as aggressively erotic as many other covers where the women pictured are clothed, and it did not consider ‘NSFW’ or adult the cover of volume two, which features a face-front, much more skin-on-show visibly naked man:
cover2

“You’re still angry about that?” I hear you cry, those who have read my previous post. Well, yes, actually, I am. It’s just entirely symptomatic of a system that assumes a heterosexual male viewer, and indeed one that can’t see a woman naked without going into sexual overdrive.

Also, how can we be so prudish in a society that sells naked women like cattle? We are expected to believe that the picture of a topless woman is offensive, but this kind of shit is OK? The kind of stuff that pops up whenever you browse online.

sexistadsexistad2

They are disgusting, offensive and symptomatic of how women are not allowed to be naked on their own terms. No topless artsy photos on instagram. Those are a violation! But society as a whole tacitly supports the sale of women’s naked bodies for male gratification. If you’re giving yours away for free you’re a slut, a loose woman, a disgrace. It’s never not political to be a woman and to be naked. It’s never not sexual.

I will be sad if continental Europe loses it as well. From its naked saunas to its topless beaches, it has much more of an adult attitude towards nudity. Understands that it’s not always sexual. I recently spotted these covers lying on the shelf at the eye level of young children in a german airport:

photo 2

 

They’re very sexualised, and they’re on view for all to see. In a country that desexualises nudity in mixed naked saunas, the naked body is also presented as sexual in other contexts, and the message is that neither sex nor nudity is dirty or shameful.

Now, I’m not saying I want to run through the streets naked as the day I was born – for a start, I would get all over sunburn because I am very pale, and that would be painful – I’m only saying that it’s frustrating and unfair that we live in a culture now where women can’t post artsy topless photos of themselves online for a cause other than the gratification of male desire without being considered ‘NSFW’ or ‘inappropriate’ and yet the sale of the naked female body in magazines and online for male gratification is acceptable. It seems that we live in a society that cannot accept that female nudity could be anything other than a sexual act.

Just imagine, for a moment, that the royal naked sunbathing photo was not of Kate Middleton, but of Prince William. Imagine the headline ‘Prince Sunbathes Topless’. It would be absurd wouldn’t it? Why isn’t it, when it’s the other way around?

It ought to be.

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