Bare Breasts, Feminism and Mixed Messages

We can all agree that American society has been hardwired to fetishize breasts. Women’s bodies are commoditized and sex is rampant in entertainment and media.  One progressive issue that has been gaining a great deal of momentum amongst millennials is the topfreedom movement with movements such as ‘free the nipple’. Topfreedeom has always been fore fronted in the feminist crusade. The top freedom movement is not only aimed at deshaming women’s bodies and the right to public bare breasts but it also serves to eliminate the stigma attached to public breast feeding.

 My main concern with the top freedom movement is that feminists are attempting to protest a conditioning that they themselves are fundamentally mixed up about. This debate is presented as  a woman’s right issue when it in fact is way deeper than that. The commercialization of sex and a clarification of where we stand very much needs to be included.  For example, In a 2014 interview actress and outspoken feminist Emma Watson slammed Beyonce, also an outspoken feminist in a statement by saying “Beyonce using her sexuality as empowerment is not feminism”. My initial thought was why not? Emma recently backtracked on those comments after she was called out for hypocrisy after a sexy themed Vanity Fair shoot. She then said “feminism is about choice and not a stick to which to beat other women with”. I understand where both sides are coming from. Emma Watson explained and took aim at the voyeuristic nature in which the sexuality had been displayed and that it seemed intended for the sexual pleasure of men.  Beyonce and women who perform like her believe sexuality is about freedom, liberation and expression, which is something Watson coincidentally stated, were feminist values. I believe Feminism represents both opposing arguments. Which might be an issue in the sense that everyone is trying to define it. Fundamentally feminism is just defined as equal right for women.  Wouldn’t that somehow make everything else open to interpretation? Where do we stand as a country and where do we stand as feminists? Things like this must be clear, defined, and understood before we can even begin to fight for topfreedom.

In attempting to compare ourselves to cultures and nations that normalize bare breasts, how are we doing this without noticing that the majority of those cultures and nations that do normalize bare breasts DONT commercialize sex and women's body's in the first place? And are in fact more comfortable and connected to nature than Americans. Ironically more often its these cultures that are the most rooted in nature that we collectively define as primitive. We seem to pick and choose. Can you commercialize sex, and at the same time tell people that they are wrong for feeling uncomfortable with public bare breasts outside of a leisurely or sexual context? Shouldn’t we somewhere along the way acknowledge the fundamental advantages of societies that are less plagued with commercialism? Is American society as a whole rooted enough to stop commercializing sex for its own sake? Shouldn’t we start there?  I am a liberal and a feminist but lets be real and acknowledge this as a contradiction. This surpasses just feminism. The irony being that most of the societies and civilizations that do normalize bare breasts are male dominated and heavily patriarchal. That should tell you that is has less to do with feminist crusade. In the question of empowerment we need to decide what exactly is more empowering for American society. Because the fact of the matter is that these patriarchal society’s that we are seeking to emulate demonstrated respect through cultural acceptance.