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Libertarian Feminists Ask Facebook to #FreeTheNipple

Petition urges Facebook to stop "censoring artful or political expressions of female bodies."

mbl.is/Eggert Jóhannessonmbl.is/Eggert Jóhannesson

Non-sexual images of women's nipples shouldn't be considered a "community standards" violation by Facebook argue members of the Association of Libertarian Feminists (ALF). 

Earlier this week the ALF Facebook page posted a link to an Iceland Monitor article about a #FreeTheNipple protest there. As I write this, the article is the most read article on the Monitor site, but you won't find folks sharing it on Facebook. The article contains pictures of women sitting in Iceland's Austurvöllur square without shirts on, part of an organized event by a campaign "to desexualize the female nipple." Facebook has been removing any links to the article and temporarily suspending the accounts of anyone who posts it, citing a violation of "Community Standards regarding nudity." 

Screenshot/Facebook Community Standards Nudity PolicyScreenshot/Facebook Community Standards Nudity Policy

All nine ALF page admins (which includes me) had their accounts suspended, along with several individuals who shared the article. (On the same day, a friend of mine reported that her friends in the band Wet T-Shirt Contest had their Facebook page suspended, too, despite nary a nipple in sight; apparently the name alone was suggestive enough to trigger Facebook's content censors). ALF head Sharon Presley and member Julie Mastine have since launched a petition to "Tell Facebook to #FreeTheNipple and Revise Policies Regarding Nudity." 

"Facebook is exercising a double standard, allowing photos of topless men but censoring artful or political expressions of female bodies," states the petition (which I had no part in creating). "Facebook can be a leader in changing cultural norms surrounding women's bodies by taking context into account and revising its policies and filters so that women's bodies—and speech about their bodies—are NOT censored."

As libertarians, Presley et al. understand that Facebook is a privately owned platform and can enact whatever content restrictions it chooses, but they're hoping to help convince the company to make a change. Until recently Facebook also banned breastfeeding photos, but revised its policy at the urging of activists.

IMDBIMDB

Facebook—which does allow a lot of violent and XXX-if-(barely)-clothed imagery—seems unlikely to "free the nipple" completely, considering the subjectivity required in discriminating between pornographic and other content featuring female nudity and its general "family friendly" aims. (Facebook's frequently-in-the-news content standards were back so this week when it announced that it wouldn't allow sexually oriented content to be sold in the Oculus Rift app store.) Even so, the network's most recent purge of nipple-related content is providing a good opportunity to expose activism around #NippleEquity. (Hashtag for literary effect only.) In Iceland, the issue has sparked a mini-movement, with coordinated Free the Nipple days, social media campaigns, etc. From The Reykjavík Grapevine today: 

Last March, Twitter became dotted with Icelandic women’s nipples as part of the international #FreeTheNipple movement. The Icelandic wave began with a post by 17-year-old Adda Þóreyjardóttir Smáradóttir, who was sick of the double standards women face when it comes to body image and what is considered appropriate to reveal. The movement received a lot of support, mostly at first by other teenage girls who wanted to stand up for Adda when she was harassed for her tweet.

Though she deleted the picture, the following #FreeTheNipple tweets and comments have had lasting effects on how Adda and other women view their own bodies. "Personally, I feel more  free to do what I want, and I know that people of my generation and those around me agree with me on that," she said. "They’re  also less afraid of being judged. I think it’s helped a lot of girls with their self-esteem, because we are made to think that breasts should be a certain shape and size."

Even Björt Ólafsdóttir, MP of the Bright Future Party, decided to join the movement, and posted her own nipple photo on Twitter, along with the message: "This is to feed children. Shove it up your patriarchy. #FreeTheNipple."

A 2014 documentary by American director Lina Esco (Free the Nipple) follows women fighting anti-topless laws in the U.S. and is credited with spreading the movement here, where it has attracted support from celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Scout Willis, and Cara Delevingne. Below, Reason TV visits the 2012 "Go Topless Day" protest in Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: Free the Nipple/Facebook

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  • Hey Nikki!||

    Until recently Facebook also banned breastfeeding photos, but revised its policy at the urging of activists.

    Because showing your tits for some political purposes is okay.

  • ||

    I don't have a problem with FB having arbitrary standards for showing nudity or restricting speech. It's a private company that provides a free service in which people willingly relinquish their personal information, including personal photos, to be controlled by FB. If they want to choose which tits to show that's their business.

    Don't like it? Don't use FB.

    I think their policy is stupid and wrong, but that's their prerogative.

  • Hey Nikki!||

    And it's mine to criticize them for it.

  • ||

    Do you think FB should be tits-free regardless of the activists behind them?

  • Hey Nikki!||

    No, I think censoring sexual content is a revolting sop to "for the children" types, who should go suck a dick. Fuck all prudery.

  • ||

    I agree with you. What's hilarious to me is that people have used FB to trade naughty pics through their messaging system without realizing that anything you post on FB essentially becomes partially owned by FB.

    What is even more hilarious to me is that they have to have a department that goes through pictures that have complaints checking to see if they see nip.

    "What do you do for a living?"

    "I review FB photos to see if there are any nips showing."

    (backs away slowly...)

  • X[redacted]s||

    True fact: so many women used to flash the cameras on Space Mountain that Disney had to hire people whose sole job was removing the tit pics from the lineup before putting them on display.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure Facebook censors dicksucking too, Nicole. Those bastards.

  • Hey Nikki!||

    And yet look at how many photos there are of babies! As if they weren't evidence of sexytimes.

  • ||

    That reminds me, I have a few more people's feeds to hide because they won't stop posting pictures of their little brats.

  • commodious spittoon||

    I'm sure pro-sex work activists would enjoy similar dispensations, right?

  • Rhywun||

    a campaign "to desexualize the female nipple."

    No offense, but unless you can figure out a way to change the hardwiring in male brains, this will never happen.

  • Rhywun||

    Yup. I am pretty sure that most women, in fact, do NOT want to "free the nipple".

    "17-year-old Adda Þóreyjardóttir Smáradóttir, who was sick of the double standards women face when it comes to body image"

    I'm no expert but it seems to me that men have fetishized the female breast in most cultures and at most times throughout history. This agitprop is nothing more than "women are exactly the same as men" nonsense.

  • SugarFree||

    Þóreyjardóttir Smáradóttir?

    Does Adda have two mommies?

  • In League with the Dark Ones||

    Smári is a male name.

  • lap83||

    What about breastfeeding an infant? I doubt that most guys find that arousing

  • Florida Man||

    Stop talking about HAWT things, I'm at work.

  • Rhywun||

    No. But until recently, it wasn't done in public either.

  • lap83||

    I remember a local story a few years ago about a woman who was breastfeeding her infant at a bar (it was also a coffee shop which transitioned into a bar in the second half of the day), which really bothered the other patrons and enough complained that the bar owners told her she had to stop. So she rose a stink with the paper and tried to sue them for discrimination or something.

  • Antilles||

    If you see women's nipples all the time, they'd lose their allure and sexualization. In fact, it's shocking just how quickly we become desensitized to nudity when it stops being unique.

  • lap83||

    Most of the US is a temperate climate. For practical reasons constant nudity just wouldn't happen.

  • Antilles||

    Who said anything about nudity? If topless men aren't considered nude then topless women shouldn't be either. There is no rational reason why the two aren't treated the same. None.

  • lap83||

    1.You make it sound like men are allowed anywhere without a shirt, which isn't the case.
    2. It may not be "rational" for straight men to be visually stimulated by a woman without her shirt, but in western cultures they are.

  • Antilles||

    Men who appear shirtless in an inappropriate, public place can be asked to leave--women get arrested. Straight men in the US get aroused by the sight of a topless woman because it's such a rare occurrence. Decriminalize women's nipples in public, media and advertising and they'll become as de-sexualized as their ankles (something women were forbidden to show in Victorian times). Covering something up and forbidding it only makes it more alluring.

  • lap83||

    "Straight men in the US get aroused by the sight of a topless woman because it's such a rare occurrence."

    Do you still not see how climate enters into the origins of our society? Do you just think it's a huge coincidence that all cultures that have women who go topless happen to be near the equator? In climates with cold weather, you're never going to have a complete familiarity with women being topless. It would never be the status quo.

  • Antilles||

    I don't expect or necessarily want women (or men) in my office going topless while we're working. But I'd like to see an end of the restrictions and fines our government imposes on all forms of media regarding the sexist manner in which male and female toplessness is treated. I've been to several European countries and they show full nudity on prime-time TV and no one cares.

  • X[redacted]s||

    If my wife is any indication, any place where temperatures drop below 78 is too cold for less than a sweater.

  • lap83||

    I do think it's stupid though. What is the idea, exactly. Flash people until they're bored so the nipple is no longer perceived to be sexual? Also, what's the point? I can see protesting the FB policy, but deciding to try to take it a step further by attempting to change human nature is just a dumb waste of time.

  • Antilles||

    No, they need to stop slapping movies that show a nipple with an 'R' rating, or fining TV stations that show (accidentally or not) a nipple. And stop putting magazines that show women's dreaded nipples behind the counter. I hate to be one of those people who hold up Europe as an example of something, but they don't have our childish attitudes about sex and nudity, and their people grow up better adjusted with less of the sexual hangups that people in the US do.

  • Rhywun||

    they don't have our childish attitudes about sex and nudity

    Their politicians openly flaunt their concubines. How advanced they are.

  • X[redacted]s||

    I think you're onto something!

    /Bill Clinton

  • Antilles||

    Concubines? What country are you referring to, and what century? And what relevance does your comment have to what I said? Are you implying that if women are allowed to show their nipples then more men will start cheating on their wives?

  • R C Woodchipper||

    Non-sexual images of women's nipples shouldn't be considered a "community standards" violation by Facebook argue members of the Association of Libertarian Feminists (ALF).

    And just who is going to make a case-by-case determination that a given image of boobies is non-sexual?

    Facebook made a very rational business decision that it didn't want any porn, because porn on Facebook would utterly destroy their business plan. So they adopted a policy that is actually enforceable: no tits, period.

    Plus, given the fact that males, and even teen-age males, use Facebook, I challenge the notion that there are images of boobies that are non-sexual for every single Facebook user.

  • Hey Nikki!||

    But "no tits, period" is not the policy. Some tits are allowed, if they support a cause (breastfeeding, breast cancer) that Facebook has been pushed by activists to support.

  • Idle Hands||

    I see boobs all the time on facebook.

  • commodious spittoon||

    Especially around election time, or after a high-profile shooting.

  • Rhywun||

    Does the nipple make an appearance in either of these causes?

  • Hey Nikki!||

    Yes.

  • Antilles||

    Let's see, guy tits are OK but girl tits = porn! There's nothing pornographic about the naked body. And it's the censorship and neo-Victorian attitudes that harm kids more than actually seeing nudity. As Libertarians we should understand the allure of those things deemed forbidden or naughty.

  • Idle Hands||

    Okay, I could get behind this.

  • ||

    or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks

    So no T&A.

  • Brochettaward||

    Free the nipples is ok with me, as long as it doesn't include fat chicks.

  • Idle Hands||

    Or old tits, basically I'm for tits aged 18-34 everything else is pornography.

  • Brochettaward||

    On a related subject, I also find pants oppressive. I see no reason I should have to wear them if I have errands to run.

  • Antilles||

    Why are so many of these Leftist tech guys (Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs) such uptight prudes about anything remotely sexual? Utterly baffling why they chose to use their technology to restrict basic, human expression. Plus it's 2015. Can't we get over the childish notion that women's nipples are different (aka obscene) while men's are suitable for all ages. Why not criminalize men's nipples too? At least that would be consistent.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Facebook is probably a business decision; if they allow female nipples, the prudes and moralists in society will raise more trouble than the free nipple crowd could dream of.

    If the free nipple crowd wants to chnage things at Facebook, they literally have to change society so Facebook doesn't think it will lose money.

  • lap83||

    " they literally have to change society so Facebook doesn't think it will lose money."

    This. They haven't thought their ideals through, they're just hippies.

  • Antilles||

    Isn't Facebook customizable? Can't they add a checkbox to block 'naughty' content for the prudes? Lefties love to shove their beliefs in everyone's faces. So, how come they're so considerate of the SoCons on this issue? Honestly, I find it truly baffling.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Because it is not a SoCon issue per se. Most people with kids want some media where purely adult content is kept segrated, regardless of what their political ideology is. Because that includes the broadest demographic appeal, the media dominating hst market niche is likely to be dominanting thay type of social media.

    Why does it seem to offend you that Facebook would pursue that type of customer base?

  • Antilles||

    Because there is NO evidence that seeing nudity (or even 'normal' sexuality) is harmful to children in ANY way. And they're perpetuation that idiotic belief through their ignorant, brain-dead policy. It's one of the MANY reasons I don't have a Facebook account.

  • Mickey Rat||

    They are catering to what their target customer's want. They are not obligated to shoot their business model in the foot to cater to the ideological beliefs you favor (even presuming the corporate officers of Facebook are going against their own views on the matter).

  • Antilles||

    Of course. It's their business and they have the right to run it any way they want (SJWs would disagree). But I'm also free to boycott them and condemn them for their Victorian attitudes that continue to perpetuate unhealthy sexual attitudes in the US. Zuckerberg (and Jobs before him) was in a position to expand liberty and expression and nudge us to a less-uptight culture. But I suppose lining their pockets is more important...

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I don't know if it's comparable technically, but the photo-sharing site Flickr has "safety" levels. Users can select "Safe" if they don't want to see nekkid people, and the moderators of the various photo groups can set rules such as "only photos rated Safe".

  • Rhywun||

    Can't we get over the childish notion that women's nipples are different (aka obscene) while men's are suitable for all ages.

    Any fathers with daughters care to offer an opinion on this?

  • Antilles||

    Thanks for conceding that the aversion to women's nipples are strictly emotional without a shred of intellectual honesty.

  • Rhywun||

    You're trying to pretend that human nature can be flipped off like a switch, and I'm the intellectually dishonest one?

  • Antilles||

    If a woman chooses to go topless in public it should be her choice (not her father's, not the government's, not yours) just as it is for a man. Those who can't handle it can turn their heads or close their eyes.

  • Charles Easterly||

    I can handle the truth, and will boldy not turn away but rather I will stand up for their right to be as Nipple-Free™ as they desire to be.

  • DesigNate||

    My wife and I are teaching our daughter that she shouldn't be ashamed of her body but society, for better or worse, has...issues with women's breasts and nipples so we cover up when we're out in public.

    For what it's worth, I think it's bullshit that an adult female has to walk around covered up but I can walk just about anywhere with my shirt off. Although, it is my understanding that a good bra makes it somewhat comfortable to walk or run.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Why not criminalize men's nipples too?"

    That's right - my nipples exude just as much dangerous raw sexuality as any woman's nipples.

  • Charles Easterly||

    Now I know who you really are, Notorious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_lRKMUpWjI

  • R C Woodchipper||

    Honestly, guys, we all know the internet well enough to know that any platform that lets you post pictures is going to turn into a pretty porny place unless you restrict nude pictures. And while porny internet sites are awesome, many business plans will not survive being porny. If you are trying to be the least bit family-friendly, or want your site to be used by people who don't want to look at porn while on your site, this is what you need to do.

    You may not like it that some/many of your fellow humans don't want to look at porn on every page of the internet, but, hey, take it up with them, not the businesses who want their trade. You also may not like it that men's and women's nipples aren't treated the same; good for you. I'm in a tiny minority myself on many issues. I don't expect businesses trying to appeal to people beyond my tiny minority to throw away big chunks of market share catering to my tiny minority.

    Did Facebook make a couple of exceptions to their policy? Sure. That's their right; its their site.

  • Brochettaward||

    Facebook's success is probably largely based around the fact that, unlike Myspace, it was attractive to people of all ages and ideologies. It was simple, didn't look like a bunch of crappy geocity websites with random gifs tied together through friend lists, and it came off as professional.

    I could care less how many women go topless on Facebook. Doesn't bother me any. But the political cause here is to allow showing of breasts so it's a little different than the other political causes point to above.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The movement is also pretty much demanding that people sexually attracted to women to NOT find exposed breasts sexually interesting. In other words, you are not supposed to find those pictures arousing.

    This strikes me as rational as Sulkowisz's intoduction to her sex video.

  • R C Woodchipper||

    Somebody who isn't on a work computer should check to see if "BoobBook" or "TitBook" are taken. If not, well, there's your ticket to wealth and fame.

  • commodious spittoon||

    boobbook.com has a disclaimer: "WE ARE COMING SOONER OR LATER." I'm sure we are.

  • Mickey Rat||

    I think that sort of name would uderermine their goal of desexualizing the female nipple, however unworthy an objective that is.

  • SkippyTheMarine||

    In cultures where the breast isn't covered up, it is considered to be less sexual than we do in the west. Like in economics, scarcity has created demand; or in this case, since you can't see bare breasts, you want to see them. When you can see breasts all day long, the demand, the ogling, and the sexual nature of them dissipates.

    Don't believe me? Take a life drawing class.

    For the first few minutes, it's like, hey, breasts! Neat. Then it becomes, great, she moved, and now the shadow off her nipple doesn't quite line up the way it used to. Groan.

    The corollary to this is of course, hey, a penis! Ugh. Then it becomes, great, he shifted his hips and now it's all hanging a different way. Groan.

    Familiarity will breed indifference. Let them go topless. Let this be the first true step in shedding the neo-victorian attitudes that tend to permeate American life.

  • Antilles||

    Well said, Skippy. I experienced that very feeling in a college art class. My initial excitement gave way to indifference and even boredom in a surprisingly short time. Women's nipples are shocking because most of us don't see them very often (other than our female partners, that is), and on the rare occasion we do see one everyone goes insane.

  • SugarFree||

    Fine. Go topless. Don't complain when men look at them.

  • Antilles||

    In most places in the US it's a crime for women to go topless. Something guys never have to worry about...

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I get why women would want such laws repealed, and I agree with that. But I don't get why anybody gets upset about what Facebook does or doesn't allow--on any subject. I know FB is popular, but it's just a website. It's just not that damn important.

  • Antilles||

    As I've said previously, Facebook and Apple can run their businesses any way they like. It's just such a contradiction of their Leftist, socially liberal attitudes. They don't hesitate to push things like gay rights and amnesty for illegal aliens or gun control, but when it comes to female nudity and human sexuality they're as uptight and repressed as a Southern Baptist. It's just baffling and only serves to perpetuate and worsen the sexual hangups that disproportionately affect people in the US.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Yeah, that's the thing that really makes me laugh. They'll screech to be allowed to bare them, and then they'll screech even louder because men are looking at them.

  • Rasilio||

    Ok, I can't resist......

    ALF? So are they fans of eating kitties?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Women are baring their nipples in *Iceland*? Global warming is worse than I thought.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Oh, and about the photo in the article - those ladies should see a doctor about those glowing globes on their chests.

  • Charles Easterly||

    I thought it was an implied type of headlight joke when I first saw the choice of concealment.

  • Rebel Scum||

    5138008. That is all.

  • Atanarjuat||

    That redhead though. Somewhere there are pics of her posing for that types topless protest. She makes up for all the rest of the fugly gingers out there.

  • Charles Easterly||

    My office calculator saw what you did there.

  • Antilles||

    You spelled it wrong. It's 'i' before 'e', except when it's not, like here...

  • Antilles||

    Ugh...UNLIKE here. Damn...

  • Robert||

    Nipples are pretty. But then, I think armpit & crotch hair is too.

  • Robert||

    This page must be chockablock & nested w scripts.

  • patskelley||

    Too easy! Grab a camera and take closeup shots of every man-made or natural living object plant or animal that hold any protuberance resembling any objectionable human protuberance. Time to party

  • Sharon Presley||

    For you dumbasses who say this kind of crap is hardwired: Oh so you can have an excuse to be a sexist dumbass? Freud had a name for that: projection.

    But here's what real acience says: http://www.apa.org/research/action/difference.aspx

  • Lord at War||

    Compared with women, men could throw farther, were more physically aggressive, masturbated more, and held more positive attitudes about sex in uncommitted relationships.

    The differences that are supported by the evidence cause concern, she believes, because they are sometimes used to support prejudicial beliefs and discriminatory actions against girls and women.

    So we will try to ignore them with the hope that they will suddenly disappear after millions of years of evolution. Meanwhile, being a cunt is just a choice...

  • tz||

    Milk it for all it's worth.

    Fb and twatter should just adopt G/PG/R filters so if you wish to be exhibitionists or obscene, go ahead, but I won't see it.

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